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The American Teen Who Fell in Love With a Crown Prince of a Tiny Kingdom

You know that American actress Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier of Monaco, and of course, Meghan Markle recently married Prince Harry of Britain. But you might not know about New York socialite Hope Cooke, who fell for Palden Thondup Namgyal, the crown prince of the Kingdom of Sikkim. You might not even know about Sikkim. The tiny Himalayan nation is now a state of India.

She was 19 years old and taking a course in typing in Darjeeling, India, when she met the man she was going to marry. He was 36, a widower with three children. They met in the lobby of the Windamere Hotel and bonded over growing up isolated — she, an American by birth, had lost her mother at a young age, then the grandparents who’d helped to raise her. “I just fell in love with his sad, sad eyes,” she later told the press. They were engaged two years later, in 1961, and married in March of 1963. Two years after that, they were crowned king and queen.

Sikkim only lasted ten more years from that point, but the marriage lasted even less. When Cooke left Skkim and returned to the US, she was no longer an American citizen. Read the story of Hope Cooke, the Sarah Lawrence student who became a monarch, at Ozy.


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