The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

The History Project - The Elkins-Abruzzi Affair: A West Virginia Daughter's Dalliance with European Royalty


Meghan Markle’s marriage to England’s Prince Harry was an education for Americans about how a foreign commoner—though a popular television actress—is embraced into an old European monarchy.  But before Meghan became a Duchess and even before Wallis Simpson tempted a king from the throne, there was the affair between Katherine “Kitty” Elkins, daughter of West Virginia’s Senator Stephen Benton Elkins, and the Duke of Abruzzi, heir to the throne of Italy. The world’s newspapers were agog as the two carried out a long, tempestuous affair that asked the question, “Will they marry?” and answered the question, “How do royal families react when one of their own dates a commoner, even one who is a daughter and granddaughter of U.S. Senators?”​