This week, a divorced former journalist, Letizia Ortiz, officially became Spain’s first-ever commoner queen, as her husband, Felipe VI, was sworn in as king.
While the ascent of an ordinary commoner to one of the most visible monarchies in Europe may seem like a one-in-a-million, fairytale kind of story, it’s actually becoming increasingly common as rules around marrying into monarchy. In fact, many view Letizia and Felipe’s marriage—as well as other commoner-royal marriages like Kate Middleton and Prince William’s—as a reinvigorating force in monarchies worldwide.
Ordinary folks, it can be argued, bring a certain down-to-earth quality to the monarchy, and are also usually have a broader public appeal. Kate Middleton, for instance, has been credited as being a breath of fresh air for the British monarchy, which had been perceived as rather stoic and unapproachable. The U.K. public seems to absolutely adore her, and even the press has been fairly protective of her. Then there’s the iconic Grace Kelly, who won over Monaco with her poise and, well, grace.
Of course, there are the many recent commoners who married into royalty—Middleton, Charlene Wittstock, and Marie-Chantal Miller, to name a few—but the trend actually stretches back a century or more, including an American socialite who went to India on vacation and wound up a Sikkim queen, a Welsh-born model who waited more than 30 years to marry her royal love, and more.
Click through our gallery to see 25 ordinary commoners who became royal through marriage. Sometimes fairytales come true!