16 Shocking Facts About Dollar Princesses, the American Girls Who were Sold Into Royalty

Consuelo Vanderbilt on her wedding day in 1910. Persephone Books/ Wikimedia Commons.

15. A Mutually Beneficial Practice Helped Fix Both Problems

America’s nouveau rich were not accepted by the old rich, who felt that they were trashy and eroding the bedrock of American society. The solution, of course, was for the nouveau rich to have their daughters marry into British nobility and gain titles for themselves, enabling them to enter the most exclusive circles ever. They would then become grounded in the wealth of the old world instead of trying to prove themselves to the old rich of America. Their daughters would become noblewomen and inherit a legacy that they would be able to pass on to their children, some of whom would become royalty.

On the other side of the Atlantic, British aristocrats were keen to have their fortunes restored without having to work. They were more than willing to accept enormous dowries in exchange for marrying the daughters of America’s super-wealthy nouveau rich. An entire matchmaking industry ensued, with people on both sides of the Atlantic trying to arrange marriages between the daughters of the nouveau rich and the near-broke noblemen of England. The practice proved to be extremely lucrative (though many would come to see it as morally bankrupt and a form of slavery) for both of the families involved in the marriage contract.