On This Day: Queen Alia of Jordan Passes Away

  February 9, 2017 at 4:00 am by

Forty years ago today, Her Majesty Queen Alia Al Hussein was killed in a helicopter crash.

She was returning from an inspection trip to Tafileh Hospital in southern Jordan when the helicopter she was travelling in crashed. Among the casualties of the accident were: the Minister of Health, the pilot Badreddin Zaza, a friend of King Hussein, and the military doctor. Despite the bad weather and warnings from King Hussein not to make the visit that day, Queen Alia wanted to see if letters that she had received from patients were true.

After confirming the accident at 17:30, King Hussein announced on television and radio the death of his wife and the start of seven days of mourning across Jordan. Two days later, on February 11, Queen Alia was buried in the land surrounding Hashimiyah Palace, a palace which was designed for the young Queen. Construction had finished only three months before her death. In honor of Queen Alia’s passing, 21 guns were fired at the time in which her body was buried next to a tree that she had planted. Her funeral was attended by, besides the King and family members, the President of Syria, Hafez al-Assad, the German Foreign Minister, Hans Dietrich, Empress Farah of Iran, Queen Sofia of Spain and Jehan Sadat.

Queen Alia, born Alia Baha Uddin Toukan, was born in Cairo, Egypt on December 25th, 1948 where her father was the Ambassador of Jordan. She spent her childhood in Egypt, Turkey, United States, London and Rome. She attended the Church School in London and the Rome Center of Liberal Arts of Loyola. She graduated with a political science minor, with social psychology and public relations at Hunter College in New York.

In 1971, Alia returned to Jordan to work with the Royal Airlines. Then, she was reunited with King Hussein, who met Alia when she was a child during one of his trips to Egypt.

On December 24, 1972 the King and Alia were married at the home of Queen Alia’s parents in Amman. The wedding was a small and private ceremony, only 12 people were present. Alia Toukan, who was the third wife of King Hussein, received the title of Queen after the marriage.

King Hussein and Queen Alia had two children: Princess Haya, born on May 3, 1974, and Prince Ali, born on December 23, 1975. They also adopted a Palestinian girl, Abir Muhaisen, in December 1973. Abir lost her parents that same year when a Soviet plane crashed into their house.

Queen Alia had an active role as Queen Consort and she created the Queen’s office. The late Queen represented Jordanian women at many international conferences, serving as a model for Arab women, supporting Arab women’s causes and their participation in socio-economic development. Her interest in the arts led to the founding of the Haya Cultural Centre for Children and the National Folklore Troupe.

In memory of Queen Alia, her daughter Princess Haya set up Tkiyet Um Ali, the region’s first food-relief NGO which provides assistance to underprivileged families.

NB: A version of this post was published on February 9, 2012.

Filed under Historical Royals, Jordan
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