European Monarchs with African Heritage

As the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince Harry to American Meghan Markle approaches, it seems the whole world is fascinated. Meghan Markle’s biracial heritage, particularly having an African-American mother, Doria Radlan, has been the focus of many. However, is it surprising that one of Princess Diana’s sons is marrying a biracial woman? Princess Diana became the “people’s princess” because during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, she removed her gloves to hug and shake hands with those diagnosed with the disease. Her act of humanity was also an act of bravery when most were afraid to touch victims for fear of being exposed to the disease. Her work in Africa and eastern Europe to remove landmines from war torn countries and assist victims of land mines is a charity that Prince Harry has taken over. In the documentary, Diana, Our Mother, Princes William and Harry talk about the nurturing and fun loving side of their mother that the world did not see. Prince Harry said that she was “a total kid and one of the naughtiest parents.” Her motto to him was “you can be as naughty as you want, just don’t get caught.” Is there any wonder that Prince Harry, like his mother, would buck tradition and make his own rules when it came to his marriage?


Queen Charlotte and Meghan Markle. (Print Collector/Getty Images and Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Meghan Markle is neither the first American nor biracial person of African descent to marry into a European monarchy. It is alleged that Queen Charlotte who married “mad” King George was of African descent through Portuguese heritage. Further, Queen Victoria took Sarah Forbes Bonetta aka Aina, as her goddaughter. Aina was the daughter of an African chief who had been captured and killed by King Gezo of Dahomey, modern day Benin. (For fans of the movie Black Panther, the dora milaje were an homage to the Dahomey female warriors.) King Gezo presented Aina to Captain Forbes as a gift/slave to Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria did not accept her as a slave, but rather as her ward and goddaughter.


Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco. Getty Images.

Not only is Grace Kelly the first American to marry a reigning monarch, but her grandson is biracial. Alexandre Grimaldi Coste is the eldest son of Prince Albert of Monaco. He was born out of wedlock to Nicole Coste of Togo. As such, he will not inherit the throne. Alexandre is not the only illegitimate child of Prince Albert. Prince Albert’s eldest child is an American daughter, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi. She too will not inherit the throne but has enjoyed a better relationship with her father than her brother, Alexandre. Grace Kelly and Prince Albert attended the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Diana. As reigning monarch, most likely Prince Albert and his wife Princess Charlene will receive an invitation to Prince Harry’s wedding. Although Alexandre does not have a royal title, I would love to see Meghan Markle invite him and fellow American Jazmin Grimaldi to the royal wedding in May.

Alexandre Grimaldi Coste, son of Prince Albert of Monaco, grandson of Princess Grace Kelly. Image Woman’s World


Prince Maximilian and Princess Angela of Liechtenstein. Associated Press.

Angela Gisela Brown, an Afro-Latina born in Panama and raised in New York City, met Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein while he was working as an investment analyst in New York. Like Prince Harry, Prince Maximilian is a second born son. Prince Maximilian’s father is His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adams II of Liechtenstein. According to Forbes, Prince Hans-Adams II and his family are the wealthiest European monarchy. In 2000, Prince Maximilian married Angela Brown, now Princess Angela. They have a son, Prince Alfons, Alfonso de Liechtenstein. Although Prince Hans-Adams II attended the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Diana, he did not attend Prince William’s nuptials to Duchess Kate. It is unlikely Princess Angela and Prince Max will attend because the invitation is typically to the reigning monarch (Prince Hans-Adams II) and/or the hereditary heir, Prince Maximilian’s brother, Prince Alois. However, it would be wonderful to see Princess Angela and Prince Maximilian present at Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle.

Prince Maximilian, Princess Angela, and their son, Prince Alfons of Liechtenstein. Image TVN Noticias

From Commoner to Monarch

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Associated Press

Life in a royal family is not a Disney movie. Like Duchess Kate, Meghan Markle will not hold the title of princess. However, she will be busy fulfilling her royal duties and functions. For Meghan Markle, there will be more of a learning curve simply because she is American. She must decide whether to denounce her American citizenship or become a dual citizen of America and Great Britain. Although the U.S. and U.K. are both capitalist countries, the American system of government is different from the British constitutional monarchy where the Queen is head of state, but Parliament can make and pass legislation. Ms. Markle will need to learn British history, including that of the aristocracy and monarch (past and present), something not taught in your average US high school unless covered in AP European History. Additionally, Ms. Markle must learn something that seems lacking in current American society, etiquette, like Emily Post manners. In particular, Ms. Markle must learn royal etiquette.

I never follow royal weddings. However, for the wedding of Prince Harry to American Meghan Markle, I will be up at the wee hours of the morning to catch this momentous occasion. Barack and Michelle Obama are supposed to attend. I am so psyched to see these two couples together. If they dance the traditional African-American electric slide or the Cha-Cha slide at the wedding reception, I will be geeked.

“Going to the chapel and we’re going to get married, going to the chapel of love.”

UPDATE: To avoid a diplomatic falling out, the Royal Family will not extend wedding invites to political leaders, so no Obama. To watch the royal wedding, PBS in conjunction with BBC will start live airing at 4am EST May 19th with the actual ceremony at 7am EST.

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.