11 Royal Couples Who Didn't Marry In Their Home Country

When we say "the royals," many Immediately think of the British royal family. The Firm, as they are called, has been around for generations and is arguably the most recognizable royal family. The lavish estates, storied tiaras, Crown Jewels, pomp and circumstance — the list goes on. But the British royals are just a handful of the regality spread across Europe, the Americas, Africa, and more continents, and where there are royals come royal weddings.

Royal weddings are events of the decade, with immense planning, money, and public access factoring into the day. For instance, Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in 2011 was a spectacle to rival then-Prince Charles and Diana Spencer's nuptials, garnering millions of viewers worldwide and thousands of well-wishers lining the streets. Such an experience was relived in 2018 when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot, the wedding indicating to thousands that the makeup of the British royal family was finally modernizing — though we all know how that went. 

With all this said, you'd think that royal weddings and matchmaking would be a calculated game set in motion years before any wedding takes place. Still, as it happens, many royal couples have met in the most casual of ways — in a bar; through mutual friends — and the weddings have marked significant changes for one (or both) of the parties involved. Moving, as it turns out, is not a rarity. Here are 11 royal couples who didn't marry in their home country.

Prince Philip technically didn't marry in the country in which he was originally a royal

The late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip represented the monarchy for decades, bringing a face to the crown and traveling the world. So, it may surprise you that Philip wasn't a British prince — or of British nobility. He wasn't even born in the country.

As noted by the royal website, Philip was born in Corfu, a Greek island, in 1921 and dubbed Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. He was born to Prince Andrew of Greece, King Constantine I's younger brother, and his paternal family was part of the Danish royal family. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was Prince Louis of Battenberg's eldest child and Earl Mountbatten of Burma's sister. Louis became a British subject back in 1868 to join the Royal Navy, of which he served as an admiral and a first sea lord.

Philip, meanwhile, met Elizabeth for the first time in 1934 when they both attended Princess Marina of Greece's wedding. She was tying the knot with the then-Duke of Kent, Elizabeth's uncle, and they crossed paths at the event. They rekindled their friendship five years later and kept in contact throughout World War II. After Philip's time in the navy concluded, the two announced their engagement in 1947, and Philip gave up his international royal titles, becoming the longest-serving consort in British royal history. The couple was married on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey.

Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence couldn't get married in England

Now, this is a situation you don't hear about every day: Both Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence were born and raised in England but were not allowed to tie the knot in their home country when they decided to wed in 1992 — and it all came down to church politics.

As noted by Hello! Magazine, Anne and Timothy sparked their relationship while Anne was still married to her first husband, Mark Phillips. Finalizing her divorce just a few months before her second wedding, Anne had to travel to Scotland to marry Timothy, as the Church of England would not allow her to remarry following a divorce. As opposed to her lavish Westminster Abbey ceremony when she and Mark tied the knot, Anne and Timothy opted for a small wedding in Scotland with just 30 people in attendance, with the guest list including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Anne's children Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, and then-Prince Charles and Prince Andrew. Choosing Crathie Kirk Church as the venue — the church the royal family attends while they're in the country staying at Balmoral — Anne and Timothy adopted the mentality that less was more.

Even forgoing a traditional wedding dress, Anne wore a knee-length dress and a white jacket for the day in question, opting for her normal — and unchanged — up-do. Following the wedding, the couple was met with traditional bagpipes.

Meghan Markle did not get married in her home country

When we think about royal outsiders, Meghan Markle immediately comes to mind. Though she could've represented a new era for the British royal family and a much-needed modernization, her time as a senior royal was mired by abusive press coverage, internal attacks, and more. She and Prince Harry established their lives in the United States in 2020 and continued to share their truth. Of course, what the couple shared of their story wasn't all bad, and Meghan spoke about the day of her wedding in volume two of the Netflix series, "Harry & Meghan."

"On the day of our wedding, it's like I went into a really calm space. I don't know how I was so calm," Meghan said. "I look back at that: How was I so calm? And all I wanted was a mimosa, a croissant. And to play the song 'Going to the Chapel.' Oh, that's what I did. And it was great." 

Reflecting on being walked down the aisle by then-Prince Charles, Meghan — born in Los Angeles — said his role was "important" to her on the day. As for Harry, the pomp and circumstance were all a bit much. "There was an expectation, right? Diana's boy It was an expectation to have a public wedding. It was like, 'Mission complete with William. Now let's see if this goes the distance with Harry and then we can actually go, 'Job done,'" he confessed.

Autumn Phillips joined the royal family after marrying outside her home country

Though there are more high-profile members of the British royal family compared to others, there is still the expectation that any member of the firm will lead their life with a certain dedication to the crown. For Peter Phillips — whose mother is Princess Anne — his wedding to Canadian-born Autumn Phillips didn't exactly follow the royal script.

As noted by Hello! Magazine, Peter and Autumn tied the knot in 2008 at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor. The Canadian-raised Autumn looked the picture of perfection on the day, wearing a gorgeous gown and Anne's Festoon Tiara. "Something blue was stitched into the dress, which of course was new, like the perfect necklace and matching earrings Pete gave me," Autumn told Hello! of the day. And while it certainly looked like something out of a romance film, the realities of her wedding day were far from a fairytale.

"I was frightened of walking down the aisle," Autumn told Hello! Magazine of her wedding day. "But when I got to the top of the stairs and saw how many of our friends and family had turned out to support us, I stopped being scared and actually enjoyed it." That enjoyment did, however, come to an end, sadly, in 2020. Unlike royal couples before them, Autumn and Peter announced their intention to separate after 12 years of marriage.

Grace Kelly left her country to become part of Monaco's royal family

Of all the Hollywood actresses to grace the silver screen in the Golden Age of Hollywood, no one beats Grace Kelly. The picture of film glam and utter perfection, Kelly was the golden girl of cinema — the only way she could've topped off her illustrious life was by becoming a princess; which is exactly what she did. The American-born actress, who spent her youth in New York, met Monaco's Prince Rainier while filming "To Catch a Thief" in 1955 on the French Riviera. As noted by History, Rainier took an instant liking to Kelly, whereas she remained a bit more cautious. Despite her hesitations, the two stayed in touch and were married about a year later, becoming Princess Grace of Monaco and saying goodbye to her acting career.

As Life pointed out, Kelly had "barely set foot in Monaco" when she and Rainier got married, and her American way of life and career in front of the camera came to a grinding halt. She, of course, was gifted lavish expenses like Rolls-Royce cars and gold adornments for her impressive homes, and the wedding was even mired with robberies! About $50,000 worth of jewelry was stolen from a friend of Grace's father around the time of the wedding, with another $8,000 worth of items stolen from one of Grace's bridesmaids. To say it was the wedding of the century is a bit of an understatement.

Princess Charlene was far from home when marrying Prince Albert

Speaking of Monaco, Grace Kelly wasn't the only member of the country's royal family to get married away from her home. Decades later, in July 2011, Prince Albert of Monaco married South African-born Charlene Lynette Wittstock in a widely watched ceremony. Mired with a bit of drama – Albert fathered two children out of wedlock (via Now to Love), and the drama surrounding one of the mothers reared its head amid the wedding plans — Charlene and Albert's ceremony carried on, and she became HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco while adopting "all the historical titles vested" to her husband, the Monaco royal family website notes.

Charlene was far from home when she walked down the aisle. She was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Africa, and emigrated to South Africa when she was 12. She started training as a swimmer throughout her teenage years and took home the South African Championship swimming title at just 18 in 1996. Traveling to Australia for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, she came in fifth in the team event and later won the 200m backstroke gold medal at the Marenostrum international swimming event. She met Albert for the first time as he oversaw the contest. Though she qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2007, Charlene soon retired.

Since being a royal, Charlene has become a global ambassador of the Special Olympics and has continued to work with South African charities as part of her role.

King Edward and Wallis Simpson married in France

King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson's love story may have been one for the ages, but it drastically altered the future of the British royal family. Edward became king in 1936 after his father, King George, died. Much to his ire, Edward's relationship with the crown was fractured at best — he had fallen in love with Wallis, a two-time divorcee from America, and was not allowed to marry her given his role as king and head of the Church of England. When his father passed, Brides noted, Edward immediately called his beloved with the news.

Though Edward initially became king, life without Wallis was too much to bear. On November 16, he met with the prime minister to convey his plan: He would abdicate the throne so he could marry his beloved, and though his mother fought him on the matter, Edward stayed true to his heart. On December 10, 1936, Edward officially gave up the crown, making his younger brother — Queen Elizabeth II's father — king. Before his abdication from the throne was confirmed, Edward proposed to Wallis, presenting her with a 19.77-carat emerald ring from historic jeweler Cartier. The two were met with increasingly brutal press coverage in the wake of Edward's abdication, but tied the knot at the Château de Candé in France in 1937. Despite being married to a former king, Wallis was never granted a royal title.

Prince Frederick chose a bride from Australia

A guy walks into a bar...and you know the rest of the joke — but for Prince Frederick of Denmark, that's how he met his wife, Princess Mary. Per People, Frederick strolled into the Slip Inn bar in Sydney, Australia, in September 2000 and struck up a conversation with Australian commoner Mary Donaldson. Introducing himself as "Fred," the strangers bonded over the Olympic Games and chatted amongst the crowds of people. Mary had no idea she was talking to a prince.

"Something clicked," Mary recounted in 2005. "It wasn't the fireworks in the sky or anything like that, but there was a sense of excitement. The first time we met, we shook hands. I didn't know he was the prince of Denmark. Half an hour later, someone came up to me and said, 'Do you know who these people are?'"

Mary's friend Chris Meehan attested that she "got to know and love Frederick" for who he was, not for his role as prince. The couple married four years after meeting and birthed four children. While their meeting sounded like something out of a fairytale, it wasn't always easy for the royal couple. Finding themselves in the news in June 2022 due to their son, Prince Christian, and allegations of sexual abuse and bullying lodged against him, the couple said in a statement, "We must respond to the painful and devastating incidents by insisting on changes that ensure a safe environment for all."

Princess Marie of Greece was far from home

Compared to the British royal family, not as much is known about Greece's monarchy, and that's a shame. Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece has a fascinating backstory and was far from home when she married Crown Prince Pavlos. As noted on her personal website, Marie-Chantal — born in London — and her two sisters spent their childhood in Hong Kong before being sent to Le Rosey, a boarding school in Switzerland. After that chapter of her education was complete, Marie-Chantal went to Ecole Active Bilingue school in Paris, France, and discovered her love of art. 

Picking up her life and moving to the Big Apple, the princess attended both the New York Academy of Arts and New York University, pursuing an education in art and design. During a gander in New Orleans, Louisiana, Marie-Chantal and Pavlos crossed paths for the first time. After falling in love, the two were married at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in London, and their 1995 wedding had a royal-crossover back story.

As noted by Town & Country, Queen Elizabeth II attended Marie-Chantal and Pavlos' London wedding, and according to tradition, posed for an official portrait and photographs on the big day. Joined by some of their wedding guests, the queen took a moment to adjust Marie-Chantal's veil while taking her seat in the front row of chairs. The subtle gesture allowed for the veil to sit just right for the snap of the camera.

The Netherland's Queen Maxima married far from her home country

When Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1971, it's likely her parents didn't think she would one day become the queen of the Netherlands. As noted by Britannica, Queen Máxima was born to Jorge Horacio Zorreguieta and María del Carmen Cerruti de Zorreguieta. Her father worked as the minister of agriculture for Argentina under Jorge Videla, the Argentine military dictator. 

Máxima got her degree from the Universidad Católica Argentina in economics and started working across the world, eventually crossing paths with King Willem-Alexander'. The two fell in love and made their intentions known to be married in 2001. Being granted Dutch citizenship shortly thereafter, Máxima and Willem were given consent to marry by the states-general and tied the knot on February 2, 2002. However, given her father's role in Videla's government, he was not invited to partake in wedding celebrations.

After marrying then-Prince Willem, Máxima was determined to learn and master the Dutch language. She also took a keen interest in the Netherlands' history and constitution. After his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated the throne in 2013, Willem became king, and Máxima was given the title of queen consort. Their eldest daughter, Princess Catharina-Amalia — who was born in 2003 — is the heir apparent. The couple has two other children — Princess Alexia and Princess Ariana, born in 2005 and 2007, respectively.

Princess Madeleine of Sweden married the only American man to join a royal family

As it happens, only one American man has ever married into a royal family: Chris O'Neill, a British-American who married Princess Madeleine of Sweden in 2013. The couple — though royal by blood and marriage — are incredibly normal, and the parents of three made headlines for their move to the United States in 2018. Relocating to Florida, the Swedish Royal Court said in a press release on behalf of Chris and Madeleine, "The time and opportunity for the United States is good for the family when the children are still in pre-school age. Princess Madeleine has a great commitment to children's rights and will continue working with the World Childhood Foundation and, through the move, be able to focus more on the activities in the United States." The release, noted by People, concluded with a mention of Chris' work, noting that he'd be working in the States.

Of her life as a royal, a married person, and a mom, Madeleine told People that her day-to-day existence was far more normal than some might imagine.

"[The kids] wake me up and we fix breakfast together and the breakfast flies all over the place!" she told People in 2016. "And then we go out to the park and we swing, we try to do a lot of activities because my little Leonore, she has lots of energy, so we have to keep her stimulated and busy."