Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein: His fairytale wedding on the powder keg

The Crown Prince of Jordan, Hussein bin Abdullah, is about to be married. Here’s what you need to know about your family.

Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah (28), the eldest son of Jordan’s King Abdullah II (61), will marry the architect Rajwa Khalid Alseif (29) on June 1, who is related to the Saudi royal family. The celebrations at the Zahran Palace in Amman, the capital of the Kingdom of Jordan, and at the Al Husseiniya Palace are already being hailed as an oriental fairy tale wedding straight out of “One Thousand and One Nights”.

Jordan’s Queen Rania, 52, Hussein’s beautiful mother, tearfully said: “I will never forget how happy His Majesty and I were when Al Hussein told us he wanted to marry Rajwa. She is the perfect answer to all my prayers for him.”

Hussein is considered a direct descendant of Mohammed

After the marriage contract has been signed, the Muslim believers pray the seven verses of Surah Al Fatiha of the Koran. It is the first of a total of 114 suras and means translated: the opening. Islamic theologians assume that it was the prophet and founder of the religion Mohammed (570-632) who had the revelation of this sura.

The reference to the Prophet is particularly significant in this marriage because Hussein is believed to be a 42nd generation direct descendant of Mohammed. The crown prince belongs dynastically to the Hashemites and thus to the high nobility of Islam. The royal family goes back to Hashim ibn Abd Manaf (6th century), the great-grandfather of Mohammed.

The Hashemites ruled the Arabian Peninsula for centuries and were guardians of the sanctuaries in Mecca and Medina. In 1925 they were expelled from the Saudi tribe by the new rulers. Hussein’s ancestors, who had fought alongside Lawrence of Arabia against the Ottoman Empire, took the throne in the caliph city of Baghdad (until 1958) or – another part of the family – moved to the Jordanian desert, where in 1946 the Kingdom of Jordan Founded.

Heir to the throne studied in Washington

In most western media, the monarchy in Amman has the image of an oriental dynasty straight out of a picture book. This is not least due to Hussein’s attractive mother Rania, who is considered the most beautiful queen in the world and is celebrated as the “Diana of the Orient”. The royal family resides in the Raghadan Palace above Amman.

Like his father King Abdullah II, Hussein likes to appear in uniform, he is pro-Western and (like his father and grandfather) received his military training in England (Sandhurst Officers Academy) and studied international history at Georgetown University in Washington DC (USA) Graduated. He is a Captain in the Jordanian Army. His future wife was also educated in the West, she studied at US universities in New York and Los Angeles.

The royal family of Amman does not live in the comfort zones of western royal houses such as in the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, Sweden or Norway. As the future king and successor to his father Abdullah II, Hussein will be the ruler of a country with a constitutional monarchy. The King of Jordan, who also sees himself as the protector of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third most important shrine, is the head of state and supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces of an Arab country of over ten million inhabitants, which is marked by internal and external conflicts.

His grandfather King Hussein I (1935-1999) was assassinated more than 30 times, all of which he survived. Great-great-grandfather King Abdallah I was shot dead by a Palestinian in 1951 in the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The royal family must always expect the worst

Even Hussein’s parents’ glamorous marriage has a serious political background. Mother Rania comes from a Palestinian family. This marriage was intended to appease the Palestinian refugees, who make up more than 50 percent of the local population (7 million), and to pacify Jordan’s internal political tensions. That has been reasonably successful, the reigning royal couple acts as a link between the long-established Jordanians and the Palestinians who have immigrated. There are also millions of refugees from Iraq and Syria.

The royal family of Jordan must always expect the worst. “The ruling family, which is sponsored by the West and works with Israel, has many enemies – including Islamists, other Arab ruling dynasties and, time and again, members of their own family,” wrote the “Spiegel” last spring.

In the murder of Hussein’s great-great-grandfather Abdallah I, whose Arab assassin wanted to prevent a permanent partition of Palestine by Jordan and Israel, the British orientalist Robin Leonard Bidwell also saw a motive in the Jordanian Crown Prince Talal (1909-1972). In order to achieve a unified Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq and Jordan, Abdallah did not want to appoint his son as heir to the throne, but rather the Iraqi King Faisal II, also a relative.

Shortly before his death, Abdallah had said: “I know that I am hated by my own son.” Killing him thwarted that plan. The allegedly mentally ill Talal became king, but was deposed after a year in favor of his only 16-year-old son Hussein.

On a powder keg

Hussein was King of Jordan for almost 47 years until 1999. Two weeks before he died of cancer, he installed his eldest son Abdullah as heir to the throne instead of his brother Hassan ibn Talal, but with the stipulation that Abdullah’s younger half-brother Hamzah (43) would become crown prince instead of Abdullah’s son Hussein. He was the favorite son of King Hussein I and was considered his successor for a long time.

Hamzah was heir to the throne until 2004, when King Abdullah II deposed him. His son Hussein became the new crown prince. Nonetheless, Hamzah, who is particularly popular with the Jordanian Bedouins not only because of his striking resemblance to King Hussein I, pursued his own interests and was outspokenly critical of his half-brother’s government during the Arab Spring (2010-2011).

Two years ago it became known that King Abdullah’s “tightly organized security apparatus” (“Spiegel”) was apparently able to thwart a putsch. One of the masterminds is said to have been Hamzah, who was placed under house arrest. The accusation: “incitement” with the aim of “destabilizing the security of Jordan”. In the spring of 2022, Hamzah publicly renounced the “title of Prince”.

That wasn’t enough for his brother, the king. He also publicly stated that Hamzah shows no remorse and therefore “Prince Hamzah’s communications, whereabouts and freedom of movement” must be restricted. “We will give Hamzah everything he needs to lead a comfortable life, but he will not have the space he once abused to insult the nation, its institutions and his family, or undermine the stability of Jordan.”

This development shows once again that the magical splendor that the Jordanian royal family is once again spreading these days is covering up political reality like a fine mist: you are still sitting on a powder keg.


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