A woman married a man she met 12 years ago at a nightclub in Washington D.C. It turns out he is a prince, and a descendant of the last emperor of Ethiopia.
When Ariana Austin met Joel Makonnen at the Pearl nightclub, he approached Austin and her friend with a cheesy pick up line, The New York Times reported.
“I said, ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,’ or whatever the gin was,” Mr. Makonnen said. He then quickly went for the win. “Not even five minutes later I said, ‘You’re going to be my girlfriend.’”
Makonnen is a great grandson of Haile Selassie, the 225th in a line of emperors that ruled Ethiopia until a coup in 1974. Legend has it that Selassie’s family lineage traces all the way back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, according to an earlier Times report. Makonnen didn’t reveal his royal heritage to Austin until they started seriously dating.
“You don’t expect to meet the person you’re going to marry at Pearl,” said Jami Ramberan, bridesmaid and the friend who was with Austin at the club the night she met Makonnen.
Austin is an American, of African-American and Guyanese descent. She has a grandfather that was lord mayor of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. Austin and Makonnen were both busy, ambitious people at the time they met. Constant travel and dedication to career and education prevented them from getting married sooner.
“I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny,” Austin said. “But I felt like I had things that I had to do.”
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The couple had a highly decorated wedding in the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition at a church in Maryland. They were both crowned during the ceremonies. The wedding started at 11 a.m. and continued into the late evening. The festivities were led by at least 13 priests and clergy and took place across two states. Over three hundred guests attended, including VIPs with connections to the royal family.
Makonnen recalls the day he proposed. Austin was alone in her parents house at the time and heard loud banging on her door. She didn’t answer. She called her parents because she thought it was a burglar. Makonnen left, and then came back again. Austin finally opened the door, the Times reported.
“She thought somebody was trying to break in,” said Bobby Austin, the bride’s father. “And it was just the poor guy trying to propose to her.”
“I think I said, ‘Let’s take this journey together,’” Makonnen said. “When I proposed she was like, ‘It’s about time.’”
The couple plans to settle down in the Washington D.C. area.