From supermodel to Princess Salwa Aga Khan: Kendra married a millionaire prince – but hasn’t given up the day job!
- Kendra Spears, 25, and Prince Rahim married last September
- Married in traditional Muslim ceremony at Bellerive Castle in Geneva
- Her title is now Princess Salwa Aga Khan
- Pair reportedly introduced by Naomi Campbell
- Was scouted online model agency
- Best known for participation in Ford Supermodel Of The World 2008
- Current face of Armani Code and Moschino Pink Bouquet Fragrance
The Duchess of Cambridge’s rise from commoner to world-famous Royal has been well documented but there’s an intriguing new Princess on the block.
American supermodel Kendra Spears, who is married to Prince Rahim Aga Khan, has a fairy-tale story to rival that of the former Kate Middleton.
So what’s the story of the Seattle college student-turned-Princess Salwa, who was pictured this week on a modelling shoot in Miami’s South Beach?
WHO ID THE AGA KHAN?
Although styled ‘Prince’ or ‘Princess’, the Aga Khan is actually a religious leader and the imam of a Shi’a sect known as Imami Ismā’īlī Tariqah or Nizari Ismailism.
Currently held by Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan IV, the title has been used since 1818 and was first bestowed by Persian (now Iran) ruler Fath-Ali Shah Qajar on Hasan Ali Shah, the 46th Iman of the Nizari Ismailis.
Like the role of Imam to the Nizari Ismailis, the title is passed from father to son through a family which is are claimed to be directly descended from the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali.
The current Aga Khan is Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan (IV), a British business magnate and racehorse breeder, who took the title at 20 after the death of his grandfather Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III.
He is considered one of the world’s wealthiest people with a fortune in excess of $800m, part of which comes from a tithe paid by Ismaili Muslims called a ‘dasond’ – the equivalent of 12.5 percent of each person’s gross annual income.
The 25-year-old earned her title when she married Prince Rahim Aga Khan, 42,the eldest son of billionaire racehorse owner, His Highness Aga Khan IV, last September.
Prince Rahim studied in the U.S. at Brown University and the Navarra Business School in Barcelona, Spain, is involved in the poverty reduction efforts of the Aga Khan Development Network.
His father, the Aga Khan, a British national, is the 49th hereditary Imam of Ismaili Shi’as, and is regarded by his followers as a direct bloodline descendent of the prophet Mohamed.
After an engagement of only four months, Kendra and Prince Rahim exchanged vows at the Bellerive Castle in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Seattle-born beauty, who was 24 at the time, wore a stunning ivory sari with gold embroidery to marry her husband in a traditional Muslim ceremony.
The union of Kendra and Prince Rahim, reportedly worth around $800m, was the culmination of a fairytale story for the Seattle-born beauty, who rapidly rose to fame after winning an online modelling contest.
Hailed as the ‘next Cindy Crawford,’ Spears has an impressive modelling resume – in fact, she and Prince Rahim were reportedly introduced by fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell.
But this beauty has brains too: she obtained a B.A. in sociology from the University of Washington.
It was only after graduating that she was discovered via MySpace by Ford Models.
She landed a contract with Ford Models and made her debut at New York Fashion Week in September 2008.
Spears’s career lifted off in 2009, when she appeared on the covers of French ELLE, Chinese Vogue, and Dazed & Confused.
She has also appeared in campaigns for Diane von Furstenberg and Prada and walked for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy, among many others.
In New York, she is signed to super-cool agency NEXT Models, alongside model Anja Rubik and Alexa Chung.
It appears marriage hasn’t put the brakes on her career. Refreshingly, despite her husband’s immense fortune, it seems this independent princess still wants to make her own living.
Most recently, she graced the cover of the February edition of Spanish Vogue and appeared in the Next 2013 winter campaign.
She is also the face of Armani Code Fragrance and Moschino Pink Bouquet Fragrance.
And earlier this week was spotted taking part in a photoshoot on Miami beach.
The 25-year-old model, wearing a hot pink tank top and jean shorts, appeared to be having fun on the shoot, acting more like a giddy teenager than a real-life princess.
The beauty dressed down in denim shorts and a pink vest top, seemed to be as down to earth as they come.
Meteoric rise: Kendra’s career took off in 2008 with appearances at New York Fashion Week
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Kendra: the University of Washington sociology graduate made headlines in 2009 when she was sued for changing model agencies.
After a two-year legal battle, Miss Spears was made to pay Ford Models over £96,000 in royalties after switching to Next.
Ford claimed that the catwalk star was ‘one of the shining stars of the Ford development system’ and had been ‘signed as a prospect while still a teenager in braces.’
Spears on the catwalk for Paul & Joe in Paris (left), and Ermanno Scervino at Milan Fashion Week (right)
Princess-in-the-making: Miss Spears, pictured on the catwalk for Paul & Joe in Paris last year (left), and Ermanno Scervino at Milan Fashion Week (right), thanked well-wishers via Twitter
THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDES OF THE AGA KHAN
Miss Spears has married into a family with a long-established history of beautiful brides.
Her husband’s paternal grandfather was famously married to Rita Hayworth.
Prince Rahim’s British mother, Princess Salimah Aga Khan, was known as supermodel Sarah Croker-Poole before she wed, though she and the Aga Khan divorced in 1995, she continues to be known by her married name.
The Aga Khan, 75, then married German former pop star Gabriele Renate Homey in 1998, after which she took the name Inaara, though they divorced in 2011.
Prince Rahim follows in the footsteps of his younger brother, who also married an American model.
Prince Hussain, 39, wed New York professor’s daughter Kristin White in 2006 in a fairytale ceremony at a 14th century chateau outside of Paris. The bride converted to Islam and adopted the name Khaliya.
The marriage appears to have been short-lived though as it was reported in 2011 that the pair – who have no children – had split.
The Aga Khan’s daughter, Princess Zahra, 43, also had a failed marriage.
She married British male model and farmer’s son Mark Boyden in 1997 – and had two children, daughter Sara, and son Iliyan with him – but they divorced in 2005.