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maryshawn 12-14-2004 09:57 PM

King Hussein: Articles, Interviews & Speeches
 
I came across this article and hope you will enjoy its insights as much as I did. I thought it touching and also insightful at end when he mulls over succession--saying he's "not sure he would wish it on any of his sons."

FEBRUARY 19 - 25, 1999

The King and I
Lasting impressions from an audience with Jordanís Hussein
by Celeste Fremon

The king in his prime: Hussein in 1982
(Photo: AP/Wide World)

In February of 1978, almost exactly 21 years ago, I went to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with the notion of meeting with the king. It was a heady time in the Middle East. Anwar Sadat had just made his historic trip to Jerusalem, and the rest of the Arab world was furious. Print and electronic press from all over the world were camped in Amman, hoping to ask Hussein, the moderate, for his opinion.

Iíd been in Egypt to interview Sadatís wife for an American news syndicate and figured that, as long as I was in the neighborhood, Iíd try to get Hussein on tape as well. Never mind that he was refusing almost all interview requests. I was young and full of naive confidence.

Besides, Iíd worked out a trick. In my last meeting with Jehan Sadat, I told her I was planning to see Hussein. (I didnít mention that he had no plans to see me.) Was there anything, I inquired, that sheíd like me to ask him? Mme. Sadat graciously took the bait and gave me the same question that was on everybody elseís mind: Why hadnít he gone with her husband to Israel? Not exactly an earth-shattering inquiry, but it gave me a tool.

Amman was crowded with businessmen normally head-quartered in Beirut who moved operations temporarily to Jordan whenever fighting in Lebanon made commerce impossible. Clumps of them littered the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel, tying up every available international phone line. I checked in and made my way to the closest Palace press office, which happened to be located in the hotel. There I informed Ahmed, a first-tier, flak-catcher press officer with an ingratiating, gold-toothed smile, that I wished to interview the king. Ahmed looked bored. I told him about the Mme. Sadat question; he blinked, picked up a nearby phone and dialed the Palace.

In the next hour I received calls from a succession of court officials, each higher on the food chain than the next. Finally I was told where to show up for a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Hekmat, a European-looking fellow in a Saint Laurent suit who, it seems, was the Jordanian equivalent of Sidney Blumenthal. "I just met with Jehan Sadat, and she gave me a question to ask His Majesty," I told Mr. Hekmat. "Itís not a terribly important question," I assured him honestly, "but Iíd like an opportunity to ask him if this is at all possible."

He cajoled me suavely to tell him the question, so that he might ask His Majesty and get back to me. "Oh no," I said. "Itís very important that I ask the king myself. I want him to answer the question spontaneously." Hekmat persisted. "Iím sure the king would still be very spontaneous when you ask him again. Very spontaneous." I held my ground. I must ask His Majesty in person or not at all, I said.

Astonishingly, it worked. A crew from German television had been languishing in the capital city for weeks without so much as a glimpse of Hussein. Yet, within an hour after leaving Mr. Hekmat, I received word that an audience had been arranged.

King Hussein was waiting in one of the large, frugally decorated offices he kept at the limestone royal court building. I extended my hand, hoping that a handshake was not some horrific violation of royal protocol, and was relieved when the king reached back. However, instead of shaking my hand, he kissed it gallantly, then motioned me to one of the big, soft easy chairs in the corner of the room. Then, at a glance from the king, Mr. Hekmat nodded and withdrew.

The only person who did not seem beside himself with curiosity about my now-infamous question was King Hussein himself. I asked it. He answered it. ("When President Sadat took his initiative, he didnít ask us for our opinion. It seemed that he was willing to take all the responsibility himself . . .") After that, he was content to submit to most any question I had, as if these minutes with me offered a welcome respite from an otherwise troublesome week.

maryshawn 12-14-2004 10:19 PM

The King and I
Lasting impressions from an audience with Jordanís Hussein - PART 2

First Meeting

It should be noted here that Hussein was, at the time, between wives. Alya, his third wife, a stunning Palestinian woman with dark-blond hair, had been killed the February before in a helicopter accident. And he was still a few months away from his first date with Queen Noor, nťe Lisa Halaby. When I met him, the king was a very lonely guy.

Perhaps thatís why, although he responded to my political inquiries with predictable caution, whenever the conversation veered back to the personal he was relaxed and happy to chat. He said he didnít expect to fall in love again. "I feel Iím so full of scars and ó Iím getting on in life. I feel I wouldnít like to burden anyone with me and my problems, after all that has happened. These 42 very full years sometimes seem like many more than 42." He sighed. "Although I feel the gap there very much indeed."

At one point, I asked who knew him best. "No one," he replied. "People know various sides of me. But with the big problems, big decisions, one canít show weakness. One canít share oneís inner feelings as a human being. I was able to do that with Alya, but behind her, it hasnít been possible. People donít really want you to be human. It worries them."

Hekmat had told me I could have 20 minutes at most with the king. Yet, after more than an hour of talking, I was the one to bring the interview to a close. On my way out the door, I asked one last question. "If I wanted to see the real you, Your Majesty," I asked him, "how would I do so?"

"Well," he said, "I suppose I am truly myself flying my plane. And when Iím out in the villages with ordinary people. Let me think about it. I will arrange something." By the time I reached the Intercontinental there was a message waiting. I was invited to dinner at the Palace the following Monday. I actually skipped around my hotel room. "Iím going to dinner with the king!" I sang ridiculously. I couldnít believe my good luck.

maryshawn 12-14-2004 10:21 PM

The King and I
Lasting impressions from an audience with Jordanís Hussein - PART 3

Dinner at the Palace

On the days in between, I wandered around Amman and down to the Dead Sea, talking to ordinary Jordanians about the man with his face on the money. I noticed that most had multiple pictures of Hussein on the walls of their homes and offices. And these were not just official photos, but snapshots and posters like teenagers might put up of a favorite movie star. Given a modicum of encouragement, everyone was willing to whisper some sworn-to-be-true bit of gossip about His Majesty, about the newest plots against him, the affairs heíd had with this woman or that. Each Jordanian I encountered, even those who were critical of him, talked about the king as if he were more than mortal.

The Palace was about 10 miles outside of Amman. A taciturn Jordanian army sergeant fetched me from the hotel in a dark Mercedes, and we drove in total silence past two separate sets of guarded iron gates, each bearing the unmistakable gold crown. The kingís residence was a two-story modern stone structure the color of sand, its architecture a hybrid of desert-fortress Bauhaus and í70s Southern California ranch-style, the kind of house that Rod Stewart or some other rock star of the era might lease when recording in Los Angeles.

When I arrived, the king was in the upstairs living quarters dressed in a short-sleeved plaid shirt and casual slacks, losing a game of Ping-Pong to his childrenís American nanny. When he greeted me, he urged me to drop the formality of Majesty. "Please," he said, "call me Hussein. Itís my name, after all!" The interior dťcor was beige on beige and completely forgettable. Jehan Sadatís parlor had been furnished with exquisite antiques and treasures from all over the world, but in those pre-Noor days, Husseinís furniture looked as if it had all been bought in 15 minutes from a high-end mail-order catalog. The only items of note were the big color photos of the kingís eight kids that graced nearly every wall, most taken by Hussein.

Hussein was a small, sturdy man, just 5 feet 4 inches, with an overlarge head and a mouth that took up much of his face. He was not classically handsome, but a cute guy by any womanís standards. He was charismatic, impassioned. Heíd been a thrill seeker as a young man. But now he compelled oneís attention in a gentler manner.

"Do you want to see what is most precious to me?" he asked once the nanny was gone. I nodded and followed him. He led me to the nursery, the wing of the house where his three youngest children slept. The door of each childís room was propped open by floppy-eared stuffed animals, "in case they cry," he said. "Sometimes when I canít sleep I come in here and watch them." He spoke also of his older children. Abdullah, who two decades later would be crowned king, was then 16 and away at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. "Heís a fine son," said Hussein. "We are very close. I am trying to decide what to get him for his birthday." He admitted he was closest to the "babies," as he called them, who then ranged in age from 2 to 5. As he took me from room to room, he lingered over each sleeping form, breathing in the musty-sweet child smell as if for reassurance.

Back in the living room, he motioned me to a large plate-glass window. It was a clear night, and the silhouettes of dark, dry hills looked like the backs of whales, beached and sleeping. "Thatís Jerusalem," he said, pointing to clusters of lights beyond the hills. "We are exactly 27 kilometers away. Just within their artillery range."

The two place settings looked lost on the huge dining table. Hussein moved a vase filled with four dozen long-stemmed roses the color of persimmons out of the way so we could talk without obstruction. He was dieting under doctorís orders and wasnít at all happy with the Pritikin-type menu to which he was confined. The cook presented each low-fat course with slapstick drama, hovering nearby to watch the kingís reaction with mock terror. Hussein acted as straight man and groaned mournfully as he poked at each new item on the crested royal plates. When I pronounced a sauceless vegetable dish delicious, the cook smiled ŗ la Roberto Benigni and clutched his heart. "Oh, thank goodness, madam! You have saved my job!"

maryshawn 12-14-2004 10:25 PM

The King and I
Lasting impressions from an audience with Jordanís Hussein - PART 4

KH Talks

The king interrupted the fish course to turn on the Sony portable in the dining room in time to catch the evening news that was broadcast in English at 10 p.m. It was an Israeli broadcast of American network news coverage of a meeting between then-President Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat. "More American good intentions," Hussein muttered, staring at the screen with intensely focused attention. "God help us." The fact that Hussein relied on the thrice-removed news for any kind of real information struck me as both ironic and eerie. It was like a childís game of "telephone" played on a grand scale.

After dinner we sat cross-legged on the floor of the living room and talked about books, rock & roll, and what it was like to be a king in a world where kings were out of fashion. "I think maybe I could have won quite a few elections in my time without much difficulty," he said. "Maybe then oneís image outside might have been different. If you are a monarch thereís a mark against you, at times."

By the time I met him, Hussein had survived more assassination attempts than any other head of state in recent memory, starting at age 15 when he saw his grandfather, King Abdullah (for whom the new King Abdullah is the namesake), shot dead at close range. Hussein was two paces behind when the assassin pointed a revolver at his grandfatherís right ear and pulled the trigger. The boy lunged at the man, who then raised his gun and fired again, this time at Husseinís chest. The bullet struck a medal pinned to his uniform at an angle and ricocheted harmlessly away.

The most famous attempt was the time, in 1958, when two Syrian MiG-17 fighters tried to force Husseinís Dove to crash but the king outmaneuvered his attackers. Another would-be assassin worked in the royal kitchen, where he tried poison dosages on the palace cats. When cat number three turned up dead, Husseinís guards got suspicious. Still another enemy placed acid in the kingís nose drops, a plot that was discovered only by chance as errant drops caused the royal bathroom sink to sizzle.

When I asked the king about the myriad attempts on his life, he shrugged. "Iím rarely frightened at the time," he said. "Only later. It helps that Iím a fatalist. I know when my time comes, thatís it. Nothing is going to prevent it. Without that attitude, one canít go on." He grew thoughtful. "Sometimes I donít like myself very much," he said. "But Iíve tried my best. Iíve never considered being a king as being anything exceptional. Iíve always been proud of the fact that Iíve considered myself an ordinary person. The minute I think Iím anything above that, itís the end of my usefulness to myself or to anyone."

Hussein was quiet for a while. "I believe we go through stages in our life," he said when he spoke again. "An idealistic state when we are young and we still have our hopes, our illusions. A realistic stage when life has taught us to be a bit more cynical. And then perhaps there is a third stage where one finds peace with oneself. Iím at stage two," he said. "Perhaps one day I will reach the third stage. I hope so."

It was nearly midnight, and the king looked tired. But then, all at once, he brightened. "Have you been having any trouble getting through to anyone back in the States?" I could see a certain answer was expected here. I just wasnít sure what it was. "Uh, I have been having a bit of trouble." Husseinís expression bloomed into a conspiratorial smile.

"Follow me," he said, and padded off down a hallway. We passed through his sleeping quarters and study, into the small, stark radio room where he kept every high-tech, gee-whiz communications gadget the pre-PC computer age could offer. The piŤce de rťsistance was a ship-to-shore phone. Hussein touched the black box-shaped device lovingly. "You can dial anywhere in the world direct without going through the overseas operator," he said. "Iím not really supposed to have one," he added. "One is only supposed to have them on boats." I considered telling him that heís the king and can have anything he damn pleases, but I thought better of it. "All right, give me the number you would like to call and I will dial it for you." He was playing magician, and the little black box was his magic rabbit.

maryshawn 12-14-2004 10:28 PM

The King and I
Lasting impressions from an audience with Jordanís Hussein - PART 5

After Dinner and Beyond & Succession

Whom does one call in such a circumstance? I settled on my best friend, Janet, who, with the time difference, I deduced would be at work. Once the connection was made, the king retired discreetly to the next room. "Where are you?!" yelled Janet into the line. "Um . . . Iím at the Palace in Amman having dinner with my friend Hussein," I replied idiotically. I was pretty sure he was listening.

Finally it was time to go. As we walked to the door, the king asked if Iíd send him a book on the interpretation of dreams weíd discussed earlier. "Sometimes itís hard for me to shop," he said, then told me about an incident, on a trip to New York City, in which heíd expressed the desire to visit Abercrombie & Fitch. (The king was an avid sportsman.) But when he got there, security-minded American officials made everyone leave and filled the store with Secret Service agents. "I felt so badly for the sales people," he said. "I just bought the first thing I saw and left."

At the door the king kissed my hand solemnly and said, "I feel like Iíve known you forever." Good line, I thought. But it wasnít a line, not really. It wasnít any kind of pass. Hussein was a man looking for a friend.

The next day I was packing my bags when I got a call from Fouad Ayoub, the kingís press secretary, a lively Stanford-educated man with a fondness for Wittgenstein. "I understand you are leaving Jordan tomorrow," Ayoub said. "I am calling to tell you, His Majesty would like it very much if you would stay."

I panicked. "Oh, I couldnít," I said. "I have a nonrefundable ticket."

"We could change your ticket," said Ayoub. Duh. Could I possibly sound any stupider? "Thank the king for his kindness," I blurted. "But I must return home." The truth was, I was unnerved by the sense that, if I didnít leave, I might find myself somehow in over my head. Like I said, I was young.

In the decades between then and now, Iíve often wondered if I should have grabbed the chance to know this extraordinary man better. In any case, five months after I left Jordan, I received an invitation to Husseinís wedding to Lisa Halaby, the beautiful young American woman now rechristened Noor al-Hussein, light of Hussein. By that time, Iíd written my article and put away all my notes and transcripts in fat file folders, where they remained for the next 20 years.

Three weeks ago, when the world knew for sure the king was dying, I pulled out the folders and read through page after page of Husseinís words. Much of what heíd said was pegged to the events of the day, and had now lost its importance. Other things, when viewed through the lens of time, stood out in poignant relief.

For example, Iíd asked him if he would ever want one of his sons to be king. He didnít know, he said. "Iím not sure I would wish any of them such a burden."

At another point, Iíd asked him my version of the Barbara Walters question (If-you-could-be-a-tree-what-kind-of-tree-would-you-be?): What would he do if a fairy godmother offered him a single wish? What would he ask for? "Iíd like to feel that, after all these years," he said, "one has left something behind. A feeling that people will remember one well, that one would have contributed toward a better future, a more stable future. And peace, if possible. I would wish that all those involved will have the courage to take a gamble on peace. Itís the worthiest of gambles. Thatís my dearest wish of all."

Back then, Husseinís answer struck my editor as glib and politic. Looking at it now, I think the king was telling the truth. However absurdly anachronous his belief in his familyís divine right to rule, he held to the notion with a passionate and guileless sincerity, then bet the entirety of his life on the hope he could make it count for something good.

Like others, I watched the kingís funeral on CNN, fascinated by the panoply of new friends and old enemies who gathered to say goodbye: Assad, Arafat, the Americans, the Israelis ó all those who had agreed and disagreed with him, those whoíd actively tried to overthrow him. In the end, they honored him because, for all his mistakes, for all his victories, they understood he was kind, brave, full of heart, a decent man in an arena where such men are in far too short supply. And for that heíll be remembered. By me. By everyone.

Balqis 12-15-2004 01:25 AM

WOW, excellent article, so touching and fascinating. I wonder if she had stayed what would have happened...He seemed really lonely and kinda looking for someone. What do you think, Mary Shawn? Was Noor a replacement for Alia? That sounds dreadful I know, but sometimes it's not. He seemed to be the kind of man who wanted to feel fire and love, it was an essential part of him.

queenkat101 12-15-2004 02:22 AM

I really enjoyed the article too, thanks maryshawn! I really do think very highly of King Hussein, and I miss his presence in the region and the world. He had an old-world charm and a depth and wisdom that was enchanting.

maryshawn 12-15-2004 03:29 AM

Replacement for Alia? I think so.....
 
Well, I am just grateful the author took it out to share. Sorry I had to chop it up but could only post so much at one time. I definitely think KH WAS looking for a replacement for Alia. I know many members don't agree but I posted photos of the two about the same time and there are similarities in looks and both Alia and Noor shared certain qualities: Their husband came first, devotion to children and good causes, practical yet humorous, lots of energy, and both loved the things he loved--boats, helicopters and flight in general, Aquaba; in fact, THEIR devotion to fashion was largely prompted by KH! He was very fond of them wearing gorgeous Valentino and other couture outfits. I felt enormous empathy for him.....little things like propping open the children's doors so he could hear them, so lonely even though he was tired, he lured his guest into staying longer by showing her his ham radio system, and I particularly found his comments about concerns about 'putting responsibilities of being King on ANY of his sons" enlightening. He knew it was a dangerous, touchy, demanding role.....he was being a dad looking out for his sons.

I still wonder, in that last visit home when that letter to Hassan was written, if he was really thinking like himself.....or if lymphoma had spread to brain and impaired judgement. THAT letter was not what I expected when I read it---it was rambling, rather confusing, made private family matters public, so unlike him......But there's no question this was a great man who needed a partner to share things with. He found a soul-mate, if you will, in Alia; and I do believe he found something very similar over time in Noor. I read an article about his getting out of ambulance on stretcher during his last trip to hospital in Amman and found it so touching he kept reaching out for his wife's hand........You said it best, he wanted to feel fire and love; it was an essential part of him. PS Glad you enjoyed it too; I sure did.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Balqis
WOW, excellent article, so touching and fascinating. I wonder if she had stayed what would have happened...He seemed really lonely and kinda looking for someone. What do you think, Mary Shawn? Was Noor a replacement for Alia? That sounds dreadful I know, but sometimes it's not. He seemed to be the kind of man who wanted to feel fire and love, it was an essential part of him.


maryshawn 12-15-2004 03:34 AM

KH's Quiet But Profound Depth and Charm
 
What a marvelous way to describe him! I'm going to use that sometime.....he did have that old-world charm and his depth and wisdom and ability to relate to people at all levels was indeed enchanting. HE was enchanting. His loss was the world's loss in so many ways. Thank you; I AM glad you liked the article......Mary Shawn

Quote:

Originally Posted by queenkat101
I really enjoyed the article too, thanks maryshawn! I really do think very highly of King Hussein, and I miss his presence in the region and the world. He had an old-world charm and a depth and wisdom that was enchanting.


sommone 12-15-2004 05:04 AM

Thanks MS for posting the article...KH was indeed a lonely man. How did you manage to find that interview?

Bubbette 12-15-2004 12:03 PM

Lonely? What about his 8 children he had at that time!

Redrose53083 12-15-2004 12:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bubbette
Lonely? What about his 8 children he had at that time!

His 8 children could not give him the same love and attention a wife would. Besides, most of his kids were probably away at boarding school at the time.

sommone 12-15-2004 02:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Redrose53083
His 8 children could not give him the same love and attention a wife would. Besides, most of his kids were probably away at boarding school at the time.


Thank you Redrose for summing up what I was going to say. Yes, Bubbette lonely without the love of his life. There are some spaces even children can't fill unfortunately.

maryshawn 12-16-2004 01:26 AM

Finding Story
 
Pure luck. Shortly after KH's death, I filed several stories but just recently read them. I loved this one the best.



Quote:

Originally Posted by sommone
Thanks MS for posting the article...KH was indeed a lonely man. How did you manage to find that interview?


T-R-O-U-B-L-E 12-16-2004 01:25 PM

Quote:

I feel Iím so full of scars and ó Iím getting on in life. I feel I wouldnít like to burden anyone with me and my problems, after all that has happened. These 42 very full years sometimes seem like many more than 42." He sighed. "Although I feel the gap there very much indeed
I found this part so touching,it made me cry :(

Quote:

Well," he said, "I suppose I am truly myself flying my plane. And when Iím out in the villages with ordinary people. Let me think about it. I will arrange something."
I loved this part,lol

Quote:

When he greeted me, he urged me to drop the formality of Majesty. "Please," he said, "call me Hussein. Itís my name, after all!"
Ahhh! wasn't he amazing!!


Quote:

Back in the living room, he motioned me to a large plate-glass window. It was a clear night, and the silhouettes of dark, dry hills looked like the backs of whales, beached and sleeping. "Thatís Jerusalem," he said, pointing to clusters of lights beyond the hills. "We are exactly 27 kilometers away. Just within their artillery range."
He passed away before going there (after what happend in 1950)...his dream was to go pray in al-Aqsa mosque! :(


Quote:

"I believe we go through stages in our life,An idealistic state when we are young and we still have our hopes, our illusions. A realistic stage when life has taught us to be a bit more cynical. And then perhaps there is a third stage where one finds peace with oneself"
This can be so much used as a quote!(WOW amazing!)

Quote:

The next day I was packing my bags when I got a call from Fouad Ayoub, the kingís press secretary, a lively Stanford-educated man with a fondness for Wittgenstein. "I understand you are leaving Jordan tomorrow," Ayoub said. "I am calling to tell you, His Majesty would like it very much if you would stay."I panicked. "Oh, I couldnít," I said. "I have a nonrefundable ticket."
"We could change your ticket," said Ayoub. Duh. Could I possibly sound any stupider? "Thank the king for his kindness," I blurted. "But I must return home." The truth was, I was unnerved by the sense that, if I didnít leave, I might find myself somehow in over my head. Like I said, I was young.
lol this is so funny...king hussien was indeed lovable ..I am wondering what cud have happend if she stayed?!

Quote:

Iíd like to feel that, after all these years," he said, "one has left something behind. A feeling that people will remember one well, that one would have contributed toward a better future, a more stable future
He had always stressed on such an Issue,that he wanted to leave smthing good and useful behind to be remembered through.

Thank you MS...this was an amazing article!
Sorry If I shared w/u all the stuff i thought of while reading it. :o

maryshawn 12-16-2004 11:37 PM

King Hussein
 
I found myself nodding my head in agreement. Your thoughts were mine. Are mine. That three stages in life quote is so spot on!

Quote:

Originally Posted by T-R-O-U-B-L-E
Thank you MS...this was an amazing article!
Sorry If I shared w/u all the stuff i thought of while reading it. :o


maryshawn 12-19-2004 07:25 PM

King Hussein: Articles, Interviews & Speeches
 
"The King and I" by Chief of Household Staff - PART 1

The following was written for the "Washingtonian" magazine by John Rolfs, who worked as manager of KH and QN's palace in the 1980's. It's a long article, so I'll just give you some highlights:

"How do you run a palace? Well, for starters, I counted the number of staff--130--and decided it would be like a small, exclusive hotel.....we had 24 hour operations......just for food services alone, we had 2 food and beverage managers, a kitchen staff of 17, 3 executive chefs, 3 Arab chefs and a pastry chef from France......we had engineers, waiters, housekeepers and 4 British nannies to care for the 4 children living in the palace."

"We also had a Japanese masseuse who was on 24 hour call and a hairdresser we hired from Paris because her Majesty liked the way he'd done her hair once. And we had one woman whose sole job was to manage the Queen's wardrobe. It was a big job as the Queen owned 300 pairs of shoes and rooms and rooms of dresses."

"Our annual budget was $9 million, which covered the family household expenses, palace operations and official state visits. For Queen Elizabeth's visit alone, we spent $25K just on flowers."

Life at the Palace

"Meals were simple and always began with a soup course (they both loved soup) and dinner would have 4 or 5 salads and at least 3 entree selections followed by 4 or 5 dessert selections."

"A typical day would start at 8:30, when His Majesty would get up, sometimes ride his exercise bike, and then have a breakfast of Perrier, orange juice, Arabic tea, grapefruit, and toast we made from a bread we had shipped in from Vienna. He was very easy to please. Her Majesty would change her order more often--sometimes French toast or crepes, other times oatmeal or yogurt. But she always had a glass of water, a glass of orange juice and a glass of milk with a single ice cube in it. After eating, the King would get dressed, then go to the office. The Queen would do 1/2 hour of aerobics than get on with her schedule, which was almost as full as the King's when she wasn't pregnant."

"The King and Queen actually spent a lot of time together. He would come home for lunch and later in the day they would play with the children. Many times, they would go up to their palace quarters at eight and stay there, just the two of them, till they went to bed about one in the morning. No guests, no phone calls."

"They spent a lot of time reading and talking. His Majesty read a lot of aviation magazines, while Her Majesty preferred French fashion magazines. But they're favorite nighttime activity was to watch movies. I swear they've seen every American movie I can think of. We had a collection of 4000 videos--everything from "Not Necessarily the News" to "48 Hours"--and sometimes we shipped in as many as 50 videotapes a week from the U.S."

"Many nights they would just sit and watch a movie while they ate dinner around 10 PM. KH loved to eat tacos; I think I could've served him tacos every night and he would have loved it. He also loved burgers and Coke; that's what he snacks on when he travels."

maryshawn 12-19-2004 07:54 PM

"The King and I" by Chief of Household Staff - PART 2

Possessions

"It surprised me to see how much the King and Queen could be like the rest of us. The Queen, for instance, loved to play "Trivial Pursuit." She would often have a brownie and a glass of milk before bed. And she loved to watch "Dallas." The shows were about 2 years behind America so I knew who shot J.R. when that episode ran in Jordan. But I didn't want to spoil it for her."

"The King loved to play with his ham radios. Almost every day, he would go into his room filled with computers and radios and call other ham radio operators all over the world. He would never identify himself by name but the staff would send cards and photos to the people the King had talked to. Only then would they find out they'd been chatting with KH."

"QN and KH spent a lot of time at their summer palace on the Gulf of Aqaba. Their Majesties found it very relaxing and spent time swimming, boating, water skiing or just relaxing on their private beach, just 300 yards from the Israeli border."

"....compared to the Sultan of Oman, KH is a man of modest wealth but, to me, his possessions seemed staggering. For starters, he owns , in addition to his 2 homes in Jordan, houses in London, Vienna, the Canary Islands and Cannes. He owns 120 Arabic horses, 36 boats, including the 90 foot yacht he uses for guests. It's a beautiful boat with one exception--machine guns are mounted at bow and stern."

"He is also a big collector of classic cars and guns. In the front lobby of the Palace he has several cases filled with guns, including 2 rare antique shotguns and 1 gold machine gun. He owns 175 cars, including an antique Porsche, bulletproof mercedes and a gold Mercedes once owned by Hitler. He also took pride in a beautiful blue Rolls Royce, which was used when QN was pregnant as it had the smoothest ride."

"Unless he was with another head of state, the King always did his own driving. He loved taking his children for rides on one of his 30 motorcycles. But his greatest love was flying--from his Lear Jet, 727s, and helicopters, it was his favorite outlet.

Children and Rest of Story

.....flying was one of the many ways KH and QN enjoyed their children. The played often with them and it was not unusual for them to go to Prince Ali's soccer games."

"They definitely indulged the children. Each had a personal computer and a motorized miniature car. Once, when KH and QN were in London, they sent home, via Royal Jordanian Airlines, a case of McDonald's hamburgers for the kids. They read to them and the children had their own zoo....but in other ways, their Majesties were quite strict. No TV on school nights and no sweets or soft drinks was an official written policy."

"When Queen Elizabeth visited, the family went to Aqaba. Her staff said they had never seen the Queen so relaxed as she sat out on the beach. And she was not picky--indulging in pizza on the boat and popcorn when watching a movie."

"Why did I leave? First, I was missing time with my daughter with my long days at the Palace. And my wife was very lonely......and then there was the fear that comes from being an American in the Middle East. Everywhere we went, we saw people--even children--with guns. KH wore a pistol in his belt at all times......it was hard to get used to."

"I left with very good feelings about KH and QN. I respect KH as a great leader, one who is trying to bring his country into the next century while sustaining his people's pride at being Jordanian. The tragedy is he has to spend most of his time dealing with conflicts instead of concentrating on his country's development."

"QN faces almost as difficult a dilemma. She has had to deal with a great deal of resentment in Jordan over her American background. Yet she has managed to become very active in Jordanian affairs, particularly in education. She brings with her values and a level of sophistication that are an asset to the country."

"The final straw was when a major didn't recognize my ID and slapped me across the face. At that point, another Royal Guardsman smacked me across the back with a two by four and several others spun around and pointed their M-16s at me. They marched me to a pit where I remained for 2 hours until someone realized who I was. KH returned to Amman a few days later and promptly came to our house to apologize in person. It was a new major, he explained, and everyone was on edge because of recent threats on the King's life. I truly appreciated His concern and taking time to come to our house to explain....but now that I'd had guns actually pointed at me, I noticed them everywhere. Our stay in Jordan had been a once in a lifetime experience. But now it was time to end."

Balqis 12-20-2004 12:45 AM

Thanks very much Mary Shawn for this very insightful glimpse into King Hussein's and Queen Noor's life. I liked the fact that they came across like regular people in very unusual circumstances.

I can't resist the following though: talk about extravagance LOL. Were King Hussein and Queen Noor also accused of dipping into aid money or is this a recent invention? ;)

T-R-O-U-B-L-E 12-20-2004 10:55 AM

Quote:

The King loved to play with his ham radios. Almost every day, he would go into his room filled with computers and radios and call other ham radio operators all over the world. He would never identify himself by name but the staff would send cards and photos to the people the King had talked to. Only then would they find out they'd been chatting with KH.
So we can say that his ham Radios are like chating online nowadays? Wow that's cool!

Quote:

and then there was the fear that comes from being an American in the Middle East. Everywhere we went, we saw people--even children--with guns.
Oh God,this is so untrue,everyone-even children-had guns!! yea Right!!

Quote:

The final straw was when a major didn't recognize my ID and slapped me across the face. At that point, another Royal Guardsman smacked me across the back with a two by four and several others spun around and pointed their M-16s at me. They marched me to a pit where I remained for 2 hours until someone realized who I was.
cud this be true?? I dunno I kinda feel this guy is making some stuff up? (or maybe I dun wanna believe all this cud happen in Jordan:( )


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