Jordan crown prince weds in lavish ceremony
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Jordan crown prince weds in lavish ceremony

Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein and his Saudi wife Rajwa Al Seif wave as they leave the Zahran Palace in Amman
Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein and his Saudi wife Rajwa Al Seif wave as they leave the Zahran Palace in Amman

AMMAN - Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah married Saudi architect Rajwa Al Saif on Thursday in a wedding attended by royals from across the globe.

The ceremony took place in the mid-century Zahran Palace in the capital Amman -- the scene of other key Hashemite kingdom weddings including that of King Abdullah II to Queen Rania and also that of the monarch's father, the late King Hussein bin Talal.

The king's eldest son and Al Saif, both aged 28, tied the knot at a ceremony attended by their families and 140 guests, including US First Lady Jill Biden and Britain's Prince and Princess of Wales, who made a surprise appearance.

King Abdullah II, aged 61 and on the throne since 1999, has long groomed his eldest son to succeed him, bringing him on important visits and to meetings, former information minister Samih Maaytah previously told AFP.

Prince Hussein became heir to the throne in 2009 after his father removed the title from his half brother Hamzah in 2004.

Hamzah would later be placed under house arrest after being accused of attempting to stage a royal coup in 2021 that sent shock waves through the royal establishment.

That year Bassem Awadallah, an adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was convicted of conspiring to topple King Abdullah II.

In April 2022, Hamzah renounced his royal title, saying that his own values no longer aligned with those of "our institutions".

The newly titled Princess Rajwa was born in Riyadh. She descends from the Al Sudayri family of Najd in what became modern day Saudi Arabia, known to be closely linked to the Saudi royal family.

- Wedding motorcade -

Other notable guests on Thursday included the Netherlands' King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, as well as Belgium's King Philippe and Crown Princess Elisabeth and Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary.

The highly anticipated nuptials were met by celebrations across Jordan, with thousands gathering to witness the procession in Amman in streets decorated for the occasion with pictures of the couple and banners.

A royal red motorcade, reserved for special occasions, crossed the capital from Zahran Palace in the centre to Husseiniya Palace in the west.

"We are certainly very happy with the crown prince's wedding. This is the joy of all of Jordan," said Sawsan Rifaia, 26, clad in a white shirt with a picture of the newly weds and a red Jordanian keffiyeh wrapped over her white headscarf.

Jordan enjoys relative stability compared to its Middle East neighbours, but has seen protests in recent years as it struggles with economic woes.

The World Bank says Jordan is heavily in debt and faces around 23 percent unemployment.

The country relies extensively on foreign aid.

The Jordanian king has wide-ranging political powers in a nation of 11 million people, a parliamentary monarchy, and he is also supreme leader of the armed forces.

Hussein followed in his father's footsteps by attending Britain's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and then studied history at Washington's Georgetown University.

His bride was born and raised in conservative Saudi Arabia but is also Western-educated, having studied architecture at Syracuse University in New York.

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