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lemme help you We're all princesses now: The rise of the middle-class monarchy
When Kate Middleton marries Prince William, she won’t be the first ordinary girl to become a princess. Marrying down is the new royal trend – look at Europe’s other middle-class queens-in-waiting, says Matthew DennisonCrown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway
Married Crown Prince Haakon of Norway in 2001.
Children: Princess Ingrid, seven, and Prince Sverre, five. Princess Mette-Marit also has a son, Marius, 14, from an earlier relationship
Mette-Marit’s route to tiaradom encompasses divorced parents, an ex-stripper stepmother and a former local newspaper journalist father, who has since developed a taste for spilling the beans to a bigger readership. These setbacks, of course, are not the 37-year-old Crown Princess’s doing. She has contributed to her own modern princess credentials with her 14-year-old son, Marius Borg Hoiby, by an ex-partner with drugs convictions, and a party-filled past that she tearfully admitted on Norwegian television had been ‘quite a wild life’.
Mette-Marit was born in Kristiansand – the town in which she later met Crown Prince Haakon at the country’s largest rock festival. Like her mother-in-law Queen Sonja, she is solidly Norwegian, if decidedly unroyal: simultaneously an icon of the Norwegian fashion industry and a challenge to her more conservative countrymen.
You mean those not provided by her father? Being forced to cancel a state visit to Germany in 2002 due to first- and second-degree facial sunburn was a novel royal excusePrincess Máxima of the Netherlands
Married Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, in 2002.
Children: Princess Catharina-Amalia, seven, Princess Alexia, five, and Princess Ariane, three
It’s a tradition in the Dutch royal family to choose a spouse of whom parliament and the people can disapprove – Máxima Zorreguieta was no exception. It wasn’t anything the trilingual Argentinian investment banker had done herself, more a case of the sins of the father. If only Máxima’s dad Jorge had stuck at being a farmer…instead he served as Minister of Agriculture in Jorge R Videla’s military dictatorship in the late 1970s, a regime notorious for its human rights violations. Dutch heir Prince Willem-Alexander, who met 39-year-old Máxima at the Seville Spring Fair, was not daunted. Parliament stalled, the Queen showed her support and the rest has been up to Máxima.
Having described his wife as ‘a normal woman’, the Prince quickly corrected himself. Time has shown that the Dutch people share Willem-Alexander’s view of Máxima as ‘extraordinary’.
It’s OK that she has remained Roman Catholic, OK that she considers herself still Latin, OK that she supports gay rights. So who can blame her if, during the 2006 World Cup, Máxima secretly supported Argentina?Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
Married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 2004.
Children: Prince Christian, five, Princess Isabella, three, and twins aged nine weeks
Given Denmark’s notoriously strict immigration rules, Crown Prince Frederik could have made life easier for himself by not falling in love with an Australian advertising executive turned estate agent, who he met in a pub in Sydney. Danish law was accordingly tweaked to allow Mary Donaldson, the youngest of four children of Professor John Donaldson, Scottish-born former Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Tasmania, to become Crown Princess of one of the world’s oldest monarchies. Herself now a mother of four, Mary will become Europe’s first Australian queen.
Unassuming and, it is rumoured, less confident than she appears, Mary, 39, has endeared herself to the Danish public. She has also embraced royal life with grace – and learnt a new language. The couple’s two official residences have been restored for modern family living at a reported cost of more than £30 million to the Danish taxpayer.
Mary probably hoped to keep secret an operation to remove a gallstone in October 2004, five months after her marriage. Speculation that she was pregnant outed the less glamorous explanation.Letizia, Princess of Asturias
Married Prince Felipe of Asturias (heir to the Spanish throne) in 2004.
Children: Infanta Leonor, five, and Infanta Sofia, three
No previous Spanish princess has boasted a Madrid cab driver for a grandfather, but the former Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano is also descended from medieval nobility in the form of the Constables of Castile. Less orthodox for the woman whose husband Felipe will one day inherit the title ‘His Catholic Majesty’ is her divorce from teacher Alonso Guerrero Pérez in 1999, after a marriage lasting only a year. Former TV news journalist Letizia, 38, met her prince on the Galician coast while reporting on the sinking of an oil tanker.
She may not be able to match her Greek/Danish mother-in-law Queen Sofia’s boast of being simultaneously a great-great-granddaughter (paternally) and great-great-great-granddaughter (maternally) of Queen Victoria, but Letizia is set to become Spain’s first Spanish queen since Isabella II in 1870.
The death of her younger sister Érika at 31 from an overdose of sleeping pills in 2007 won widespread sympathy for Letizia – and diverted attention away from persistent rumours about suffering from anorexia (denied) and having had a nose job (admitted).Charlene Wittstock
Set to marry Albert II, Prince of Monaco, in July, when she will become Princess of Monaco
‘I know who I am and where I come from. My father works in marketing and my mother is a swimming coach,’ Wittstock recently told reporters. Like all the new breed of royal consorts, the 33-year-old South African former Olympic swimmer is making no false claims about her background. Why should she? Her predecessor as Princess of Monaco was Hollywood actress Grace Kelly. Wittstock’s own career, which includes a number of women’s swimming records in South Africa (she met Albert at a swimming competition in Monaco), turns few heads in the sunny principality once famous for its shady characters, a miniature royal world that is as much Dynasty as dynastic.
Grace Kelly proved that, in Monaco, it’s glamour not bloodlines that count. The Monégasques have waited 30 years for a new princess. This one is cool and blonde too.
A fashion faux pas when she appeared with Prince Albert at a Red Cross Ball. ‘I was used to living in a swimsuit and was totally clueless about fashion. I borrowed a green dress from a friend and painted my nails red – I looked like a Christmas tree.’
and now our Catherine