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Royal romances that never fail to enthral, starting with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

royal romances
14 February 2017
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prince harry meghan markle loved up couple© Photo: Getty Images

To mark Valentine's Day, we're taking a look back at the romantic scenarios that never fail to enthral, starting with Prince Harry. The British bachelor has been dating American TV favourite Meghan Markle for a few months, with excited speculation over whether he will make her his bride. Of course, we all fall for a love story. But a special fascination surrounds romances between royals and starlets.

History tells how Harry's forebears, King Charles II and King Edward VII, became enamoured of pretty theatre stars Nell Gwyn and Lillie Langtry. Of course, in neither case could there have been any question of marriage. Today though, actresses often seem especially suited to the real-life role of Princess. Since they're already in the public eye and have an innate sense of occasion, they're unfazed by its demands and play it to perfection.

The standard was set by Grace Kelly. In 1956, she sailed across the Atlantic to marry Monaco's Prince Rainier, taking with her 80 pieces of luggage, including an £6,000 wedding dress given to her by her studio, MGM. It was rightly proud that its star was to shine even brighter in the royal firmament.

meghan markle2© Photo: Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Meghan already knows what it's like to be a Princess – albeit of the Park Avenue variety. New Yorker Rachel Zane, the character she plays in legal drama Suits, is the dream girl. Despite hailing from a family of wealthy lawyers, she is trying to forge her own path, aided by a series of slinky Tom Ford pencil skirts and a Middleton-worthy mane. As a beautiful, big-hearted, whip-smart paralegal, Rachel has co-workers – and viewers – at her feet.

Meghan's co-star Patrick J. Adams wants to meet Prince Harry

In real life Harry is just as smitten with the actress, whom sources describe to HELLO! as a "lovely, smart, talented hard worker with a magnetic presence". The Queen's grandson has made a number of visits to see his sweetheart in Toronto, where Suits is filmed, as well as inviting her to Kensington Palace.

So what makes Meghan so Princess-perfect? As an established actress the 35-year-old is used to attention from fans. "As an actor, you're on all the time – even when you're off camera," she once remarked. "Even if I'm having a bad day I never forget that this might be a fan's only opportunity to meet me and for them it's really exciting, so I have to be present for them."

Harry and Meghan: a timeline of their romance

In interviews she's given about the show, Meghan comes across as likeable and approachable, chatting about her rescue dogs Guy and Bogart, about her love of barbecuing with her friends and rosé wine, without ever straying into indiscretion. Instead the savvy media operator uses the spotlight to highlight good causes. Meghan is global ambassador for aid organisation World Vision and advocate for UN Women. "This type of work is what feeds my soul, and fuels my purpose," she says. She sounds like perfect Princess material.

grace kelly prince rainier wedding© Photo: Rex

Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly

One of the 20th century's most emblematic love stories began when America's golden girl, Grace, agreed to do a photoshoot at the Palace in Monaco. Its owner, Prince Rainier, was there to welcome her. She loved animals and was charmed when he showed her his pet tigers. And as they walked in the garden, they realised that despite their confidence now, they'd both been shy and lonely children. She liked his old-world charm and he liked her fresh, American spontaneity. She said she was only now beginning to learn how to live as a public figure – and he said he sympathised.

The pair wrote countless letters over the following months and, when he came to visit her for Christmas, he asked her to become his Princess. She said yes. Over the following years, Princess Grace was to bring limelight and elegance to her adopted country and, having given up her acting career, she devoted herself with the same star presence to public duty.

GALLERY: Best photos from Rainier and Grace's wedding

Yet while the world would never forget how thousands greeted her arrival by ship in Monte Carlo, and the pomp and fanfare of her wedding, she herself saw things a little differently. "When I married Prince Rainier I married the man and not what he represented or what he was. I fell in love with him without giving a thought to anything else," she said.

Grace Kelly's childhood home will reopen to the public

sofia hellqvist wedding prince carl philip sweden© Photo: Getty Images

Prince Carl Philip of Sweden and Sofia Hellqvist

As a star of Paradise Hotel – a Big Brother-style reality show with a tropical twist – Sofia had bared both body and soul on the small screen before she met handsome Prince Carl Philip through friends in 2009. "It was love at first sight," recalled Sofia, who'd also studied business and accounting, taught yoga, and set up her own children's NGO.

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The pair didn't wed until June 2015, by which time they knew Carl Philip's choice had won public acceptance. As for his family: "My parents and my sisters were curious about her, open, and welcomed her with a big hug," he said.

Now Sofia is mother to another Prince, Alexander. His adoring mother says he's "very sweet…a little mixture of both of us…"

kendra spears aga khan wedding© Photo: Getty Images

Prince Rahim Aga Khan and Kendra Spears

On her Twitter account she says she's "a model, among other things" and one of those things is a master of understatement. Because the American beauty Kendra Spears, who has graced catwalks for Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel, is also a Princess. Princess Salwa, to be precise, ever since the Seattle-born model wed Prince Rahim Aga Khan, the eldest son of His Highness Aga Khan IV, at a private ceremony in Switzerland three years ago.

The pair were reportedly introduced by pal Naomi Campbell at a party, and for Prince Rahim their budding romance was a chance to uphold a family tradition: his British mother Princess Salimah, née Sally Croker Poole, is a former model. And his grandfather Prince Aly Khan was married to ultimate glamour girl Rita Hayworth.

Guests including Naomi, Karlie Kloss, Leonardo DiCaprio and Edward Norton toasted the Prince and his bride at a glitzy post-wedding bash at Manhattan's Natural history Museum.

Prince Rahim and Kendra welcome second child

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