20 December 2009

How to Become a Princess

If you don’t have monarchs for parents, but you are thinking of choosing princesshood as your career path—today’s princesses have to work (and give up all privacy) for the privileges they receive—here are a few tips based on how some of this century’s royal ladies gained their tiaras. A generation ago, your family still had to live on top of a royal family for you to get inside (Fergie’s dad was a royal polo manager and Diana was literally born on a royal estate), but contemporary royal wannabes can be a little more proactive.

1. Go to high-profile international events

In 1999, Argentine-born New York investment banker Maxima Zorriegueta met the Crown Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands during the Seville Spring Fair in Spain. He introduced himself simply as “Alexander.” When he later told her he was a prince, she basically said, “Yeah, right.” The couple conducted a transatlantic affair while she kept her prince’s true identity secret from her folks. She did eventually tell them that the mysterious Alexander was a prince, but Maxima’s wedding was not a true fairytale: her father was encouraged not to attend because the Dutch Parliament questioned his possible ties to a former Argentine military dictator. Both of her parents stayed away from the wedding, but continued to be actively engaged in the lives of their daughter and her three blonde baby girls. Maxima and Alexander regularly make extended family visits to Argentina.

In 2000, Australian advertising agent Mary Donaldson made a fateful choice of night spot during the Sydney Olympics. When the Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark slipped in to the Slip Inn for a nip, lovely Mary slipped in to his life. (Please pardon the puns.) She and her friend reportedly were trying to determine whether the men hanging out in the bar had smooth or hairy chests when three young bucks—who just happened to be Frederick, his brother Prince Joachim and their cousin Prince Nikolaos of Greece—offered to let the ladies feel theirs. Although Frederick was smitten, Mary admits she didn’t fall instantly in love. A year later, she moved to Paris to be closer to him and a year after that to Denmark. And, one year after that, she finally walked down the aisle. (Her dad, a former math professor, moved to Denmark to be closer to his daughter. He helps look after Mary’s two little ones whenever he can.)

Incidentally, the current Queen of Sweden, German-born Silvia Sommerlath, met her prince while working as a translator during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. And, the current Queen of Spain, who was born a Greek princess, reportedly made her love connection with the future King during the 1960 Olympics in Rome (where she was on the Greek sailing team) even though they had met years previously. A warning to you cold-weather ladies: it seems to be the Summer Olympics that produce the most romantic results for young princes, although Prince Albert of Monaco was first seen publically with his current flame, Rhodesian-born swimmer Charlene Wittstock, during the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics, they had met when she competed at an international swimming event in Monaco.)

2. Have mutual friends

(Update) Prince Harry was introduced to Meghan Markle by a mutual friend in the summer of 2016. Within a few weeks, they were camping together in Botswana. They announced their engagement in November 2017 for a spring 2018 wedding.

American Marie-Chantal Miller met Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece at a friend’s party in New Orleans in 1993. He grew up in exile, mostly in London, while she grew up all over the world—New York City, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Switzerland—thanks to her family’s wealth. In fact, some believe she brought more money into the marriage than he did. Married in 1995, the couple now has five children and Marie-Chantal has put her experience as a mother to good use: she has an exclusive line of children’s clothing.
In 2001, Spanish television journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano met the future King of Spain, Felipe Prince of the Asturias, at a dinner party hosted by mutual friends. However, their romance didn’t actually start until they met again a year later when she was covering an oil spill in northern Spain and he came to region to commiserate with the people of the area. Letizia continued her high-powered career—having reported from the frontlines of the Iraq war and covered the Sept. 11 attacks—while the two engaged in an extremely secret courtship. Perhaps as a journalist herself, she knew how to avoid other journalists and their instrusive speculation. In fact, newspapers did not begin reporting on their relationship until just days before their engagement was announced in 2003. Coincidentally, Letizia was actually born in the Asturias region, so, in a way, she became Princess of her hometown. (If only there were a Prince of Lincoln City, I would have been set.)

Norwegian waitress Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby met the Crown Prince of her homeland through mutual friends at the Quart Festival, a rock festival in her hometown of Kristiansand, in 1996. (I guess I should have attended the festival when I was in Norway in ’92; I could have found him first!) They later shared a taxi and began falling in love. Like most Scandinavian couples, Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon cohabitated before their marriage but eventually tied the knot in 2001.

3. Select your college carefully

Not surprisingly, university applications usually spike whenever a prince announces where he will be studying. This was certainly the case when Prince William of Wales decided to attend the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. As a fellow art history student, Catherine (Kate) Middleton soon became one of the prince’s inner circle. In their second year at St. Andrews, they and some other friends moved in to a cottage together. Speculation about their relationship grew when he was photographed watching her model a scanty outfit in a university fashion show. In the last nine years, their romance has made quite a lot of money for the tabloids. The constant pressure from the media has often strained the relationship. William and Kate split in 2007 but have since reunited and rumors are running rampant that an engagement will be announced in 2010. (Update the couple married in April 2011.)

Incidentally, when one of my friends enrolled in graduate school at Georgetown University in the early ‘90s, I tried to get her to introduce me to the two princes who were studying there at the time, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and/or his cousin Felipe Prince of the Asturias, but she never bothered to meet them. I guess I should have gone there myself!

4. Enlist in military service

Tessy Antony met the younger son of her country’s Grand Duke, while serving on a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo in 2004, where she worked as a driver. This apparently helped her meet 18-year-old Prince Louis of Luxembourg when he came to visit the troops. Two years later, their first child was born and, six months after that, the couple was married. To marry his love, Louis gave up succession rights for him and his children. Also, Tessy was denied the rank of princess. Earlier this year, however, Tessy and her two little boys were finally granted royal rank. She is now officially a Princess of Luxembourg and her sons are Princes of Nassau.

5. Don’t worry if you have a past. . .

Although Charles Prince of Wales was under extraordinary pressure to find a “pure” bride—quite a task in post-Sexual Revolution Britain—when he became engaged to the teenaged Lady Diana Spencer, today’s princes are far less particular. Mette-Marit had been linked to drug users and already had a son from another relationship when she married the Crown Prince of Norway. Mette-Marit's son, the adorable Marius, is so accepted by the royal family that he is listed as a member of the royal family on its official website alongside his royal half-siblings. Meanwhile, Letizia had already been married and divorced, when she met the Prince of the Asturias.

6. Don’t worry if you’re of non-European descent. . .

Hong Kong-born British citizen Alexandra Manley met Prince Joachim of Denmark when he worked for a Danish shipping company in Hong Kong. With both European and Chinese grandparents, she became the first mixed-race European princess when they married a year later in 1995. Together, they had two sons before they divorced in 2005. Alexandra had become extremely popular in Denmark thanks to her lovely personality and expansive charitable works, so her former mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe II, gave Alexandra her own title, Her Highness The Countess of Frederiksborg. Since this is a personal title, Alexandra was able to keep it when she married Martin Jørgensen in 2007, although she was downgraded from “highness” to “excellency.” (Lady Diana Spencer lost “Her Royal Highness” upon her divorce although she was allowed the style “Princess of Wales,” as if the title were her last name. Had she remarried, she likely would have forfeited that style to take on her new husband’s name. At some future date, possibly when her son became king, she might have been given a title of her own, but this is purely speculation on my part.)

More racial diversity entered the European houses when Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein, son of the reigning Prince Hans Adam II, married Angela Brown. Born in Panama of African descent, Angela grew up in New York where she later studied at Parsons School of Design (hello, Tim Gunn!) and became an award-winning fashion designer. The couple met when he was in New York working for Chase Capital Partners in 1997. They married in 2000; she, of course, wore a dress she designed herself.

FYI My sister was also born in Panama and raised in the U.S., so if there are any princes hanging around Atlanta these days, send me a message; I’ll be glad to make the introduction! I may have missed my opportunities to marry a royal prince (instead of the prince of my heart—everyone say “aaah.”) but I’ll be delighted to help a sister out.


  1. If I hadn't already married my prince, I would take this post to heart. I can tell you spent a lot of time compiling this one. Thanks so much for the great read!

  2. Thanks Jenn. I have a huge list of potential topics, but for some reason I woke up with this new idea on my mind today. I thought, "This will be fun and easy." But I was wrong; it took about six hours to put the whole thing together! And, there are still so many people that I left out, like Sophie Rhys-Jones who met Prince Edward through her job when she had to play tennis with him because someone else didn't show up. In the end, as with all relationships, it's all about being in the right place at the right time. I know it will come as no surprise to people to learn that I met my husband at a library. However, although I am a self-confessed geek, I was there for a political meeting rather than hours of research.

  3. That's life for you! No matter how much we try to make it work, sometimes all it takes is a little luck. I like to tell people, "I met my husband when he answered my classified ad." It was for a job! I hired him before I married him. :) (And no, we weren't working together when that happened!)

  4. Thank you for your great post! I'm re-posting it on my blog.

    I am happily married too, but I still dream of being a princess. I would be willing to swap places with Princess Mary in an instant -Prince Frederick's very cute!

  5. Felipe is my favorite--I like tall men, plus I already speak Spanish! Frankly, both Frederick and Felipe seem to be really terrific people and they both seem to be clearly in love with their wives. I am amazed at how frequently Felipe is photographed holding Letizia's hand. And, of course, their children are absolutely gorgeous!

  6. i read the whole thing and then met my prince you all know prince william right i just know i will marry him soon. thank you for your advise it helped alot i will invite you to the palace one day well i got alot of work to do toodles

  7. If this post is helpful to you, Anonymous, or anyone else, I will be watching my mailbox for an invitation to the wedding. ;)

  8. I've always dreamed of being a princess. I know it's not easy but it has it's ups and downs like real life. I would love to meet my prince charming haha. But I'd rather be able to choose my own man while still being able to be a princess I mean they shouldn't have to be a prince in order for you to marry then right? but I really love this blog thanks ^_^

  9. i'm becoming a catholic because my heart wants to. i have royal ancestors. i have copped bad press from a jornalist that sleeps around and has a son with prince
    albert of monaco. i love reading about royals
    but after 10 years i dont dream. thankyou for your mums crusifixes william and harry.
    love lailani

  10. Add one more Princess under category #1 Go to high-profile international events.

    Olympian Charlene Wittstock met her new fiance, Prince Albert II of Monaco, at an international swim meet. Follow this link for more on the engagement:

  11. Hi... Im arab... but idk with some mixed decent.. bought up here in arab world..wish to meet my arab royal prince 1 day! the blog above is alll about luck.. pure luck! but thanks cheryl :D

  12. Can someone please arrange for Prince Harry to meet the perfect for him, Princess Madeleine of Sweden (maybe at the London 2012 Olympics:)!)I know I know they have already met,but somebody should insist on some old-fashioned royal family matchmaking.I say this knowing how well this has (not)worked out before,but there is always a first time.

    1. ha ha...inviting her over to balmoral for tea and insisting to take her for a walk in the garden...the good-old victorian style of matchmaking...

  13. I love reading your blog. Bookmarked it already. Amazing to learn stuff I never knew about royalty,thanks

  14. May i just say i want to be a princess and live in a castle that has alwaysss been my dream and im young im 15 years old im looking up ways i can be famous and rich well ill prefer wealthy since i was a little girl i always said i want to be a princess and live in a castle and if i make it one day to be famous or anything ill surely have u there ! Thank you thank you very much for this article

  15. Well it was always my dream to be a princess because I liked the tiaras and the beutiful dresses ect.But I know somewhere out there there is my Prince Charming and love your blog!

  16. And I love wearing dresses!

  17. Good luck to you, Ashley! We should all be princesses!! There are still a few good ones out there...

    1. I've always wanted to be a princess and marry the perfect prince one day but I'm just 14 don't know how old you have to be to marry the prince from a foreign country.

  18. No offense, these are good tips but the point is kind of stupid. It would be wrong to marry someone because you want to be a princess. You don't need a ton of makeup or a tiara or fancy clothes to feel like a princess, you can be one by helping people. You can help the world with your special talents and you'll be led by God to your true prince charming. Sorry if my comment offends you.

  19. No offense taken. This isn't really a how-to guide. The point of the article is to show that you can meet a prince anywhere: a bar, a school, a friend's party, etc. I met my new prince in a high school lunchroom. ;)

    As you say, being a princess is about more than birth or whom you marry. You can choose to be a princess in your own life every day.

  20. I am a prince thru my family I met my love 2 years ago we are happy I'm white she's black it didn't matter the race to me love comes from the heart I'm glad to find a normal lady who loves me for who I am

  21. I hate those people who want to become a Princess
    just for the title, money, and fame. The only
    reason I want to become a Princess is because I
    want someone to love me for who I am, not the way
    I look, dress, or how much money I have. I want
    to meet a man who will cherish me even if I
    didn't come from wealth, which I don't. I am
    barely middle class. And, unlike many of the
    girls who posted here, Cheryl, I would like to
    announce that I wish to go to Princeton so that
    I may have an education to help me in the long run.
    I don't need the title of Princess to do that.
    Otherwise, Cheryl, your blog was extremely well
    thought out and I commend you for that. <3

  22. Best wishes to you. I agree that a good education is invaluable. The good news is that even our princesses are being well educated these days. It is a good time to be a woman, with or without a royal husband or indeed any husband at all. As the Spice Girls used to say, "Girl Power!"

  23. When i was in high school my princeis the son of a well known ambassador. To get the attention of him i would need to have a million dollars. Othrr this guy wont give a second look. Its sad but unfortunately true.

  24. I have always wanted to be a Princess, because the way I see it, the world pays attention to you. People look up to you and that means you have some influence. For me, I want to be a Princess who can enact change. I would simply use the influence and attention it gets to make a difference on so many of the important topics of the world (women's equality, LGBTQ rights, climate change, poverty - with a focus on lack of medical care and clean water, education, etc.) I don't want to be a princess for the money, the fame, the clothes, all that stuff. I want to be a Princess so I can get people to listen to me.

  25. Thanks for your comment, Meryl. I think your view of princesshood--as a status that provides empowerment and as giving you a platform for the world to listen--is one which many of this blog's readers share. The good news is that you don't have to marry a Prince to become that kind of Princess. All you have to do is ACT. Get involved. Become the woman you want to be and people will listen! It is a lot easier to get involved than people think. Decide where you want to make a difference and just get started! Also, I highly recommend that you read Jerramy Fine's book "Some Day My Prince Will Come" for the inspirational true story of an ordinary girl's determination to become her own princess.

  26. My whole dream is to be a princess.....my grandfather is a prince and i really want to maintain that...am jst 14:(

  27. I already am a princess. The next step for me is becoming a QUEEN...