OLD World aristocracy meets New World charm.”
Just like Tasmanian real estate agent Mary Donaldson, Ariana Austin bagged herself a prince after meeting at a bar.
The 33-year-old American wed Joel Makonnen, the great-grandson of Ethiopia’s last emperor Haile Selassie, in a lavish ceremony on September 9 in the US.
The New York Times reports Mr Makonnen, known as Prince Yoel, hit on Ms Austin with a cheesy pick-up line at a Washington DC nightclub in December 2005.
“I said, ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,’ or whatever the gin was,” the 35-year-old lawyer recalled. “Not even five minutes later I said, ‘You’re going to be my girlfriend’.”
But he didn’t reveal his royal heritage until they began dating.
As the couple noted on their wedding website, the union happened when “Old World aristocracy met New World charm.”
The pair tied the knot at Maryland’s incense-filled Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, in a ceremony officiated by at least 13 priests and clergymen.
They celebrated the nuptials with more than 300 guests at Virginia’s Foxchase Manor in Manassas, feasting on platters of Ethiopian food.
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“I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny,” Ms Austin said. “But I felt like I had things that I had to do.”
Mr Makonnen was born in Rome where his parents, Prince David Makonnen and Princess Adey Imru Makonnen, lived in exile from Ethiopia. He grew up in Switzerland.
“He talked about weighty things as a young man,” Ms Austin said. “He mentioned the revolution. Things that sound heavy for someone who was 23.”
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His family is part of the Solomonic dynasty, whose reign ended in 1974. That year, a civil war in Ethiopia broke out after Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed following months of political unrest.
His administration was accused of being financially irresponsible and out of touch.
Tasmanian real estate agent Mary Donaldson also married into royalty after meeting Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark at a Sydney bar during the 2000 Olympic Games.
“The first time we met, we shook hands,” she recalled of their fated meeting.
“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?’”
The couple wed in Copenhagen in 2004 and have four children: Christian, Isabella, and twins Vincent and Josephine.