Human Interest

This Woman Married A Real-Life Prince She Met In A Nightclub

In my 30-something years of life, I have met a lot of interesting men in the club.

I've met doctors, hot Australian special forces troops, and even a guy still rocking a jheri curl - all gold everything, and diamond grills. But in all my club travels I have never met a prince of any kind - not a man named Prince, nor a real life prince. In fact, when it comes to men at the club, most of us usually just meet a headache.


But, for Ariana Austin, a Washington DC philanthropist, the club was the jumping off place of her real-life fairytale. Only this fairytale was straight out of Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America. Twelve years ago, one fateful night, Ariana met Joel Makonnen at a Washington DC-area club called Pearl.

When Prince Yoel approached his future wife, he introduced himself as "Joel." He told Ariana that she and her friend, Jami Ramberan, looked like a Bombay Sapphire ad. Not a very princely pick-up line, but he knew what he wanted and made it clear. "You're going to be my girlfriend," he said to her later that night. 

Along the way the truth of their lineages came out. Joel was actually Prince Yoel, the 35-year-old great-grandson of Haile Selassie who was the last emperor of Ethiopia. Ariana, was no stranger to stateliness either. She was the granddaughter of the lord of Georgetown (the capital city of Guyana)

Ariana soon fell for Prince Yoel, and the couple spent their courtship keeping busy. They wrote on their wedding website,

From the streets of Adams Morgan to boulevards in Paris, from Howard to Harvard, holidays in Nice and Addis, we talked history and culture and law. We’ve always believed that when it came to our love — it was written — and we’re thrilled to experience the next chapter unfold.

Ariana told The New York Times,

“I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny...But I felt like I had things that I had to do.”

The ceremony took place at the Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Md and was complete with royal capes and crowns. As expected, the reception was just as lit. Complete with a photo booth, a candy table and plenty of Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye.

For those of us who side-eye our way through the club and assume every man within sight is an emotionally unavailable f-boy, here is a case study for the ages. Despite the setting (and his lackluster opening remarks), the man Ariana met at Pearl that evening in DC ended up being her actual prince-charming.

I can only imagine how many frogs this real-life Princess had to kiss before meeting her future spouse, but let the record show, that love - even the Disney princess kind of love - can find you anywhere.

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