12-years-ago, Ariana Austin met Joel Makonnen in popular Washington D.C nightclub Pearl but Ariana was completely oblivious to his royal status. Austin recalled that the pair’s meeting was “”days before my 22nd birthday” and despite hitting it off in the club, she insisted that they never would have believed they found their life partner, explaining, “We were just so young; that’s the thing.”
However, the same could not be said for Makonnen. He recalled, “within five minutes, I said, ‘You’ll be my girlfriend.'” He continued in adding,”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.” Makonnen’s friends decided to give him the extra push and revealed all to Austin.
The Prince said, “We were with some friends … and one of my friends brought it up and said, ‘You know, you’re lucky. Your boyfriend is a prince! And I always kind of like had my own way to introduce it, but he just put it out there and I kind of laughed it off.” In an instant, Austin was in disbelief and turned to Joel, asking “‘What? Is he serious? What does he mean?'” At this point, the friend responded “I am serious. He’s the great-grandson of Haile Selassie.”
Unlike many people who would ask numerous questions about his life an upbringing, Austin stayed calm and collected and took the news in her stride. Makonnen said, “She kind of got it right away in the most respectful sense, where she was like, ‘Wow don’t shrug. It’s a big deal. I’m really impressed and it’s amazing.'”
In September, Austin and Makonnen tied the knot in front of 300 guests in a ceremony held in Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Maryland. The two are looking to live a normal a life as possible and Austin said she was looking forward to her new role and status.
She added,”It feels pretty weighty but I’m excited, 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.”