Queen Victoria wore mourning for the rest of her life following the death of her beloved Albert
Theirs was a semi-arranged marriage that produced passionate love, with Queen Victoria’s devotion to her beloved Prince Albert producing nine children. When he died aged just 42 in 1861, 22 years into their marriage, she was justifiably devastated. Four decades later she was still wearing the all black mourning outfit she became known for – testimony to her undying love for her paramour.
Tsar Nicholas II’s unwavering devotion to his Tsarina in the face of revolution
It would be an inaccurate exaggeration to suggest that the unpopularity of Tsar Nicholas II’s wife, Tsarina Alexandra, was one of the causes of the Russian Revolution. Yet it is undeniable that her great unpopularity with the public – down in large part to her German heritage and perceived aloofness – was an exacerbating factor in their downfall. Doomed from the start, the head-over-heels couple wed against the wishes of their families, with Alexandra’s beloved grandmother Queen Victoria nervous about the state of the Russian monarchy. When advisors suggested that Alexandra try to be more likeable to the Russian public, she retreated even further, with her husband blind to the growing storm.
King Edward VIII gave up his throne for divorcée Wallis Simpson
There is perhaps no act more romantic for a royal than giving up their throne for the one they love – with a constitutional crisis being mere collateral damage. King Edward VIII did just that when after years of being the playboy Prince of Wales he gave it all up to marry his one true love, Wallis Simpson, an American who was in the process of divorcing her second husband. With the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin theorising that the public would be opposed to having Simpson as Queen Consort, Edward decided to give up his crown rather than his woman, abdicating in favour of his younger brother, the Duke of York.
Prince Philip inscribed a secret message in the Queen’s wedding ring
Not someone one would naturally think of as a romantic (practical, sensible and stable spring to mind first), but the late Prince Philip often gave the Queen signs of his devotion to her over the years, starting on their wedding day. As well as giving up smoking – a habit that the Queen disapproved of – he also reportedly inscribed a private message to his wife in her wedding ring, one that only he, the Queen and the engraver knew.
The Swedish Princess who lived with her Prince for 30 years before they could marry
An example of a royal who didn’t give up the throne but still managed to keep his relationship, Prince Bertil of Sweden and his wife Princess Lilian (née Lilian May Davies), were together for three decades before finally tying the knot in 1976. The couple – who met at a cocktail party for her 28th birthday when she was married to someone else – lived discreetly together for 30 years because they would otherwise need to seek Bertil’s father the King’s permission to marry. As the next in line to the throne, Bertil’s nephew, was just a year old when the couple got together, there was a very real possibility that Bertil might be called upon to act as Regent until he came of age, meaning his choice of wife would be of public interest. When his nephew Prince Carl did ascend to the throne in 1973, Bertil was granted permission to marry his long-time love.
Grace Kelly gave up her acting career to become Princess Grace of Monaco
While a few have given up their thrones for love, many more have given up their former lives as ‘normal’ people to become royalty. Perhaps no one gave up more than Grace Kelly, the Queen of Hollywood in the 1950s, a Hitchcock Blonde and Oscar-winner, who had her entire career still ahead of her when she left it all behind to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
Diana, Princess of Wales added a romantic nod to Prince Charles in her wedding outfit
Teenage bride Lady Diana Spencer was known for her adulation of her Prince Charming, with her fairytale wedding in 1981 having multiple sweet details. One such titbit was her decision to have ‘D’ and ‘C’ inscribed on the soles of her wedding shoes, as a nod to the couple’s initials.
Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his mother’s ring
The late Diana, Princess of Wales left much of her jewellery to her two sons after her tragic death in 1997. One such piece was her sapphire engagement ring – one she famously picked out for herself – which was left in her will to her younger son, Prince Harry (according to her former butler, Paul Burrell). When it came time for his elder brother, Prince William, to propose to his girlfriend of almost a decade Kate Middleton, Harry reportedly offered the ring to him, and the rest is history.
Princess Mako of Japan gave up her royal title to marry a commoner
Japan’s constitutional rules mean that once a Princess marries a commoner, she must leave the Imperial Royal Family. Princess Mako – the daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito – revealed her plans to marry her university sweetheart, Kei Komuro, in 2017, a move that would force her to relinquish her royal ties (the couple are still not yet wed, after several delays). When they do finally tie the knot, she will not be granted any money from the crown, and will need to work for a living. The last Princess to do so was Princess Ayako in 2018. When Princess Mako’s aunt, Sayako, wed a commoner in 2005, she had to ‘learn’ how to live like a normal person, taking driving lessons and practicing shopping at the supermarket.
The Duchess of Sussex’s wedding veil commemorated her first date with the Duke
Known for her romantic streak – after being photographed wearing jewelry emblazoned with a ‘H’ for Harry, and occasionally letting slip pet names for her royal husband – it is unsurprising that the Duchess of Sussex chose to commemorate the couple’s serendipitous first date by having a piece of the dress she wore for that momentous meeting incorporated into her wedding veil.
Originally published in Tatler.com