Celebs who became royalty – Olympic legend, Hollywood star and rugby ace

The funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will be held today at Westminster Abbey (September 19, 2022) with several famous faces attending.

The service will be attended by royal families from across the world, including those from Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Monaco.

Both the royal families of Sweden and Monaco, as well as Britain's royal family, have links to celebrities – as former sporting stars, models and Hollywood stars have married into the families.

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These include Suits star Meghan Markle and Rugby star Mike Tindall, who previously married members of The Queen's family.

Here, Daily Star looks at celebrities who have become royalty.

Rita Hayworth

Long before Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Rita Hayworth was the first Hollywood star to marry into royalty.

The star of films including Pal Joey and Separate Tables was previously married to Edward C.Johnson and Orson Welles, before marrying Prince Aly Khan, the son of Sultan Muhammed Shah in 1949.

It was reported by Vanity Fair that Prince Aly Khan had previously watched the 1946 film, Gilda, starring Rita, and had become "smitten" with the actress.

Together they welcomed a daughter called Princess Yasmin Aga Khan.

However, their romance was reported to be turbulent and led Rita to return to the United States in 1951, before their divorce was finalised two years later in 1953.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly was a Hollywood icon, famous for her performances in Rear Window, High Society and The Country Girl.

She also became another huge name to marry into royalty, after heading the US delegation at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955, where she was invited to participate in a photo session with Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Their meeting was to bring romance, with the Prince and Grace courting for more than one year, before announcing that they were to be married.

Their wedding consisted of two ceremonies, with the first held at the Palace Throne Room of Monaco on April 18, 1956, followed by a reception attended by more than 3,000 citizens from Monaco.

A second church ceremony was held at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral the following day on April 19, which was watched by more than 30 million people across the globe.

Following their marriage, Grace and her husband welcomed their first child Princess Caroline on January 23, 1957.

Their son Prince Albert was born one year later on March 14, 1958, followed by youngest daughter Princess Stephanie on February 1, 1965.

Reflecting on his parent's marriage, Prince Albert wrote in Paris Match: "If my mother, Grace Kelly, had not been invited to the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, I would not be signing these few lines today."

He also revealed that his parents began to get to know one another when Prince Rainer III invited Grace for a tour of the palace gardens, adding: "It was nearly 4 p.m. when my father finally appeared in the royal antechamber.

"A few shots were made, the famous handshake photograph posed."

Then, as they took a tour of the palace gardens, Prince Albert wrote: "The atmosphere changed.

"The couple relaxed… My father, at ease, let his charm work and a dialogue began."

Charlene Wittstock

Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock has a connection to Grace Kelly, as she also married into Monaco's royal family.

The former athlete married Grace's son Prince Albert II of Monaco on July 1, 2011, where she assumed the title of Her Serene Highness The Princess Of Monaco – the title that was previously given to her late mother-in-law Grace Kelly.

The couple had first met when Charlene was participating in a swimming competition in Monte Carlo, and speaking about their meeting, the Princess gushed about her husband to Tatler Magazine.

She said: "I was 22 and focused. I wasn't in the emotional place for a relationship.

"But the moment I met Albert, I felt a profound sense of destiny. I have been quoted as saying I felt weak at the knees. That is a slightly trite way of phrasing it, but it is true – I knew he was the one."

Their wedding ceremony was slightly different from Prince Albert's parents, however, as it is reported that the three-day wedding celebration included a performance by rock music icons The Eagles.

As to be expected, there were also a number of royal guests in attendance at the ceremony too, including Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

Following their marriage, the royal couple also welcomed twins in 2014 – Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques.

Sophie Winkleman

Peep Show and Sanditon actress Sophie Winkleman – and half sister of Strictly star Claudia Winkleman – went from TV royalty to actual royalty when she married Lord Frederick Windsor – the son of Prince Michael of Kent.

Prince Michael of Kent is also the Queen's cousin.

Not only does this make Sophie Winkelman a Windsor, but it also means that King Charles III is her uncle-in-law.

As close relative of the royal family, Sophie and Lord Frederick were also invited to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in 2011.

The couple tied the knot in 2009 with a private ceremony at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, after having previously met on a night out in Soho, London.

However, Sophie still uses the surname Winkleman in her acting career, rather than Windsor.

Speaking about continuing her acting career and being a part of the royal family, the actress told The Times: "I've been incredibly welcomed with open arms by all of them… They'd never tell me off at all if I wanted to play some [racy] role."

Following their marriage, the couple welcomed two children together called Maud Elizabeth Daphne Marina and Isabella Alexandra May.

Mike Tindall

It is not just Hollywood stars and TV icons who have married into the royal family.

In 2003, English Rugby star Mike Tindall met Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

In 2012, Zara Tindall revealed to 60 minutes that she had bumped into English Rugby star Mike Tindall at a bar in Sydney, Australia during this time.

Speaking to Daily Mail, Mike also explained that one of his friends gave him her number and said "She wants you to text her, to say where you're all going out after the final so she can come along."

Mike and Zara, who is also an Olympic athlete, dated for more than seven years from 2004, until they married on July 30, 2011 at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh.

Together, the royal couple have three children called Mia, Lena and Lucas Tindall.

Speaking about the royal family, Mike told The Express: "Zara’s mum is a legend and her father is lovely too.

"My mates in Wakefield are forever asking how I fit in among the Royal Family but they are really down to earth."

Meghan Markle

Suits star Meghan Markle is one of the celebrities whose royal wedding has been one of the most talked about, after she married Prince Harry in 2018.

Speaking about their relationship to Vanity Fair in the year before their marriage, Meghan said: "I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it's really simple. We're two people who are really happy and in love."

The couple have since had two children together – Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge carried out royal duties following their marriage, but made a public announcement that they were resigning from the royal family in 2020.

The couple now live in California, but have since returned to the UK for a number of royal events, including the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

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