This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Princess Keisha Omilana of Nigeria. It has been edited for length and clarity.
When I met my husband, Prince Kunle, I was at the peak of my modeling career.
It was the middle of New York Fashion Week in 2004, and all the models were going on show castings at the time. I was newly single and had just exited a relationship that was not for me. I was happy being single and was enjoying my career — I wasn’t at all looking for a boyfriend.
I was in Union Square, looking for an address for an audition that I was meant to be on. I didn’t know this at the time, but the casting director had given the wrong address. So I’m standing there, calling my agency, and I felt someone’s presence. I felt someone staring at me.
I see Kunle standing there, and I’m thinking, “Do I know this person?”
I didn’t think that he would wait around for me to get off the phone, but he did.
He came up to me and said: “You are the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Would you do me the honor of having your number? Because I’d love to take you out.”
Honestly, I was thinking, “Who talks like that?” I made up a line that I had a boyfriend so that I couldn’t give him my number, and I turned to walk away. But as I was about to go for my audition, my women’s intuition said: “You know what? He was kind. He wasn’t rude. He was tall, dark, and handsome. You should just give him your number.”
So I ran back up the steps, and he was still there, phone in hand, smiling as if he knew I would come back.
We dated for 2 years before I learned that Kunle was a prince
We dated for two years, and I did not know he was royal. I knew that he was Nigerian and that he previously lived in London, but I had no idea about his background.
In Nigerian culture, when you are serious about someone, that’s when you introduce them to your family. I remember going to a family wedding and his mom coming out with open arms. It was almost like she knew me already.
She kept calling me “my princess.” I was thinking it was a term of endearment, since a lot of moms call their daughters princesses. That’s when I discovered he was a royal. She started telling me the history of the kings, his name and its meaning, and where he was from.
Kunle is a crown prince from the Arugbabuwo ruling house. Unlike the British royals, where there’s one family and lots of royals within that family, in Nigeria there are many tribes and many royal families within those tribes. Not all of those tribes have a crown prince — the crown prince is the chosen one who is going to rule at a certain age.
I remember thinking, “We’ve been together for two years, and he just left that detail out?”
It was a nice thing to know, but it didn’t affect our lifestyle. It would have, if he had chosen to be king in Nigeria. That’s when everything changes and you literally give up life as you know it. We would have to live and remain in Nigeria. We would not hold our own schedules and would not have the luxury of traveling when we want to travel or where we want to travel. It would no longer be acceptable for me to call Prince Kunle “my baby,” “my honey,” or any other name apart from King Omilana. We would also not have the freedom to be together every day and in every way like we are now.
He made it very clear to me that while this is his bloodline and this is who he is, it’s not how he lives his life when he’s not in Nigeria.