Jordan fetes wedding of crown prince at garden party
AMMAN (AFP) - Hundreds of guests, including several European royals, attended a garden party reception to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Hamza bin Hussein to a distant cousin, Princess Noor.
The 24-year-old heir to the throne is the half-brother of King Abdullah II and the son of the late King Hussein and Queen Noor, formerly Lisa Halabi, an American of Lebanese origin.
Princess Noor is the daughter of Prince Assem bin Nayef, a cousin of King Hussein.
The couple who were engaged and signed their wedding contract at a family ceremony in August set off at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) -- an hour later than had been announced -- in a motorcade from the Raghadan court complex.
The drove to the Zahran Palace in west Amman, the same spot where the prince's father and mother tied the knot in 1978, in a cream-coloured open-topped 1961 Lincoln Continental preceded by motorcycles and palace military vehicles.
State television aired the event live.
The car which has been traditionally used in ceremonial functions, including the weddings of King Abdullah and King Hussein, was taken out of the Royal Car Museum to make the 10-kilometer (six miles) route.
But unlike most royals, Prime Hamza and his 22-year-old bride did not tour the streets of Amman as both decided against a pretentious wedding with fanfare.
"The crown prince is not in a very festive mood because of the situations in (neighbouring) Iraq (news - web sites) and Palestine, so this will be a formal affair to meet his guests, both Jordanian and foreigners," a court official told AFP.
Hundreds of well wishers lined roads and bridges waving at the royal couple, applauding and throwing fistfuls of rose petals at their car. Women wearing traditional embroidered bedouin dresses ullulated.
Prince Hamza, a captain in the Jordanian army, was in military uniform, his head covered in the traditional bedouin white-and-red chequered keffieh, while Princess Noor wore a white lace dress and a white lace mantila covered her head.
Meanwhile hundreds of guests, 2,500 according to officials, gathered on the manicured lawns of the Zahran Palace, the former residence of King Hussein's late mother Queen Zein.
Security was reinforced around the white-stone palace in a residential area of west Amman, home to several embassies and ambassadorial residences.
But traffic flowed normally on the flag-decked Zahran Avenue, which cuts Amman from south to north, until a few hours before the start of the reception.
Inside the grounds of the palace the guests included royals from Sweden, Norway, Britain, Spain, Belgium, Brunei as well as princes from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Arab monarchies.
A wooden platform was built atop an arabesque water fountain to accommodate a simple round table covered in white satin on which was set a simple three-tier white wedding cake surrounded by a green wreath.
But before cutting the cake Prince Hamza and Princess Noor, flanked by King Abdullah and Queen Rania, received congratulations in a reception room inside the Zahran Palace.
Among those seen on television shaking hands with the royal couple were Spain's Queen Sophia, Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and his new bride, Letizia Ortiz; the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and his son, Crown Prince Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah.
Guests also included Britain's Prince Andrew, Norway's Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia, and the widow of the late Shah of Iran, Farah Diba.
On Friday the couple plans a "private dinner" at the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.
Prince Hamza is the 43rd direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. King Abdullah officially named him crown prince on February 7, 1999, on the death of their father.
Like all other members of the Jordanian royal family he attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in Britain, graduating in 1999 as a commissioned officer in the Jordan Arab Army.
He is now a captain and has served with the Jordan-United Arab Emirats force operating in former Yugoslavia under the umbrella of international peacekeepers.
Prince Hamza is following undergraduate studies at a US university.