Royal wedding highlights continuity

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AMMAN, June 1, (Agencies): The wedding of Jordan’s crown prince to the scion of a prominent Saudi family began on Thursday in a palace celebration that drew massive crowds and a mood of excitement around the kingdom, while presenting the young Hashemite royal as a new player on the global stage. The marriage of Crown Prince Hussein, 28, and Saudi architect Rajwa Alseif, 29, drew a star-studded VIP list headlined by Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate.

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein and Saudi Rajwa Alseif wave to well-wishers during their wedding ceremonies in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, June 1, 2023. (AP)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania welcomed them and several other royals from around the world, as well as U.S. First Lady Jill Biden. A senior Kuwaiti official on Thursday attended wedding of the Jordanian Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, accompanied by his spouse, attended the wedding in his capacity as the Representative of both His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah is the head of His Highness the Crown Prince Diwan. King Abdullah II and Queen Rania received the well wishers. The bride, wearing an elegant white dress, arrived at Zahran Palace in a 1968 Rolls-Royce Phantom V custom-made for the late Queen Zein al-Sharaf, the crown prince’s great grandmother.

The crown prince arrived earlier in full ceremonial military uniform with a gold-hilted saber. The families and their guests gathered in an open-air gazebo surrounded by landscaped gardens for a traditional Muslim wedding ceremony known as “katb al-ketab.” The celebrations hold deep significance for the region, emphasizing continuity in an Arab state prized for its longstanding stability and refreshing the monarchy’s image. It even could help Jordan forge a strategic bond with its oil-rich neighbor, Saudi Arabia. Crowds were gathering at huge screens set to livestream the wedding across the country, with many attendees waving flags and decked out in the white-and-red checkered scarves worn by Jordan’s ruling family, the Hashemites. At the ancient Roman amphitheater in the center of the capital, Amman, Jordanian singer Hussein Salman pumped up the crowds with congratulatory wedding ballads.

The 6,000-seat theater was almost completely full, as families sang along and children, with “Celebrating Hussein” painted on their cheeks, clapped wildly. “This is an important day because he is our future king,” said Ahmad al-Masri, an 18-year-old attending with his family. “All of Jordan is watching.” On Thursday morning, Saudi wedding guests and tourists – the men wearing white dishdasha robes and the women in brightly colored abayas – filtered through the sleek marbled lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Amman. Noura Al Sudairi, an aunt of the bride, was wearing sweatpants and sneakers on her way to breakfast. “We are all so excited, so happy about this union,” she said. “Of course it’s a beautiful thing for our families, and for the relationship between Jordan and Saudi Arabia.”

Excitement over the nuptials – Jordan’s biggest royal event in years – has been building in the capital of Amman, where congratulatory banners of Hussein and his beaming bride adorn buses and hang over winding hillside streets. Shops had competing displays of royal regalia. Royal watchers speculated about which dress designer Alseif would select- still an official secret. “She looks like such a princess that I think she deserves him,” Suhair Afaneh, a 37-yearold businesswoman, said of the bride, lingering in front of a portrait of Hussein in a dark suit. “But so what, I’ll still be in love with him.” She contemplated buying Hussein’s portrait to hang in her bedroom but her nieces persuaded her that her husband might not approve. Jordan’s 11 million citizens have watched the young crown prince rise in prominence in recent years, as he increasingly joined his father, Abdullah, in public appearances.

Hussein has graduated from Georgetown University, joined the military and gained some global recognition speaking at the U.N. General Assembly. His wedding, experts say, marks his next crucial rite of passage. “It’s not just a marriage, it’s the presentation of the future king of Jordan,” said political analyst Amer Sabaileh. “The issue of the crown prince has been closed.”

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