Meghan Markle joins group of American women who have become royals

The Asian Age / AP

Life, More Features

From Grace Kelly to Rita Hayworth, here are American women who married into royalty.

Meghan Markle will not only become a member of the British royal family, but will also make history by becoming one of just a handful of American women to become a senior royal around the globe. (Photo: AP)

With the may 19 wedding, Meghan Markle will not only become a member of the British royal family, but will also make history by becoming one of just a handful of American women to become a senior royal around the globe.

Meghan, however, is not the first Amercian to join UK’s royal family. Her predecessor is the somewhat infamous Wallis Simpson, who became the Duchess of Windsor when she married the recently-abdicated Kind Edward VIII.

Others include Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' younger sister Caroline Lee Bouvier, who tied the knot with Polish Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill; and Rita Hayworth, who in 1949 married Italian-born Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan.

Notably, she is also walking in the footsteps of Grace Kelly, who, just like the Suits star, was a screen star before she became royalty.

Kelly stopped her acting career to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, a move echoed six decades later by Meghan, who left Suits shortly after her engagement to Prince Harry was announced.

Here are the American beauties who became royals:

Wallis Simpson

Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson and King Edward VIII (Photo: AP)

Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson was a twice-divorced socialite from Baltimore whose love affair with King Edward VIII triggered a constitutional crisis for the British monarchy in the 1930s.

The two met when Edward was still the Prince of Wales and he fell hard for her, becoming the first British monarch to voluntarily give up the throne, on December 10, 1936, before her second divorce was finalized and less than a year into his reign.

Her marital status and his role as head of the Church of England were insurmountable at the time.

The two became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor after they married nearly three years after they met, on June 3, 1937, settling into exile in France and elsewhere.

The two remained married until his death in 1972 at age 77. Simpson died in 1986, when she was 89.

Caroline Lee Bouvier

Caroline Lee Bouvier (Photo: AP)

The younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Caroline Lee Bouvier lived largely in Jackie's shadow. The year before John F. Kennedy announced his run for the U.S. presidency, Lee married for the second time, to Polish Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill, on March 19, 1959. It was his third marriage.

The pair had two children, both of whom were teenagers when their parents divorced in 1974 after 15 years of marriage.

Interestingly, it was Lee who introduced Jackie to Aristotle Onassis, in 1963 and rumors have flown over the years on how Jackie's marriage to Ari after the assassination of Kennedy infuriated Lee, who married and divorced a third time after the prince.

Lee, 85, has tried her hand at a variety of things: acting, interior design, public relations.

Princess Grace of Monaco

Grace Kelly (Photo: AP)

One of the biggest stars of her time when she was chosen by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. She retired from acting at 26 to become a princess, who left her life behind and decamped to Monaco.

Kelly was reportedly accompanied by relatives, bridesmaids, a poodle and more than 80 pieces of luggage when she set off for Monaco aboard the SS Constitution. Thousands bid her farewell, with thousands more greeting her on the streets of Monaco eight days later.

And while Hitchcock and other directors courted Kelly to act again after her marriage, the prince reportedly objected.

On September 13, 1982, Kelly suffered a stroke and lost control of her car on a steep, winding road as she and their youngest child, Stephanie, drove back to Monaco from their country estate. They careened down a 120-foot mountainside. Stephanie was injured. Kelly died later in a hospital. She was 52.

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth. (Photo: AP)

Rita Hayworth was a screen queen in the 1940s and a pinup idol for the troops during World War II. She was already married twice, once to Orson Welles, when she left Hollywood to marry Italian-born Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan.

The two wed near Cannes, France, on May 27, 1949. However, things began to unravel in 1951, when Khan was allegedly seen dancing with actress Joan Fontaine at the nightclub where he and Hayworth met.

Hayworth filed for a Nevada divorce that September, citing 'extreme cruelty, entirely mental in nature', and a custody battle for their daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan, ensued

It is said that Hayworth wanted to raise the child Christian and the prince offered her $1 million if she would rear Yasmin as a Muslim and allow him extended visits in Europe.

Hayworth rejected the offer, explaining that she respected all faiths but wished for her daughter to be 'raised as a normal, healthy American girl in the Christian faith'. Hayworth was finally granted a divorce in January 1953.

She died in 1987 at 68 of complications from Alzheimer's.