We do not think of monarchy when someone mentions South America. Yet, several South Americans have married into European royalty and are now queens and princesses. Here are 9 of them:
1. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Argentine.
Maxima is one of the most popular European royals. And she is the most popular royal in her adoptive country, The Netherlands.
Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her ancestors have been landowners, politicians, doctors, and bankers in Argentina for generations. She even has independence heroes in her family tree.
Maxima is of Spanish, French, and Italian descent.
Maxima, the economist
The future queen attended a posh private school in Buenos Aires. Then, she studied Economics at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica of Argentina.
Throughout her twenties, Maxima worked in finance at Argentine and American companies.
At twenty-five, she relocated to New York to work at an investment company, HSBC James Capel INC. She was the Vice president of the Department of Institutional Sales for Latin America.
Three years, later she landed the same position at the Deutsche Bank. She first worked for them in New York, then in Brussels.
And thanks to that relocation to Europe, she met her Prince Charming.
Maxima finds love at a fair in Seville
In April 1999, Maxima and her childhood friend Cynthia Kaufmann were at a fair in Seville (Spain). There, they bumped into Willem-Alexander, a friend of Cynthia’s. So Cynthia introduced them.
Willem-Alexander was captivated by the fun, spontaneous Argentine. So they agreed to meet a few weeks later in New York. When they saw each other again in the U.S., Maxima too became infatuated with Willem, and the duo started dating.
Maxima did not know he was a prince. When he told her that he was the heir to the Dutch throne, she laughed, thinking he was joking.
Almost two years after they first met, in March 2001, they announced their engagement. And the following year, they married in Amsterdam when Maxima was 29 years old.
They have three daughters: Princess of Orange Catharina-Amalia, Alexia, and Ariane.
2. Queen Silvia of Sweden. Brazilian.
Young Walter Sommerlath could not find a job in his natal Germany. The war had recently ended, and the unemployment rates were high. So in 1920, he emigrated.
Silvia is raised in Brazil and Germany
In 1937, the Sommerlaths moved back to Berlin, and Walter bought a steel factory. Two years later, World War II broke out, and they could no longer leave Germany.
In 1943, Silvia was born in Germany. And when she was three, the family was finally able to return to Brazil. Silvia and her siblings were raised there.
The future royal attended a bilingual school in Sao Paulo, which was founded by German immigrants.
When she was fourteen, and the war had ended, the family relocated once more to Germany.
Silvia studied languages at the Munich School of Interpreting from 1965 to 1969. She majored in Spanish. The queen is fluent in 6 languages: Portuguese, German, English, Spanish, Swedish, and French.
After graduating, she worked at the Argentine Consulate in Munich. And then, fatefully, as a hostess trainer for the 1972 Summer Olympics of Munich.
Falling in love at the Olympics
The Brazilian interpreter was in charge of high-profile guests at the Olympics. And the crown prince of Sweden, Carl Gustav, was one of such guests. So there, in an Olympic VIP lounge, they met.
Carl Gustav has said that they “just clicked.” He asked her out on a date immediately, and that night they were having dinner together.
Two years later, Silvia moved to Sweden to be closer to her beloved. They announced their engagement in March 1976, four years after meeting. And the couple married in June. Carl Gustav was already king by then.
Read also: These are the 8 most spoken languages in the Americas: and you won’t guess half of them.
3. Tatiana of Monaco. Colombian and Brazilian.
Tatiana is of Spanish, Portuguese, and Jewish descent.
Tatiana was born in New York (1983). The family lived in Park Avenue, but she was raised in Europe. The heiress attended The International School of Geneva.
She went on to study Art History at the American University of London. And then lived in New York, where she worked for Vanity Fair magazine.
With such cosmopolitan life, she speaks five languages fluently: her paternal Spanish, her maternal Portuguese, plus French, Italian, and English.
A low-profile relationship with a Monegasque royal
During her school years, she became friends with Charlotte Casiraghi. Charlotte is the daughter of the famous Caroline of Monaco. So Charlotte, too, had a powerful grandfather: the ruler of Monaco, Rainier III.
Charlotte introduced Tatiana to her brother, Andrea Casiraghi. At the time, Andrea was second in line to the throne of the principality.
The South American and the Monegasque hit it off. She and Andrea are very private about their relationship. But they have been together since at least 2004 -the year they were first photographed together in Spain.
In 2013, they wed in a civil ceremony in Monaco. And in 2014, in a religious and very private one in Gstaad, a ski town in Switzerland.
The couple now lives in London, a city Tatiana fell in love with while studying college there.
Andrea and the South American heiress have three children: Alexander, India, and Maximilian.
4. Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. Ecuadorian.
The story of Marie-Chantal Miller’s parents is one of rags to riches, especially her mom’s.
Her mom, Maria Clara Pesantes, is Ecuadorian. She was raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. Maria Clara’s dad was a construction worker who died when she was nine.
Maria Clara is of Native American and Spanish descent.
According to Ecuadorian historian Rodolfo Perez, Maria Clara dropped out of school at sixteen. And she found herself a job at a store that sold fabrics, for she had a gift for tailoring.
When she had saved enough money, she emigrated to New York. And once again, Maria Clara landed a job at a clothing store, this time as a receptionist. With a new country came a new name. Maria Clara became Marie-Chantal.
Through her work, Marie-Chantal Pesantes met Robert Miller, a businessman from the U.S., who at the time was broke. But Robert was starting a duty-free business.
They fell in love and got married.
The Miller’s lifestyle
Soon, Robert’s business skills made him a billionaire. So the family kept homes around the world. They even had a hunting lodge in Yorkshire, England, set on 35,000 acres of land.
Marie-Chantal Jr. was born in London in 1968. But the family lived in Hong Kong, where Marie Chantal and her two sisters were raised. The Millers spent their summers sailing to Thailand, the Philippines, or the Mediterranean.
At nine, Marie-Chantal, Jr. was enrolled at Le Rosey. Le Rosey is an exclusive Swiss school which educates the children of European aristocrats and uber-wealthy Latin Americans.
Five years later, the Millers bought a home in Paris, and the girls transferred to a French school nearby.
After graduation, the socialite attended a handful of different schools, from NYU to Sarah Lawrence. She was still searching for the right career fit when she met her future husband.
Marie-Chantal’s successful blind date
A family friend of the Millers, Alecko Papamarkou, was playing matchmaker. He was set on introducing Marie-Chantal to Pavlos, the crown prince of Greece.
Both guinea-pigs were reticent, but Alecko finally got his way. He took Marie-Chantal to a party he knew Pavlos would attend. And arranged for them to sit next to each other during dinner. Evidently, it worked.
Marie-Chantal says that it was love at first sight. While Pavlos says he was “completely taken,” that she was the person he had been looking for.
Two years later, in 1994, they got married. And her dad gave her a 200 million dollar dowry.
* Monarchy was abolished in Greece in 1974. Pavlos’ father, Constantine II, was the last actual king of Greece.
5. Princess Alexandra von Furstenberg. Ecuadorian.
Alexandra Miller (born in 1972) is the younger sister of Marie-Chantal of Greece. Unsurprisingly, Alexandra’s upbringing mirrors Marie-Chantal’s. She, too, was raised in Hong Kong and schooled in Europe and the United States.
Alexandra attended Parsons and Brown, where she studied Art History and Costume Design. And it was at Brown that she met her future husband, Prince Alexander von Furstenberg.
By 2002 the Alexes had separated. And then they got divorced. Alexandra, nonetheless, kept her title of Princess von Furstenberg until 2015, when she remarried.
* The principality of Furstenberg is now part of Germany and has not had a ruler since 1806.
6. Princess Alessandra de Osma. Peruvian.
Alessandra de Osma was born in Lima, Peru (1988).
Her mom, Elizabeth Foy, is a Peruvian model, while her dad, Felipe de Osma, hails from Lima’s high society. His ancestors have been politicians, diplomats, and landowners in Peru for generations. (Here is a picture of Elizabeth and Felipe.)
Alessandra attended a private school in Lima. When she was a teen, her mom took her to New York to become a model. Alessandra was signed by the Ford agency, and she walked for brands such as Missoni. But that was not really her dream. What Alessandra wanted was to own her own fashion brand.
Alessandra builds up her resume
So she went back to Lima and studied Law. Then she spent one year as an exchange student at La Sorbonne University in Paris.
Afterwards, the Peruvian jetted to England. In London, she did an internship with famous fashion photographer Mario Testino, a fellow Peruvian. Then, she interned at the famous auction house Sotheby’s in Madrid.
Work experience gained, she began her Masters at the Fashion Business School of the University of Navarre (Spain).
Meeting her prince
But Alessandra had met her prince way before that, when they were both teenagers, in 2005.
In 2005, Prince Ernest of Hanover, Carolina of Monaco’s husband, traveled to Lima for business. His 19-year-old son, Prince Christian, traveled with him. And they stayed at the house of Alessandra’s uncle.
One day, Ernest asked if someone could take his son for a tour of the city. Alessandra’s mom volunteered her daughter. Alessandra and Christian spent the day together touring the historical sites of Lima and became friends.
Years later, they ran into each other in Spain, and this time they fell in love.
Alessandra and Christian’s wedding
The religious ceremony was held in the basilica, located in Lima’s historical center. It was followed by a lavish lunch at the exclusive Club Nacional. Afterwards, there was a reception at Beckermeyers House, owned by Alessandra’s family.
The next day, the real wedding party took place at the Museum Pedro de Osma, owned by the family. The museum houses the art collection of Alessandra’s grandfather. The building was commissioned by Alessandra’s great-grandfather, Pedro de Osma, a politician who founded the newspaper La Prensa.
Christian and Alessandra live in Madrid and in 2020 had twins, a boy and a girl.
* Hanover, Germany, has not had a king in over a century. If it did, Ernest of Hanover would be the king. He is also in line for the succession to the British throne.
7. Duchess of Anjou Margarita of Bourbon. Venezuelan.
Margarita Vargas Santaella is an heiress from Venezuela.
Margarita was born in Caracas in 1983. Her parents are Carmen Leonor Santaella, who comes from a wealthy family of bankers, and Victor Vargas Irausquin. Both are of Spanish descent.
Victor was not born rich but now owns both a bank and an investment company.
The family has several homes in Venezuela -city and beach-. They also own homes in Miami, New York, Colorado, Switzerland, France, a 70-million-dollar house in Palm Beach, and a summer home in the Dominican Republic.
Margarita’s dad owns horses and a polo team. Riding is, to this day, part of the culture of the family.
The future duchess attended Merici, a traditional school in Caracas run by Catholic nuns. Then she majored in Pedagogy at the Metropolitan University of Caracas.
One wedding leads to another
When Margarita was 17, her older sister married Francisco Javier d’Agostino. And among the wedding guests was Prince Louis de Bourbon, claimant to the French throne.
Margarita and Louis were instantly smitten with each other. Among the things they had in common was a sad one: both had lost a sibling. Louis’ brother died in a car crash at the age of 12, while Margarita’s brother died unexpectedly from a fast disease.
The pair began a long-distance relationship for Louis, the heir to the French throne, lived in Spain, while Margarita lived in Venezuela.
Against the odds, their long-distance relationship blossomed. After four years (2004), they wed in the Dominican Republic, at her family’s vacation home.
So some of those who wish to see the monarchy restored in France consider Margarita queen consort.
The couple lives in Spain and has four children: Eugenia, twins Luis and Alfonso, and Enrique.
* France no longer has a monarchy. Still, Prince Louis, Duke of Anjou, is one of the two active claimants to the French throne.
8. Duchess of France Micaela d’Orleans. Chilean.
Micaela’s family was one of the wealthiest in Chile for generations.
Her great-grandmother, Chilean Isidora Goyenechea, (b. 1836), was the heiress of a fortune that included ships, stocks, lands, and mines of silver and coal.
Once widowed, Isabel moved to France to school her children there. And since then, the family has moved back and forth between France and Chile.
A French-loving family
Micaela’s father (Isidora’s grandson), Luis Maximiliano Cousino, was born in Paris. His first wife was Chilean, and his second wife died in Chile.
That second wife was a noblewoman: Anne Marie Quinones de Leon y Banuelos, Marchioness of San Carlos, and Grandee of Spain. Luis and the marchioness had seven children, including Micaela. Some of them were born in Europe, others in Chile.
Micaela was born in France in 1938. And she was raised at the palace of Fenelon, which belonged to her maternal family. Then she lived in Biarritz, on the property of her grandfather, the Marquis of Alcedo.
She attended French schools and a boarding school in England. Unlike some of her siblings that lived in Chile, Micaela chose to live her adult life in Europe.
She studied history and linguistics at La Sorbonne. And she worked for an advertising and communications firm in Madrid, Spain. Then, as an editor in France.
Michaela is in the eye of the storm
While working on an editorial project in 1974, Micaela met Prince Henri d’Orleans. They have always said it was love at first sight, and passionate at that. Which represented quite a problem because while Micaela was divorced, Henri was not.
The 41-year-old prince was married to the very blue-blooded Princess Marie-Therese von Württemberg. They had been together for 17 years and had five children.
Henri left his wife despite fierce opposition from his family and friends. When he divorced Marie-Therese, his father disinherited him and cut him out of the line of succession.
Nevertheless, Henri and Micaela carried on with their romance and married in 1984.
Six years later, Henri’s father softened and reinstated him as his heir. And he even gave Micaela the honorary title of Princess of Joinville.
The other half of French monarchists consider that it is Michaela who is their queen.
* France no longer has a monarchy. But Micaela’s husband, Prince Henry, Count of Paris and Duke of France, was the other active claimant to the throne of France (until his death in 2019).
9. Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark. Venezuelan.
Tatiana Blatnik’s roots in South America are not as deep as those of the previous royals, as she is a second-generation Venezuelan. But it would be unfair to leave her out of the list. And she has stated that she does feel Venezuelan.
Two expats meet in Venezuela
Tatiana’s German mom, Marie Blanche Berlain, was raised in Spain. As an adult, Marie Blanche moved to Venezuela.
Likewise, Tatiana’s Slovenian dad, Ladislav Blatnik, immigrated to Venezuela. And he acquired Venezuelan citizenship.
So it was in the South American country that the migrants met and began a relationship.
Their daughter Tatiana was born in Caracas in 1980.
However, the pair split soon afterwards. And Marie Blanche married another Venezuelan, this time one born and bred, investor Atilio Brillembourg. (Here is a picture of Marie Blanche and Atilio.)
Off to Switzerland
Marie Blanche, her daughter, and her new husband moved to Gstaad (Switzerland) in 1983. And in Switzerland, Tatiana was raised in a Spanish-speaking household.
When Tatiana was six, her father died, and Atilio became a second father to her. He is the one who gave her away on her wedding day.
Despite her multicultural background, the royal masters only two languages. She speaks her native Spanish and English, which she learned at school.
Tatiana attended Aiglon College, an exclusive English-speaking boarding school in Switzerland. And then she went to Georgetown, in the United States, where she majored in Sociology.
The most gorgeous girl
In 2000, Prince Nikolaos of Greece -the younger brother of Pavlos of Greece, mentioned above– was in Gstaad with his friend Boris. They were are at a nightclub called Gringo. All of a sudden, a girl approached Boris, whispered in his ear, and left. Nikolas turned to his friend and asked: “How could you let the most gorgeous girl escape?” Boris replied: “She is my sister!”
Nicolaos had met Tatiana years before when she was a girl, but now that she was twenty, he did not recognize her.
After the run-in in Gstaad, he started wooing her. For a solid year and a half.
He lived in London, she, in Washington. He was certain he would marry her, she was not so sure about starting a relationship with him.
But after months of receiving calls, flowers, and invitations to go out, she came around. Tatiana says they have been inseparable since 2003.
The couple got married in 2010. And in a nod to her birth country, her wedding gown was made by Venezuelan designer Angel Sanchez.
They live in Greece.
* Like all countries in the Americas, Venezuela awards citizenship to everyone born in their territory.