See inside lavish life of woman who married Ethiopian prince – including elite parties and

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An American woman who married an Ethiopian prince after meeting in a Washington, D.C. nightclub is now offering a sneak peek into her lavish life style – which includes attending elite parties and going on extravagant trips – despite her insisting she doesn’t want to be called a princess

Ariana Austin and Prince Joel Makonnen’s love story seems like it’s straight out of a Lifetime movie.

Ariana, now 38, met Joel – an Ethiopian prince, now 39 – at a nightclub in Washington, D.C. back in 2005, after he attempted to hit on her using a cheesy pickup line.

At the time, she had no idea that Joel – a great-grandson of Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia – was a royal.

Eventually, after months of dating, she found out after one of his friends spilled the beans – but it didn’t defer her.

After 12 years of dating, the two wed in September 2017. Now, the pair are living together in Washington, D.C. and they spend their time traveling the world, staying in luxury hotels, and partying with other royals.

But Ariana said she doesn’t like to call herself a princess since the title ‘wasn’t given to her by the Ethiopian people.’

An American woman who married an Ethiopian prince after meeting in a Washington, D.C. nightclub is now flaunting her lavish life style despite her insisting she doesn't want to be called a princess. They are pictured together in 2018

An American woman who married an Ethiopian prince after meeting in a Washington, D.C. nightclub is now flaunting her lavish life style despite her insisting she doesn’t want to be called a princess. They are pictured together in 2018

When they met, Ariana Austin, 38, had no idea Joel Makonnen , 39, - great-grandson of Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia - was royal. She later found out after one of his friends spilled the beans. They are pictured in Miami in September

When they met, Ariana Austin, 38, had no idea Joel Makonnen , 39, – great-grandson of Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia – was royal. She later found out after one of his friends spilled the beans. They are pictured in Miami in September

Now, the pair are living together in Washington, D.C. and they spend their time attending glamorous parties, going on extravagant trips, traveling the world, and staying in luxury hotels. Ariana is pictured in Los Angeles, California, in April 2021

Now, the pair are living together in Washington, D.C. and they spend their time attending glamorous parties, going on extravagant trips, traveling the world, and staying in luxury hotels. Ariana is pictured in Los Angeles, California, in April 2021

But Ariana - pictured with Joel in Jamaica in 2018 - said she doesn't like to call herself a princess since the title 'wasn't given to her by the Ethiopian people'

But Ariana – pictured with Joel in Jamaica in 2018 – said she doesn’t like to call herself a princess since the title ‘wasn’t given to her by the Ethiopian people’

'If it's just me independent of him, I don't feel as comfortable with it, and don't feel like it was given to me by the Ethiopian people to use [like] that,' she explained during a recent interview. She is pictured in Jamaica in 2018

‘If it’s just me independent of him, I don’t feel as comfortable with it, and don’t feel like it was given to me by the Ethiopian people to use [like] that,’ she explained during a recent interview. She is pictured in Jamaica in 2018

‘If it’s just me independent of him, I don’t feel as comfortable with it, and don’t feel like it was given to me by the Ethiopian people to use [like] that,’ she explained to Insider during a recent interview.

Ariana grew up in Washington, D.C. and was born into a family of professors, philanthropists, and politicians. 

His Imperial Highness Prince Joel was born in Rome in 1982 while his parents, Prince David and Princess Adey Imru, were in exile from Ethiopia.

He grew up in Switzerland, keeping ‘a low profile’ throughout his childhood.

‘It was our instinct not to broadcast [that we were royals] … to start a new life and to carry on,’ he explained.

In 2005, he was studying at the American University in Washington, D.C., when he met his future-wife on the dance floor in the nightclub Pearl – after he approached her and a friend and told them they looked like models.

‘I said, “You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,” or whatever the gin was,’ he recalled to New York Times in a 2017 interview.

Prince Joel, who was 23 at the time, instantly felt a connection with Ariana, who was 21 at the time, but she wasn’t so sure their relationship would last.

‘We were just so young; that’s the thing,’ she told ABC News in 2017 while discussing the night they met.

‘Within five minutes, I said, “You’ll be my girlfriend,”‘ added Joel.

‘It was more like an assertive question. I just had a really good chemistry with her right away. I felt like I already knew her.’ 

Ariana - pictured in 2021 - grew up in Washington, D.C. and was born into a family of professors, philanthropists, and politicians

 Ariana – pictured in 2021 – grew up in Washington, D.C. and was born into a family of professors, philanthropists, and politicians

In 2005, Joel was studying at the American University in Washington, D.C., when he met his future-wife on the dance floor in a nightclub - after he approached her and a friend and told them they looked like models. Ariana is Pictured in Ethiopia in 2017

In 2005, Joel was studying at the American University in Washington, D.C., when he met his future-wife on the dance floor in a nightclub – after he approached her and a friend and told them they looked like models. Ariana is Pictured in Ethiopia in 2017

Soon into their relationship, Ariana found out about Joel's royal title after a friend let it slip. She is pictured in Spain in 2015

Soon into their relationship, Ariana found out about Joel’s royal title after a friend let it slip. She is pictured in Spain in 2015

As for how she reacted, he explained that she took it with a 'sense of seriousness,' which was different from what he'd seen in the past. The couple is pictured at the Meridian Ball in 2019

As for how she reacted, he explained that she took it with a ‘sense of seriousness,’ which was different from what he’d seen in the past. The couple is pictured at the Meridian Ball in 2019

After 12 years of dating, the two wed in September 2017 in front of around 300 friends and family members inside Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Maryland. They are pictured at the wedding

After 12 years of dating, the two wed in September 2017 in front of around 300 friends and family members inside Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Maryland. They are pictured at the wedding

Soon into their relationship, Ariana found out about Joel’s royal title after a friend let it slip.

After the wedding, Ariana told ABC that she was 'happy' and 'excited' to join the Ethiopian monarchy, but admitted she was a little nervous over the 'weight' of her new title

After the wedding, Ariana told ABC that she was ‘happy’ and ‘excited’ to join the Ethiopian monarchy, but admitted she was a little nervous over the ‘weight’ of her new title

‘I didn’t tell her directly,’ said Joel to Insider. ‘It was actually one of my friends, he was teasing her and saying, “You’re so lucky, you have a great boyfriend, and he’s a prince.”‘

As for how she reacted, he explained that she took it with a ‘sense of seriousness,’ which was different from what he’d seen in the past. 

The Prince added: ‘I’ve had all types of reactions. First, it’s like, “I don’t believe you.” Or, it’s like, “OK, where’s your limousine? Where’s your butler? Where’s your palace?” And I say, “Well, all of that is in my home country.”‘

He also told ABC, ‘I always kind of like had my own way to introduce it, but [my friend] just put it out there and I kind of laughed it off.

‘But then she turned to me and said, ‘What? Is he serious? What does he mean? She kind of got it right away in the most respectful sense.

‘She was like, “Wow don’t shrug. It’s a big deal. I’m really impressed and it’s amazing.” 

Ariana told the outlet she was ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the news, but ‘didn’t know the full scale of what it meant for them then.’ 

After the pair began dating, Ariana admitted that their relationship wasn’t her first priority.

Ariana often flaunts their exciting lifestyle on her Instagram account, which often involves celebrating with other royals at elite parties. She is pictured at the Meridian Ball in 2019

Ariana often flaunts their exciting lifestyle on her Instagram account, which often involves celebrating with other royals at elite parties. She is pictured at the Meridian Ball in 2019

The pair (pictured at the Arena Stage Gala in 2019) enjoys a life of luxury now - often getting invited to star-studded events and parties

The pair (pictured at the Arena Stage Gala in 2019) enjoys a life of luxury now – often getting invited to star-studded events and parties

The two settled down in the Washington, D.C. area, where Joel works in the legal department of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical. Ariana has a job at the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. She is pictured in 2019

The two settled down in the Washington, D.C. area, where Joel works in the legal department of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical. Ariana has a job at the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. She is pictured in 2019

Together, the couple (pictured at their wedding) created a media entertainment company called Old World/New World, which is 'committed to storytelling focused on powerful Black stories that inspire global audiences'

Together, the couple (pictured at their wedding) created a media entertainment company called Old World/New World, which is ‘committed to storytelling focused on powerful Black stories that inspire global audiences’

‘I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny, but I felt like I had things that I had to do,’ she explained to the Times, adding that she fell for his ‘worldliness.’

‘He talked about weighty things as a young man. He mentioned the revolution. Things that sound heavy for someone who was 23.’

For years, they stayed together while both pursuing their own careers, and in 2014 – after Ariana had graduated from Harvard University and Joel finished up his law degree at Howard University – Joel asked Ariana to marry him.

‘I think I said, “Let’s take this journey together.” When I proposed she was like, “It’s about time,”‘ recalled Joel.

The lovebirds tied the knot in 2017 in front of around 300 friends and family members inside Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Maryland.

Hours after the ceremony, the pair celebrated with a formal reception at Foxchase Manor in Manassas, Virginia. 

After the wedding, Ariana told ABC that she was ‘happy’ and ‘excited’ to join the Ethiopian monarchy, but admitted she was a little nervous over the ‘weight’ of the title.

‘It feels pretty weighty but I’m excited,’ she admitted. ‘It’s the world’s oldest monarchy and there’s just something pretty powerful about that.

‘Of course I’m happy to be a part of it and I hope I can … be of service and take all this good will and all this good energy and just turn it back and do good work in our countries.’

The globe-trotting pair are often sharing snaps from their travels, and are pictured in Ethiopia in 2019

The globe-trotting pair are often sharing snaps from their travels, and are pictured in Jamaica in 2018

The globe-trotting pair…

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