A Real Life 'Coming To America' Story Unfolds As U.S. Woman Becomes A – BOTWC


A Real Life 'Coming To America' Story Unfolds As U.S. Woman Becomes A Princess After Marrying An Ethiopian Prince

A Real Life 'Coming To America' Story Unfolds As U.S. Woman Becomes A Princess After Marrying An Ethiopian Prince

Photo credit: Dotun Ayodeji

Joel Makonnen and Ariana Austin's love story is usually one you would only see in the movies, as a matter of fact, you've probably already seen a movie with a similar story line. Let's start from the beginning. 

12 years ago, Austin met her future husband, Makonnen, on the dance floor at Washington, D.C.'s Pearl nightclub. Or should we say Prince Makonnen, the great-grandson of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. However, Austin had no idea about Makonnen's royal lineage, as he didn't disclose it until they were in a serious relationship.

According to the New York Times, "He was born in Rome while his parents, Prince David Makonnen and Princess Adey Imru Makonnen, were living in exile from Ethiopia. He grew up in Switzerland."

Turns out, Makonnen's family history traces back to Biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. 

"It's unbeatable heritage and history," Austin said. "It combines sheer Black power and ancient Christian tradition."

Photo credit: Jared Soares/The New York Times

After meeting Austin, Makonnen recalled: "Not even five minutes later I said, 'You're going to be my girlfriend.'"

Over the last decade, the couple endured a long distance relationship as they both pursued their educational and career goals. Austin received her master's degree in arts education from Harvard University and now works in philanthropy at the Executives' Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. While Makonnen earned his law degree from Howard, going on to work in the legal department of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical. 

"I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny. But I felt like I had things that I had to do," Austin said. 

Photo credit: Dotun Ayodeji

It was destiny indeed as Austin became Makonnen's queen, or in this case, princess to be when he proposed on Valentine's Day of 2014. The couple (even more so royal because Austin is the granddaughter of a lord mayor of Georgetown, Guyana) wed on September 9, 2017 at Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Marlow Heights, Maryland with 307 guests, including over 13 priests and clergymen to officiate the ceremony. 

Photo credit: Dotun Ayodeji

If you haven't guessed by now which movie we were referring to earlier, it's the classic 1988 film, "Coming to America", where Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley) of Queens, New York met and wed Prince Akeem of Zamunda (Eddie Murphy), who struggled to reveal his royal identity while trying to find a woman that would love him despite his title. 

Talk about a real life fairytale! Congratulations to Prince and Princess Makonnen! 

Photo credit: Dotun Ayodeji