Real Princesses Whose Actual Life Stories Are Better Than Disney’s

Modern-day princesses come from all walks of life—some were even born in America.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway (with her husband, Prince Haakon)
Mette-Marit was a waitress and a single mother to a four-year-old when she married Prince Haakon, according to the Guardian. Plus, the father of her child is reportedly a convicted drug dealer. Her journalist father, Sven O. Høiby, came under fire when she married the prince because of his controversial news coverage. The Disney part: Prince Haakon loved her so much, he moved in with her before marriage even though his parents disapproved. Awww. Nowadays, she is known as "a model princess," the Guardian says (Photo: Nigel Waldron/Getty Images).
Queen Letizia of Spain
Queen Letizia is Spain's first commoner queen, having risen from the rank of princess in June 2014. She got her start as a news anchor, and married and divorced a high school teachers prior to meeting her husband. Some of her subjects are reportedly not thrilled with her outgoing personality and her alleged plastic surgeries. But her rise from an anonymous commoner to a TV presenter to a princess to a queen makes her story inspirational (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Princess Charlene of Monaco
This frosty royal was born Charlene Wittstock in South Africa. She reached renown as an Olympic swimmer before meeting and settling down with Prince Albert. Her story might be the most dramatic; she allegedly tried to flee the country of Monaco before her wedding due to cold feet. Things seem to be going better now, as she gave birth to twins a few months ago (Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece and Denmark
Marie-Chantal is part of a trio of American sisters who married incredibly well. Her beginnings are far from humble (her father is a billionaire who co-founded duty-free shopping), but the fact that she is American makes her story an unlikely one. She is active on Instagram and has a daughter, Maria Olympia, who is a college student at NYU in addition to being a princess herself (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images).
Alexandra von Furstenberg
Princess Marie-Chantal's sister also became an American princess, when she married Prince Alexander von Furstenberg, who is a German prince and the son of Prince Egon and Diane von Furstenberg. Alexandra and Alexander later divorced, so she lost her title—but she remained on good terms with her successful mother-in-law and still plays a large role in the DVF company, making her the savviest princess yet (Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Diane Von Furstenberg)
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
The duchess formerly known as Kate Middleton is one of the most admired women in the English-speaking world—and she was born to two upper-middle-class parents who owned a party-supply company and had no connection to nobility. This did not stop Ms. Middleton from meeting Prince William and marrying into the royal family, though (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images).

There are two ways to become a princess: being born into royalty or marrying a prince.

For a long time, it was unheard of for princes to marry commoners, lest their royal bloodline be diluted. Nowadays, though, such snobbery is finally out of style and royals are largely free to choose spouses from every social stratum.

Thanks to this change in royal attitudes, the world is seeing a new generation of princesses who come from humble beginnings. Many of them have a rags-to-riches life story to rival that of Cinderella or Belle, and a few even have Instagram accounts. Click through this slideshow to learn who was born to a single mother, who was in the Olympics and which European princesses are actually American.

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