The most iconic royal romances, from Prince William and Kate Middleton to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Want to hear about a real-life fairytale? These are the most iconic royal romances...

Most iconic royal romances
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Who wouldn't like a happily ever after? The most iconic royal romances are proof that love conquers all - whether you grew up in a palace or not. Just like the rest of us, kings and queens along with princes and princesses, simply want to find their perfect match. Yet, with the added pomp and pageantry, their courtships and marriages can seem like something of a real-life fairytale.

Some of the greatest royal love stories include the late Queen Elizabeth's unshakeable decades-long bond with Prince Philip, and Hollywood star Grace Kelly's glittering union with Ranier of Monaco. There has also been Prince William's sweet romance with Kate Middleton which first blossomed at university, and King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark's unlikely meeting on a Sydney night out. 

However, matters of the heart don't always run smoothly - as King Edward VII and Wallis Simpson and King Charles and Queen Camilla discovered before ultimately finding happiness. Because royalty cannot protect you from the trials and tribulations of falling in love - even if you may be able to borrow a tiara and a castle for your big day. We've rounded up some of their most memorable romantic royal partnerships...

The most iconic royal romances

1. Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales

TRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince William and Kate Middleton famously met while they were university students at St Andrews, and started dating in 2001 amidst great public interest. The Prince and Princess of Wales married a decade later in 2011 in front of a global audience of billions and frequently accompany one another on joint engagements - to the delight of waiting crowds. They share three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

The Making of a Royal Romance by Katie Nicholl | £8.92 at Amazon

The Making of a Royal Romance by Katie Nicholl | £8.92 at Amazon

Published in 2011, this provides a fascinating insight into the lives of Prince William and Kate. It reflects back on her childhood, her close family and her romance with the future King. The book goes up to the preparations for the couple's fairytale wedding and also focuses on their life in Wales together.

2. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Members of the British royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten (later Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), London, 20th November 1947

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the heir to the throne from a young age, the man the future Queen Elizabeth II would marry was of utmost importance. The late monarch wed Prince Philip in 1947 - five years before she acceded to the throne - and the pair went on to become the longest-married royal couple in history. They had four children, King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. 

3. Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a wedding dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel and the Spencer family Tiara, ride in an open carriage, from St. Paul's Cathedral to Buckingham Palace, following their wedding on July 29, 1981 in London, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When they married in 1981, the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was presented as a modern fairytale and widely broadcast around the world. However, despite the arrival of two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, cracks soon began appearing in their relationship behind palace doors. They separated in 1992 and finalised their divorce in 1996 - a year before the Princess of Wales' tragic death.

4. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex wave as they leave Windsor Castle after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House, hosted by the Prince of Wales on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The romance of Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle could be the plotline of a Hollywood film. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex started dating after meeting through a mutual friend in London and married in front of billions in 2018. After stepping back from royal duties in 2020, the couple - who are parents to Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet - moved to California to raise their family.

5. King George and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon et le Duc d'York au balcon de Buckingham après leur cérémonie de mariage le 26 avril 1923 à Londres, Royaume-Uni

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It is little known that Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon - who would become known as the Queen Mother - turned down the proposal of Prince Albert, the future King George VI, three times before she finally accepted. The pair, who had met at a dance, went on to walk down the aisle in 1923 and had two children, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. They became king and queen upon the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936.

6. King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark

Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark wave from the balcony of Christian VII's Palace after their wedding on May 14, 2004 in Copenhagen, Denmark

(Image credit: Getty Images)

King Frederik met the future Queen Mary of Denmark, who is Australian, by complete chance. In what is now the stuff of royal romance legend, he was a prince in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics and she was a local working in luxury real estate when they crossed paths in the city during a night out. The couple - who became king and queen in 2023 - married in 2004, and have two children, Prince Christian and Princess Isabella.

7. Mike and Zara Tindall

Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips depart after their Royal wedding at Canongate Kirk on July 30, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While Zara Phillips was never raised to be a working royal by her mother Princess Anne, she remains one of the most popular members of the family with the public - in part thanks to her heart-warming marriage with former rugby professional Mike Tindall. They met during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Sydney and married in 2011, before going on to welcome three children, Mia, Lena and Lucas.

8. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

View of just-married couple Sarah, Duchess of York (center left), and Prince Andrew, Duke of York (center right), as they kiss on kiss the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, England, July 23, 1986

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite first meeting as children, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson are believed to have been set up by Princess Diana at Royal Ascot in 1985. The couple, who went on to become the Duke and Duchess of York, married the following year and welcomed two children, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. While they separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996, they have remained close friends and still live together near Windsor Castle.

9. Prince Edward and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh

The newly-wed British royal couple Prince Edward (R) and Sophie Rhys-Jones greet wellwishers on their way from Windsor Castle after the wedding ceremony 19 June 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Prince Edward first crossed paths with Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1987, she was working at Capital Radio and he was dating her friend. However, the couple - who would go on to become the Count and Countess of Wessex, and then the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh - properly started dating in 1993. They went on to marry in 1999 and have two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Earl of Wessex.

10. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank

Jack Brooksbank and Princess Eugenie leave St George's Chapel after their wedding ceremony on October 12, 2018 in Windsor, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank were introduced during a 2010 ski trip in Verbier, Switzerland when she was 20 and he was 24. She later described the meeting with the marketing executive as 'love at first sight'. They married in front of a televised audience in 2018, and are parents to two children, August and Earnest.

11. Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones attend the Royal Ballet at the MET circa May 1974 in New York City

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was a whirlwind romance between Princess Margaret and photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones after they met at a dinner party in 1958. The couple walked down the aisle in 1960 - upon which date he became Earl of Snowdon - in what was the first ever royal wedding to be broadcast on television. They went on to have two children, David and Sarah, but separated in 1976 before finalising their divorce in 1978.

12. Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi

Princess Beatrice of York and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi attend the Lenny Kravitz & Dom Perignon 'Assemblage' exhibition, the launch Of Lenny Kravitz' UK Photography Exhibition, on July 10, 2019 in London, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Princess Beatrice was introduced to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi through a mutual friend in 2018. They married in a small, secret ceremony amidst the pandemic in 2020 - which was also when the princess officially became stepmother to the businessman's son Christopher from a previous relationship. Shortly after this, the couple welcomed their first child Sienna.

13. Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence

Timothy Laurence and Princess Anne arrive at the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral on June 03, 2022 in London, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It is thought that Princess Anne first met Timothy Laurence in 1986 when he was working as an equerry for her mother, the Queen, and she was still married to Captain Mark Phillips. After their 1989 separation, she again crossed paths with Laurence - who became a commander on the Royal Yacht Britannia. A month after her divorce was finalised in 1992 she went official with the new relationship, and they married that same year.

14. Prince Charles and Queen Camilla

HRH the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and The Duchess Of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles in silk dress by Robinson Valentine and head-dress by Philip Treacy, leaves the Service of Prayer and Dedication blessing their marriage at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2005 in Berkshire, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

King Charles and Queen Camilla first met at a polo match in 1970 through a mutual friend. While they both went on to wed and build families with others - Princess Diana and Andrew Parker-Bowles - they maintained a close connection, as famously documented in Netflix series The Crown. They eventually married in 2005, and have gone on to win over the public with their enduring love, becoming king and queen in 2022.

15. King Edward and Wallis Simpson

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson posing at the Castle of Conde on their wedding day. Monts, 3rd June 1937

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In one of the most romantic royal moments of all time, King Edward VIII abdicated from the British throne in 1936 to wed an American woman called Wallis Simpson. The couple had been prohibited from marrying while he was still monarch and head of the Church of England because she was a double divorcée. A year later, they tied the knot in France and spent the rest of their lives residing in a property known as Villa Windsor on the outskirts of Paris.

16. Lord Frederick Windsor and Sophie Winkleman

Lord Freddie Windsor poses with his bride Sophie Winkleman in the Base Court, minutes after their wedding in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace on September 12, 2009 in Richmond upon Thames, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was New Year's Eve in London's Soho in 2006 when Lord Frederick Windsor met Sophie Winkleman, the half-sister of TV star Claudia Winkleman. The financial analyst - who is the son of the late Queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent - is believed to have recognised the actress from her role in the series Peep Show. They married in 2009 and have two children, Maud and Isabella. 

17. Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips

Princess Anne and Mark Phillips pose on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London after their wedding, UK, 14th November 1973

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was through their mutual love of horses that Princess Anne met Captain Mark Phillips in 1968, while he was still working in the army. The couple married in 1973, and went on to have two children, Zara and Peter. However, their relationship wasn't to last and they separated in 1989 before going on to divorce in 1992. 

18. Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend

Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend photographed at Kimberley during Royal tour of South Africa. April 1947

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most heartbreaking royal romances was Princess Margaret's ill-fated dalliance with Peter Townsend. The Queen's younger sister was a teenager when she first fell in 1947 for the Royal Air Force pilot, who was 15 years her senior, while he was serving as an equerry to her father. Despite becoming engaged in 1953, their hopes of marriage were quashed due to Townsend's status as a divorced man and they called off their relationship in 1955.  

19. Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy

Prince Harry talks to his girlfriend Chelsy Davy at the "Concert for Diana", held in memory of his mother Princess Diana, at Wembley Stadium in London, 01 July 2007

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Before Prince Harry met Meghan Markle, one of his most high-profile romances was with Chelsy Davy. They first started dating in 2004 in South Africa, where she had grown up, between him finishing at Eton and starting military training at Sandhurst. While they split in 2010, due to what the Duke of Sussex later said was media attention, they remained on good terms - and the businesswoman attended his 2018 nuptials.

20. Pippa Middleton and James Matthews

Pippa Middleton and James Matthews leave after getting married at the wedding Of Pippa Middleton and James Matthews at St Mark's Church on May 20, 2017 in Englefield Green, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Princess of Wales' younger sister Pippa Middleton shot to prominence as the maid of honour at her 2011 royal wedding. She got her own happily ever after in 2017 when she walked down the aisle with hedge fund manager James Matthews - the older brother of reality TV star Spencer Matthews. The couple have three children, Arthur, Grace and Rose.

21. Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly

Peter Phillips marries Autumn Kelly at St. George's Chapel on May 17, 2008 in Windsor, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Peter Phillips - who is the son of Captain Mark Phillips and Princess Anne - met Autumn Kelly at the Canadian Grand Prix in 2003 when he was working for Williams F1. They walked down the aisle in 2008 and welcomed two children, Savannah and Isla. However, they divorced in 2021, describing their split as 'sad' but 'amicable'.

22. Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones and Daniel Chatto

Sarah Armstrong-Jones daughter of Britain's Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon with her groom Daniel Chatto after their wedding at St Stephen Walbrook in the City 14 July 1994

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, the daughter of Princess Margaret, enjoyed a very low-key romance by royal standards. She met her future husband Daniel Chatto during a trip to India in the 1980s, and the couple married in 1994 in front of 200 people in a ceremony that lasted just 30 minutes. They have two children, Arthur and Samuel.  

23. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent

Prince Michael of Kent and his bride, German nobility Princess Michael of Kent (Baroness Christine von Reibnitz) pose outside the British Embassy in Vienna, Austria, 30th June 1978

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Michael of Kent, a cousin of the Queen, met Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz in the late 1970s when she was recently divorced. After he gave up his line in the succession to marry her, they walked down the aisle in 1978 - when she became Princess Michael of Kent. The couple have two children, Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor.

24. James Middleton and Alizee Thevenet

Alizee Thevenet and James Middleton attend the Bulgari gala dinner to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and unveil the 'Jubilee Emerald Garden' high jewellery set at Westminster Abbey on July 1, 2022 in London, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After a high-profile relationship with actress Donna Air, the Princess of Wales' younger brother James Middleton has revealed how he was struggling with depression when he met Alizee Thevenet. He described how his cocker spaniel, Ella, bounded over to his future wife at the private South Kensington Club in 2018. The couple married in 2021 and have one child, Inigo.

25. Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston

Mr Thomas Kingston and Lady Gabriella Windsor share a kiss on the steps of the chapel after their wedding at St George's Chapel on May 18, 2019 in Windsor, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lady Gabriella Windsor first met Thomas Kingston in 2015 through mutual friends - after he reportedly dated Pippa Middleton. The daughter of the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent described her future husband as 'very special' and the pair walked down the aisle in 2019. 

26. King Felipe and Queen Letizia

Crown Prince Felipe Of Spain, Prince Of The Asturias, With His Bride Crown Princess Letizia And His Parents King Juan Carlos Of Spain And Queen Sofia In The Royal Palace in May 2004

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In a rather smooth move, Prince Felipe of Spain asked a mutual friend - journalist Pedro Erquicia - to set him up on a date in 2002 with news anchor Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano after being impressed by one of her broadcasts. The couple, who became king and queen in 2014, married a couple of years later and have two children, Leonor and Sofia.

27. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia

King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden marries Silvia Sommerlath at Stockholm Cathedral on June 19, 1976

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden met his German–Brazilian future wife, Silvia Sommerlath, at the Olympics in Munich in 1972. The couple are said to have instantly 'clicked'. He acceded to the throne as King Carl XVI Gustaf a year later, and the couple married in 1976 - when she became Queen Silvia. They have three children, Princess Victoria, Prince Carl and Princess Madeline.

28. Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly

The wedding of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand de Grimaldi, to American actress Grace Kelly, known thereafter as Princess Grace

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most iconic royal romances in history is the union of Prince Ranier III of Monaco and Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly. The couple met when the Hollywood star was in town for Cannes, and after a whirlwind one-year courtship they married in 1955. The couple had three children - Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stéphanie - but Grace sadly died aged 52, in 1982, after suffering a mild cerebral haemorrhage while driving, which caused a car crash.

29. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima

Royal Wedding of the Prince Willem-Alexander with Maxima Zorreguieta In Amsterdam, Netherlands On February 02, 2002

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti met at a party in Seville, Spain in 1999. The future Dutch monarch decided initially to keep his royal status a secret from the Argentine, who was working at Deutsche Bank in New York at the time. They married in 2002, became king and queen in 2013 and have three children, Princesses Amalia, Alexia and Ariane.

30. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco

Princess Charlene of Monaco and Prince Albert Of Monaco smile as they leave the palace after the religious ceremony of the Royal Wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Charlene Wittstock in the main courtyard at Prince's Palace on July 2, 2011 in Monaco

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Back in 2000, Prince Albert of Monaco met Zimbabwe-born professional swimmer Charlene Wittstock at a sporting event in Monte Carlo. The couple married in 2011 in a lavish two-day ceremony reminiscent of the union of his parents Prince Ranier III and Grace Kelly, and in 2014 welcomed twins called Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella.

31. King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan

Prince Abdullah, the eldest son of Jordan's King Hussein, poses with his bride Rania Yassine, 28, after their wedding ceremony at the Royal Palace in Amman 10 June 1993. Prince Abdallah ascended the throne on the death of his father King Hussein 07 February 1999

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Abdullah of Jordan described it as 'love at first sight' when he met Rania Al-Yassin - who had just moved to the country with her Palestinian medical family from Kuwait - at a dinner party in 1992. The pair married less than a year later and became King Abdullah II and Queen Rania in 1999. They have four children, Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma and Prince Hashem.

32. David, Earl of Snowdon and Serena Stanhope

The Wedding Of Viscount David Linley To Serena Stanhope In London in 1993

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Romance can strike out of nowhere, as David Armstrong-Jones discovered. The son of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones met his future wife Serena Stanhope when her father commissioned him to design a table. The Earl and Countess of Snowdon married in 1993 and have two children together, Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley. However, after 26 years of marriage, they announced they were splitting 'amicably' in 2022.

Lauren Clark

Lauren is a freelance writer and editor with more than six years of digital and magazine experience. In addition to she has penned news and features for titles including Women's Health, The Telegraph, Stylist, Dazed, Grazia, The Sun's Fabulous, Yahoo Style UK and Get The Gloss. 

While Lauren specializes in covering wellness topics—ranging from nutrition and fitness, to health conditions and mental wellbeing—she has written across a diverse range of lifestyle topics, including beauty and travel. Career highlights so far include: luxury spa-hopping in Spain, interviewing Heidi Klum and joining an £18k-a-year London gym.