14 Unlikely Royal Friendships That Will Surprise You
Who does the British royal family like to hang out with? Their choice of pals is often unexpected.
Eddie Redmayne and Prince William
Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne went to school with Prince William at Eton and even played on the same rugby team. Although the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them actor says William was “substantially” the better player, “The thing about playing rugby with Prince William is it was great for us, because all the people from the other schools would want to tackle him because they could go home and tell their families they tackled Prince William. So we were sort of running around with no one on us,” he said in an interview. The schoolmates recently caught up a couple of years ago at an event, where Redmayne says they bonded over being new dads.
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David Beckham and Princes William and Harry
Soccer legend David Beckham might be a national United Kingdom treasure, and he certainly has the approval of the royal family. Beckham and his wife, Victoria, attended both Prince William’s and Prince Harry’s weddings. He even hung out with Queen Elizabeth at an event at Buckingham Palace. “I’ve been here a couple of times now, and every time it is very special,” Beckham told reporters. But Beckham cast his friendship with the princes in a more ordinary light. “It’s a very normal relationship,” he told Esquire. “They’re very easy to get along with.”
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Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Princess Beatrice
William and Harry aren’t the only royal members of their generation with celebrity friends. Their cousin Princess Beatrice, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s daughter, has her own BFF celeb pals in Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. The princess reportedly met the couple through Beatrice’s now-ex, Dave Clark. The buds shared an Uber in New York City, hung out at a mutual friend’s wedding, and even vacationed together in St. Tropez.
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Meghan Markle and Serena Williams
Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, is a celebrity herself, so it’s not surprising that she has celebrity friends. But how does the former actress know tennis superstar Serena Williams, who attended her wedding to Prince Harry? According to reports, the BFFs met at a celebrity flag football game. “We hit it off immediately,” Markle wrote on her now-defunct website, The Tig. “She quickly became a confidante I would text when I was travelling, the friend I would rally around for her tennis matches, and the down-to-earth chick I was able to grab lunch with.” How sweet!
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Angelina Jolie and Duchess Camilla
Talk about an unexpected duo! They seem like opposites, but the glamourous actress and the buttoned-up Brit bonded over a common cause: raising awareness of sexual violence. Humanitarian Jolie was in London a few years ago to give a talk at a global summit on the issue when she later met up with Camilla, who has also drawn attention to the cause in Britain and around the Commonwealth. The actress, who is an honourary British dame and has recently been in England, has also joined forces with the Queen on a conservation project.
Camilla and Sarah Ferguson
Although Sarah was super close with Diana, she was ironically also friends with Diana’s rival for Charles’ affections, Camilla. “Camilla is fabulous,” Sarah told Harper’s Bazaar. “I’ve known her my entire life because she and my mother were always best friends, and she was so nice to me. I love her.” Camilla is reportedly supporting Sarah’s return to royal circles in anticipation of Sarah’s daughter Princess Eugenie’s royal wedding later this year.
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Will.i.am and Prince Andrew
American musician Will.i.am, who’s also a judge on The Voice UK, has gotten tight with the York branch of the royal family. He first teamed up with Prince Andrew on a music charity, Inspired Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA), which helps young people developing digital businesses. The Prince told CNBC he met the rapper through his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. The connection is even funnier because Will.i.am’s Black Eyed Peas bandmate, Fergie, whose real name is Stacy Ferguson, took her nickname from the royal Fergie—and even named her solo album The Dutchess. Of his first meeting with Sarah, Will.i.am says, “She was like, ‘Hello, Will.i.am, I don’t know if you know me but I am the original Fergie.’” Recently, when Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie couldn’t make their upcoming reunion tour, he joked to The Sun, “I was gonna call Princess Beatrice and take her mom’s offer up—we’re going to bring the Duchess in. I’m sure nobody will notice.”
Rihanna and Prince Harry
The singer met the prince in 2016 when both were visiting her native Barbados to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence. Rihanna and Prince Harry enjoyed a concert together, and then the next day underwent HIV tests live on camera to promote World AIDS Day. Internet “shippers” wanted the couple to start a relationship, but it seems the two did not remain close. When asked earlier this year if she would be attending his wedding to Meghan Markle, she replied, “Why would I be invited?” Ouch!
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Prince Harry and the Obamas
Prince Harry and Barack Obama first connected over the Invictus Games, a competition for wounded veterans that Harry founded. The buds, along with Michelle Obama and the Queen, posted a hilarious video jokingly challenging each other to “bring it” at the games. And the prince has maintained his bromance with the former U.S. president since he left office. Last December, Harry interviewed Obama on BBC Radio 4, asking both serious and not-so-serious questions, like “The Good Wife or Suits“?
Prince Charles and Joan Rivers
Who would have thought that the seemingly uptight prince and the brash comedian would have struck up a friendship? But the prince actually has a love for comedic acting, even performing himself while at Cambridge University, reports People. Rivers was a guest at his wedding to Camilla and performed at a charity comedy gala for his 60th birthday. Charles expressed his deep sadness at her death in 2014. “Joan Rivers was an extraordinary woman with an original and indefatigable spirit, an unstoppable sense of humour and an enormous zest for life,” he and Camilla said in a statement. “She will be hugely missed and utterly irreplaceable.”
James Blunt and Prince Harry
When the “You’re Beautiful” singer showed up at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, the Internet was abuzz. One Twitter user wondered who invited him. “I’ll give you two guesses,” Blunt quipped back. For some reason, people don’t understand how the two became friends—another Twitter user asked who invited Blunt to perform at the 2016 Invictus Games, to which Blunt responded, “Prince Harry. By text. Boom!” In reality, Harry and Blunt bonded because they both served in the same regiment in the British Army.
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Princess Diana and Elton John
You might know that singer Elton John sang “Candle in the Wind,” his ballad originally about Marilyn Monroe, at Diana’s funeral with revised lyrics about the late princess. But how did the two get to be friends? Elton and Diana first met in 1981 when he played at Prince Andrew’s birthday party. They became close but later had a falling out. Thankfully, they reconciled before her death—and ironically, Diana comforted Elton at the funeral of his friend, fashion designer Gianni Versace, just a month before her own. “Playing at [Diana’s] funeral was one of the most surreal things I have ever done,” Elton said in an interview. “What was going through my mind was ‘Don’t sing a wrong note. Be stoic. Don’t break down and just do it to the best you can possibly do it without showing any emotion whatsoever.’”
Queen Elizabeth and Billy Graham
If you watch the Netflix series The Crown, you may know that the Queen became friends with the Reverend Billy Graham, who died recently at the age of 99—and that storyline was based in fact. As head of the Church of England, the Queen is deeply religious and bonded with Graham over her faith. Their friendship lasted for decades. “No one in Britain has been more cordial toward us than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Billy Graham wrote in his autobiography, Just As I Am. “Almost every occasion I have been with her has been in a warm, informal setting, such as a luncheon or dinner, either alone or with a few family members or other close friends.”
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Queen Victoria and Abdul
The modern royals aren’t the only ones to have surprising—and sometimes shocking—friendships. A century and a half ago, Abdul Karim arrived from India to be a servant to the aging and lonely Queen Victoria. He became a trusted advisor, teacher (or munshi) and confidant to the monarch, much to the dismay of the royal household. The relationship lasted until her death in 1901 when her children had him sent back to India and their letters destroyed. But, Karim’s long-lost diary was recently rediscovered by author Shrabani Basu, who penned a book, Victoria and Abdul, that was just made into a movie starring Judi Dench.
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Originally published as 14 Unlikely Royal Friendships That Will Surprise You on ReadersDigest.com.