Long live the king.

Author:Shahin, Mariam
Position:Abdullah, King Hussein's eldest son, ascends the throne as king of Jordan

Less than 24 hours before the public announcement was made, Prince Abdullah of Jordan was told by his ailing father he was to be the next King of Jordan.

For Abdullah, the news came as a surprise. Not since he was three years old had he been considered a serious candidate for succession. However, as fate would have it, the prince, who turned 37 just a day after his appointment as crown prince and heir, is now King.

Born in January 1962 to an English mother, Toni Gardiner, the daughter of a British military man - and King Hussein - Abdullah is the eldest of four children of the union, which lasted 11 years.

At his birth, he was named crown prince, in line with the tradition, which passes down titles and kingdoms from father to son. But because of the precarious political conditions in Jordan at the time, King Hussein chose his brother Hassan as next in line to the throne in the belief that Jordan needed an adult to rule should anything happen to him.

In 1972 King Hussein married his third wife, Alia Toukan. She was of Palestinian origin and the Jordanians, almost all of whom have blood ties to Palestine, were thrilled. Before her death in a helicopter accident in 1977 she gave birth to a daughter, Haya, and then a son, Ali. From the day of his birth, Prince Ali, now 24, was considered the most popular contender to follow in his father's footsteps. Born to a woman the population related strongly to in life and idealised after her death, Ali was ultimately found unfit to lead by his father. But even after the young Prince Ali was out of the running, Abdullah was not the favourite.

Queen Noor, who the late King Hussein married in 1978, gave birth to two boys, Hamze 19, and Hashem 17. From the day he was born Hamze was groomed by his mother to be a leader. Many people thought that the designated heir, Hassan, would become king and appoint Hamze as crown prince.

As Abdullah grew up he was thus not burdened with the prospect of becoming king. A good sportsman who liked to party, his waywardness sometimes annoyed his father, who reportedly shunned him in the late 1980s for about two years. But the prince pulled his socks up and began his military career in earnest, regaining his father's confidence by the early 1990s. His marriage in 1993 to Rania Yassin, a Kuwait-born Palestinian, made his father very happy.

Unlike any other royal wedding in Jordan since his father's marriage to his mother, Prince Abdullah was driven through the streets of Amman...

To continue reading