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10 Arranged Royal Marriages That Resulted in a Happily Ever After

by Jessica Fleming-Montoya
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Although the idea of an arranged marriage today would likely make most of our heads spin, back in the day, royals were expected to participate in arranged weddings. Despite that, not all these weddings were loveless affairs. Here are ten arranged royal weddings that led to the newlyweds falling madly in love.

Related: 10 Cases Of Posthumous Marriage

10 King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

The HAPPY But STRANGE Marriage Of Henry VII And Elizabeth Of York

Most of us are used to hearing about King Henry VIII, but unlike his predecessor, he wasn’t known for successful marriages. On the other hand, King Henry VII had a far more lucky love life.

In January 1486, the young King Henry VII married Elizabeth of York to unite the two houses of York and Lancaster—you know, the ones of the Wars of the Roses fame. However, without having actually met his bride, Henry VII wasn’t convinced that the union was such a good idea. Worried that Elizabeth might claim the throne as rightfully hers, he ensured he was crowned king before the marriage took place.

Despite Henry VII’s worries, everything seems to have changed once he actually met his bride-to-be. Considered to be a beauty, Elizabeth of York eventually wound up winning the heart of Henry VII. Today, tales exist of the two exchanging small gifts throughout their marriage, and it seems they wound up living out a happily ever after.[1]

9 Ivan the Terrible and Anastasia Romanova

The Terrible Truth about Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible is usually associated with war and doom, but he’s also caught up in an interesting love story. Ivan the Terrible, or Ivan IV, was the first official tsar of Russia, and in order to secure his right to the throne, he married Anastasia Romanova in 1547.

Like many other royal marriages, the wedding was a political one, hoping to link two powerful Russian dynasties, the Rurikid and the Romanov, together. Despite the politics behind the marriage, however, it seems that Ivan IV quickly fell head over heels for his new bride.

In fact, according to a number of sources, Anastasia was a positive influence on the ruthless tsar. The trouble is, once she died, she left her husband brokenhearted. Ivan IV became convinced that his bride had been poisoned and launched into a killing frenzy in an attempt to put down any treasonous traitors in his lands. Perhaps if Anastasia hadn’t died young, Ivan IV wouldn’t have been so terrible![2]

8 King George V and Queen Mary

King George and Queen Mary – The First Windsors (Part 1)

Mary was the goddaughter of Queen Victoria, while George was the son of the Prince of Wales. Mary’s favor with her godmother is what ultimately led these two royals to become betrothed.

In 1891, Queen Victoria selected Prince Albert, George’s older brother, as a fine marriage candidate for Mary. However, their engagement didn’t last long, as Prince Albert died of influenza just a few weeks before they were set to wed.

That didn’t put off Mary’s godmother, however. Queen Victoria noticed that Albert’s brother, George, had taken a liking to Mary. She approved of the match, and just one year after Albert’s death, Mary and George were married.

It seems that while the queen had selected the match for its strong connections to the throne and the royal bloodline, Mary and George went on to have a successful marriage. In fact, it was such a successful marriage that it made newspapers as being an exemplar of marriage to the nation. When his father, Edward VII, passed in 1910, George was crowned George V and reigned until 1936.[3]

7 King Edward I and Eleanor of Castille

The Story of King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile eldest son of Henry III

King Edward I was the son of King Henry III and was well-known for his battles against the Scottish and Welsh. However, long before Edward would go on to win any battles, his parents began scheming who he would marry in order to secure the royal lineage. In 1254, his parents selected Eleanor of Castille in order to secure an alliance between England and Castille and ensure France didn’t invade them.

Although the marriage was for political reasons, it quickly became evident that the pair was deeply in love. In fact, the couple was said to be inseparable until Eleanor died in 1290. During their marriage, however, the happy couple had eleven daughters and four sons, leaving a successful heir to the throne.[4]

6 King Charles V and Isabella of Portugal

Empress Isabella of Portugal – The Origin Story

King Charles was the Holy Roman Emperor and the son of King Phillip, making him a powerful figure in Europe during the 1500s. Despite this, he found himself in a political bind, short on money needed for political ventures in central Europe. On top of that, he faced pressure from his Spanish subjects to marry someone from the Iberian Peninsula, preferably someone who had been raised in Spain.

Lucky for King Charles, Isabella of Portugal seemed to be a good match. She was the daughter of Manuel I and Queen Maria of Castille, and Manuel I had promised a hefty dowry. The king accepted the match, although he didn’t get to meet his bride-to-be until just a few hours before his wedding.

Despite all that, the king fell in love with his wife thanks to her beauty and calm nature. He was so besotted that he planned an extended honeymoon in Granada, where the queen became pregnant. The two went on to have a happy, thirteen-year marriage before Isabella’s death in 1539. Even after her death, the king remained besotted, spending hours in front of her portrait, and years later, he died holding what had once been her crucifix.[5]

5 King Edward III and Phillipa of Hainult

Edward III – England’s Greatest King Documentary

King Edward I wasn’t the only King Edward to wind up falling in love with his wife. Several generations later, King Edward III also had the happy fortune of a love-filled marriage.

King Edward III married Philippa, the daughter of Count Willem of Hainault in Holland, in 1327. The reason for the marriage was that Edward’s mother wanted an alliance with Count Willem in order to invade France. The marriage was set, and the two were married when they were just teenagers.

Despite the arranged nature of their marriage and the young age of the betrothed, the two fell deeply in love. In fact, they were married for more than forty years and had a total of twelve children. According to historical records, it seems that the couple spent the majority of their time in each other’s company and kept close correspondences when they were apart, with Edward referring to his wife as his sweetheart.[6]

4 Napoleon and Marie-Louise

The Wives of Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte was the French Emperor for a short stint during the 19th century, and as part of his conquests and search for an heir to the throne, he decided to validate his empire by marrying into European royalty. His selection was Marie-Louise, the Archduchess of Austria.

The wedding took place in 1810 and was the first step toward a budding friendship between Austria and France, which had been engaged in wars together for the past twenty-odd years.

Despite the arranged nature of their marriage, it seems that Marie-Louise and Napoleon grew quite fond of each other. In fact, Marie-Louise even wrote to her father that “He loves me very much. I respond to his love sincerely.” Although the marriage wasn’t as marked by love as that of Napoleon’s first relationship, it seems the two still had a deep connection and a love-filled union.[7]

3 King George III and Queen Charlotte

The life of the real QUEEN CHARLOTTE of Mecklenburg-Strelitz | Who was married to George III?

Most of us are familiar with Queen Charlotte thanks to her appearance in the Netflix series Bridgerton. However, she was a real person, and she truly did love her king.

Queen Charlotte and King George III married in 1761, primarily thanks to the queen’s connections to the royal family and her status as a protestant. Even though they only met on their wedding day, the two seemed to have fallen quite in love. They attended events together and performed musical duets.

Even when the king fell ill in 1789 with mental illness, Charlotte continued to stay loyal to her husband. Although she was forced to live separately from him for her own safety, it seems she did her best to ensure he had the best doctors at his disposal to support him. Their marriage was full of love for the six decades that it lasted.[8]

2 Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Maria Feodorovna

Tsar Alexander III | Biographical Glance

Tsar Nicolas II and his wife, Queen Alexandra, are often praised as being a great love story from Russia. However, Tsar Alexander III and his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, also had quite a romantic marriage.

Maria Feodorovna was born Princess Dagmar of Denmark. Besides being the princess of Denmark, she was also the princess of Greece’s sister and was the sister-in-law to the Prince of Wales. All that meant that she had some powerful connections for any royal in Europe looking to get married.

While there were many suitors interested in her, however, the father of Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich already had ties to Maria’s family and made a proposal for her to marry his son. The two fell quickly in love and agreed to the arrangement.

Tragically, Nicholas fell ill and died before the two could actually be married. Still determined to tie the families together, the Russian family proposed that Maria marry Nicholas’s brother, Alexander. Despite still mourning her lost lover, Maria agreed to the political marriage.

It seems that agreeing was a good idea after all, too, as she wound up falling in love with her new husband. The two seemed to have lived a long and happy life together, with the tsarina sending letters that referred to their fondness to her family back home throughout their marriage.[9]

1 King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence

Henry III – England’s Most Pious King Documentary

King Henry III married Eleanor of Provence in 1236, although the couple had never met before their wedding day. The reason for their marriage was to create ties between the Count of Provence in France and the royal family in England, securing good relations with the powerful French kingdom.

Despite the political reasons for this marriage, it seems that the two had a happy marriage. Their marriage lasted for 36 years, and Henry trusted and loved his wife enough to leave her as the regent of England while he was out of the country.

Henry was reported to have been affectionate and warm-hearted with his wife and spent much of his time in her company. The two had five children throughout their marriage, and they seemed to have been known as good parents as well as a happy couple.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen