Queen Nour speaks out about her 21-year marriage to the late King Hussein
Never before has Queen Nour, wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan, spoken about her life and experience as Queen of Jordan and her marriage to one of the most-loved kings of all time. The Queen had decided to take a daring step and write an account of her 21-year marriage. The book “Leap of Faith, Memoirs of an Unexpected Life” has been released and published by Miramax Books at a time when the eyes of the world are focused on the Middle East.
According to the London based daily, Al Quds Al Arabi, the sequence of events in the book begin with a truly romantic love story that produced a beautiful portrait of a deeply committed marriage amid the turbulent politics of the Middle East during the last three decades. Queen Nour recalls a courtship carried out over long evenings at the palace, as the couple’s mutual respect and affection grew.
It all started in 1976 when the Queen, formerly known as Lisa Halaby, was introduced to King Hussein of Jordan on an airport runway. She was a recent graduate of Princeton University. At that time she was trying to focus on acquiring a career in journalism and the thought of marriage was not in her agenda, especially marriage to a King. Two years after their first meeting, King Hussein had proposed to her and of course it was like living a dream.
The Queen went on to talk about her new responsibilities as a stepmother of eight children and later on of her own children. Queen Nour takes the reader inside the palace grounds and relates many touching and light-hearted stories of their everyday life as a family, depicting the King as a proud and doting father despite his position. She also had her share of personal adjustments living in an environment where the public and private were often mixed together.
Leap of Faith is also the story of a love for a people, culture, and natural beauties of a country and region not well known around the world. Part Arab on her father’s side, Queen Nour feels an immediate bond with her new home Jordan, a country she loved from the time of her very first visit. “I had found myself spellbound by the serene expanse of desert landscape washed golden by the retreating sun at dusk. I was overwhelmed by an extraordinary sensation of belonging, an almost mystical sense of peace.” She writes about her conversion to Islam and her dedication to bringing a true picture of the Arab world to the West.
Queen Nour also witnessed the making of history, much of it violent, but some of it triumphant, such as the King’s decisive role in the forging of the Washington Declaration. She watched her husband’s tireless efforts to create peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors spanning the terms of six U.S. presidents. She tells of death threats and high-stakes meetings with world leaders, and recounts the personal accomplishments and failures that motivated the King. She recreates the period of the Gulf War seeking to set the record straight about King Hussein’s political position during the crisis. She had also noted out how the first lady of the US at that time, Barbara Bush, had refused to all efforts by the Queen to see the true picture behind the consequences of the first Gulf War and how much suffering was caused to the Iraqi people at the time. She stressed that she was extremely disappointed to see that the US was brainwashed by false propaganda about the Middle East and how they refused to look at the other side of the story.
One of the main aims the Queen had were in the field of human development and working with UN and other international institutions that strive for bettering humanity. She contributed tremendously to Jordan’s development of women’s and children’s welfare, human rights, education, and the environment. She writes of her challenge to broaden the role of the Jordanian Queen with the encouragement of her husband.
Throughout her experience, Queen Nour encountered many different challenges and obstacles until the final moments, which was the most painful, of the King’s final battle with Lymphoma. After the death of the Great King in 1999, Queen Nour has maintained her involvement in Jordanian development projects while continuing her humanitarian work throughout the world. She works closely with organizations like the Landmine Survivors Network, the International Commission for Missing Persons, Refugee International, United World Colleges, and Seeds of Peace. She divides her time between Amman, London and Washington.
Proceeds from the book will be donated to the King Hussein Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization with offices in the United States and Jordan. The Foundation’s mission is to sustain and build upon King Hussein's lifelong commitment to peace building, sustainable development, and cross-cultural understanding through programs that promote peace and democracy, education and leadership, and environment and health. –Albawaba.com
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)