American woman marries Ethiopian prince she met in nightclub

Ariana Austin weds Joel Makonnen at lavish Orthodox Christian wedding with 13 priests

Tom Embury-Dennis
Monday 06 August 2018 15:24
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Joel Makonnen married Ariana Austin at a ceremony in Maryland
Joel Makonnen married Ariana Austin at a ceremony in Maryland

Fairy tales are not known for beginning in a Washington DC nightclub, but for one American woman it was where she met the Ethiopian prince who would go on to become her husband.

Ariana Austin, now 33, was on a night out with a friend when they were approached by Joel Makonnen in the Pearl nightclub.

“I said: ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire',” he told The New York Times about their first encounter.

“Not even five minutes later I said: 'You're going to be my girlfriend'.”

What he didn't reveal that night 12-years ago, was that plain old Joel was actually Prince Joel, the great-grandson of Haile Selassie I, Ethiopia's last emperor.

But after the couple started dating seriously, Mr Makonnen, who works as a lawyer, eventually revealed his royal heritage

Born in Rome, his parents Prince David Makonnen and Princess Adey Imru Makonnen, had been forced to live in exile after a communist coup in his homeland.

(Dotun Ayodeji @dotunayodeji )

His father had escaped the bloodshed in his homeland because he was studying abroad at the time. The family subsequently settled in Switzerland.

Mr Makonnen is related to Haile Selassie I through the emperor’s second son Prince Makonnen.

(Dotun Ayodeji @dotunayodeji )

Haile Selassie was the 225th and last in the line of King of the Kings of Ethiopia, ruling the east African country for 40 years until he was overthrown in 1974.

He died the following year of “circulatory failure” – though many believe he had been murdered days earlier.

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Art's curator, Ms Austin told the newspaper it is an “unbeatable heritage and history” that “combines sheer black power and ancient Christian tradition”.

(Dotun Ayodeji @dotunayodeji )

The royal family traces its roots back to the Biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

The pair married in a lavish Ethiopian Orthodox Christian wedding with 13 priests, two crowns and a pair of capes on 9 September.

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