An Ethiopian Prince Marries His Girlfriend After Initially Keeping His Royal Status a Secret

By Over The Moon

Ariana Austin Prince Yoel of Ethiopia Wedding 1

If you ever wondered what the movie Coming to America would be like in real life, look no further than the love story of Prince Yoel of Ethiopia and Ariana Austin. The two, who tied the knot in September, first met at a Washington D.C. dance club. There, Prince Yoel purposefully omitted his royal lineage when introducing himself and instead chose to use an unusual pick up line on Ariana, who was then enjoying a summer off from college. “I said, ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,” he explained to the New York Times.

Despite the now hilarious introduction (Ariana’s family still jokes about it), the two hit it off and dated on-and-off for twelve years before getting engaged on Valentine’s Day of 2014. The proposal almost didn’t happen though. Prince Yoel, who may have been a little overly excited about asking Ariana to marry him, inadvertently knocked loudly on her door that night, leading her to believe someone was trying to break in. “He was aggressively knocking so I didn’t answer,” she told the Times. “He came back, and then I opened the door.”

Their fall wedding at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Maryland was a mix of his “Old World aristocracy” and her “New World charm,” according to the couple’s wedding website. For the reception at Foxchase Manor, the groom, whose a descendant of the biblical King Solomon and the great-grandson of the last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, invited a guest list that included many of his royal family members including HIH Prince Paul Makonnen. While the bride, a Harvard grad who now works in philanthropy, invited a number of prominent D.C. figures such as Dr. Johnnetta Cole, the former director of the National Museum of African Art, and Sharon Pratt, the former mayor of Washington, D.C., making their wedding one of the most exclusive events in the nation’s capitol. Hollywood, perhaps it’s time for a Coming to America reboot?

Photographed By: Dotun Ayodeji