Every Time A Normal Wooed & Married A Royal: Movie Edition

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's relationship has been deemed a "fairytale romance by just about every publication. Granted, their relationship does bear a resemblance to many of the Disney fairy tale adaptations we grew up with. In those animated films, a non-royal girl — Cinderella, Belle, Snow White happens to come across a prince, who falls in love with her beauty (and occasionally her personality).
The royal couple du jour met at London's SoHo house, not in an abandoned tower in a forest or while dancing at a grand ball. That said, Markle and Harry's story adheres to our conventional notion of pure romance. It's as if by snagging a royal, a person achieves some level of economic and social transcendence. We're told someday "our princes will come," but Markle's actually did. Not that Markle needed a prince to be complete, mind you; everyone just seems to be really stuck in this ingrained cultural narrative.
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That's because royal romances are ubiquitous in all types of movies, animated and beyond. What does our obsession with commoners marrying royals say about us? Perhaps that marriage is a gateway to another way of life. Here are the movies that pair royals with civilians, and occasionally stick around to see whether life really is a fairytale.
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Roman Holiday (1953)

The Royal Pairing: Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), a European crown princess, and Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), an American reporter in Rome

It's one of the most iconic images in movie history. While on a tour of Rome, Princess Ann breaks free from her confining schedule and rigid consort and runs away for an adventure. She falls asleep on a bench and is woken up by Joe Bradley, a reporter looking for a scoop. Little does he know a scoop landed in his lap. For Ann, Joe represents the opportunity for escape from responsibility. They have a whirlwind adventure through Rome, but Ann knows it must end. Roman Holiday is a movie that captures the real thrill of a temporary love affair: Ann and Joe are hyper-aware of each moment because they know it must end. Princess Ann and her thirst for romance were reportedly based on Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's rebellious younger sister.
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The Princess Bride (1987)

The Royal Pairing: The utterly heinous Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon) sees Buttercup (Robin Wright), a peasant girl, while on a tour of the land, and decides he wants her.

In so many of these movies, becoming a prince's object of romanic affection is a good thing. The Princess Bride reflects another reality. Prince Humperdink uses his unparalleled, monarchical power to sway the course of Buttercup's life. It's the inciting incident of The Princess Bride. Buttercup's dreamy and exiled boyfriend, Westley (Cary Elwes), goes on a death-defying quest to win her back. In the case of The Princess Bride, being a free peasant is much better than being a captured princess.
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Coming to America (1988)

The Royal Pairing: Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), the crown prince of Zenobia, decides to go to America to find a wife. When he gets a job at a fast food chain, he finds his ideal match in Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley).

Akeem's parents decide it's time for him to get married, and get serious. Seeking to choose his own wife — and seeking an escape from the confines of royal life — he and his friend, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), move to Queens and get jobs at a fast food restaurant. Akeem is far more charmed by America than Semmi. But he's most charmed by Lisa, his boss's daughter who has no idea he's a prince.
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Mrs. Brown (1997)

The Royal Pairing: Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and a Scottish servant named John Brown (Billy Connolly)

Years after the death of her beloved husband, Albert, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) is still in full mourning. She's abandoned her royal duties. The only person able to bring her back to herself is a Scottish servant named John Brown (Billy Connolly). Though their unique friendship may bring Victoria back to public life, the people of England are scandalized. Will a Queen be able to get her way?
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Beautician and the Beast (1997)

The Royal Pairing: Joy Miller (Fran Drescher), a New York City beautician, and Boris Pocheko (Timothy Dalton), the leader of an Eastern European country called Slovetzkia

So, he's a dictator, not a prince. Joy Miller can overlook it. Joy is mistaken for a school teacher, not a beauty teacher, and is recruited to the palace of Slovetzkia to teach the dictator Boris Pochenko's four children. While there, she clashes (in a fiery, sexy way) with the dictator. She pushes him to reform some of his rigid policies. This is a Cinderella story infused with Cold War anxieties.
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Ever After (1998)

The Royal Pairing: Danielle du Barbarac (Drew Barrymore), an orphan essentially enslaved by her evil stepmother (Anjelica Huston), and Prince Henry (Dougray Scott)

The tagline of Ever After could simply be: "Take Cinderella, and make it better." The movie's plot mimics everything we're familiar with. Danielle, our Cinderella stand-in, is witty, inquisitive, and takes no prisoners. After a chance meeting, she knocks Prince Henry off his pedestal and makes him think critically about himself and his privilege. Watching Ever After, you get the feeling that the leads in this Cinderella story actually love each other for who they are, not because they like how they danced one time.
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Anna and the King (1999)

The Royal Pairing: Anna Leonowens (Jodie Foster), a British widow teaching in Siam, and King Mongkut (Chow Yun-Fat) of Siam

In 1862, Anna arrives to Siam with her son, Louis (Tom Felton), so she can teach the king's 58 children, which he had with wives and concubines. Despite their different statuses and upbringings, Anna and the King grow to respect each other – and eventually love each other. Get ready for some glances filled with longing, accompanied by swelling strings. Unlike many of the other fairytales on this list, Anna and the King is based on a true story.
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The Princess Diaries (2001)

The Royal Pairing: Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), princess of Genovia, and Michael (Robert Schwartzman), Mia's friend's older brother

Michael had a crush on Mia even before he knew she was a princess. And before she knew she was a princess, too. At the start of the movie, Mia discovers her late father was actually the Crown Prince of Genovia, and eventually she'll have to abandon her San Francisco life for royal duties. Suddenly, everyone's fascinated by Mia, even the people who had been mean to her before. After succumbing to popularity for a hot second, Mia realizes she loves Michael because he loved her before she was a princess.
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The Prince & Me (2004)

The Royal Pairing: Eddie (Luke Mably), the crown prince of Denmark, and Paige (Julia Stiles), a pre-med student studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Prince and Me follows the pattern of a typical royal-commoner romance movie. A prince seeking liberation from his responsibilities leaves his homeland and goes undercover. On his journey, he falls in love with a civilian he never would've met otherwise. In the case of this classic teen movie, Eddie (aka Prince Edvard) is compelled to study at the University of Wisconsin after seeing a spring break video of wild girls who studied there. While at the college, he meets Paige, a determined pre-med student. The Prince & Me explores the inevitable sacrifices that accompany royalty. After Paige finds out her boyfriend's real identity, she has a choice: Get married and give up her ambitions, or break up and become a doctor.
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A Royal Christmas (2014)

The Royal Pairing: A seamstress named Emily (Lacey Chabert) and Leo (Stephen Hagan), the prince of a "real" country called Cordinia, an amalgamation of Corsica and Sardinia

As A Christmas Prince would in 2017, this Hallmark movie combines two of America's favorite past times: Christmas and ogling royalty. In A Royal Christmas, Emily has been dating her European boyfriend for a year when he casually reveals he's the prince of a small country. But will his mother, Queen Isadora (Jane Seymour), ever accept a seamstress for a daughter-in-law? She certainly won't submit easily.
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A Christmas Prince (2017)

The Royal Pairing: Richard (Ben Lamb), the prince and soon-to-be king of Aldovia, and Amber Moore (Rose McIver), a journalist who seeks an inside scoop on the coronation.

Netflix's A Christmas Prince isn't necessarily a good movie — but that's not why you're watching it. You're watching it because A Christmas Prince delivers the Platonic ideal of the royal-commoner romance storyline. The moment Amber, an editorial assistant with journalistic ambitions, sneaks into the palace of Aldovia and is mistaken for the princess's babysitter, we know where this will lead: right into the arms of the blond crown prince.
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Black Panther (2018)

The Royal Pairing: In Black Panther, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) breaks up with T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the leader of Wakanda, because she doesn't want to give up her dreams for the responsibilities that come with being married to a royal.

It's obvious that T'Challa and Nakia are meant to be. Both are extremely service-oriented and want to make the world a better place. The difference? T'Challa's responsibility is to Wakanda, and Nakia's is to her spy missions outside of Wakanda, where she helps other African people. Throughout Black Panther, Nakia and T'Challa negotiate their relationship and their vision for Wakanda, often in the same conversations. Now that's a power duo.
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Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance (2018)

The Royal Pairing: Meghan Markle (Parisa Fitz-Henley), Suits actress, and Prince Harry (Murray Fraser), the brother of the future king of England.

And now, for a meta moment. A week before Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are to be wed on television, a fictional rendering of their romance was aired on Lifetime. Given the history of the British monarchy, this is a remarkable romance. Markle is a biracial American divorcée; only two generations ago, an English king had to abdicate the throne so he could marry an American divorcée.
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