Royal intrigue cost Hassan his crown

CROWN PRINCE Hassan knew that the game of kings had ended the moment his brother landed at Amman's Queen Alia airport last month. There was a formal embrace from the man who had supposedly won his long battle with cancer. But King Hussein ignored Hassan's son, Rashid, and then showed what he thought of his Crown Prince by choosing to travel into the city not with Hassan - as was his normal routine - but alongside his wife, Queen Noor.

Hassan was left behind.

The man who had waited 34 years to be the king of Jordan was stunned. For weeks, he had heard the rumours that his days as crown prince were numbered; a Lebanese newspaper suggested that King Hussein believed that his younger brother was plotting a coup.

But the king had reassured Hassan only days earlier that he intended to make him regent. Hassan's desperate, melodramatic attempt to prove his good faith is already the talk of Amman.

He presented himself before the king and - according to impeccable sources - asked Hussein bluntly: "How have I offended you? Here is my gun. If I have been disloyal to you, please shoot me - but do not disgrace me."

The king ordered Hassan to take his gun back and reassured him yet again.

When a similar account to this story appeared in the small Jordanian newspaper Al-Majed, its editor was accused of "insulting the monarch".

Jordan's authorities are sensitive to the slightest criticism of the royal family, but in the days that have followed the king's death it has been possible to put together an account of Crown Prince Hassan's fall from grace.

In fact, the sequel to his astonishing gesture with the gun was, if anything, even more striking. The king called Hassan to the royal palace late on 20 January to present him with his letter of dismissal. A photographer was waiting to snap Hassan handing over his insignia to the new crown prince - and now king - Abdullah. Hassan returned to his car without the time to read the document; driving away, he turned on the radio only to hear the contents of the unopened letter on the national news.

Many Jordanians feel that the manner of his dismissal was unnecessarily cruel.

As Crown Prince, Hassan had been ordered by the king to handle Jordan's development projects - a role that inevitably brought him into conflict with the government of the former prime minister Abdul Karim Kabariti, who is said to dislike Hassan personally. Premiers believed that Hassan trespassed on their prerogatives - something he had no right to do since the right of succession is the crown prince's only constitutional power.

Even before King Hussein's brave, hopeless insistence of his recovery on 19 January, the royal court had been awash with stories that the monarch was turning against his brother. First, the name of Abdullah would be mooted, then that of Hamzeh, his son by Queen Noor.

Hassan's concerns only increased when he realised the extent to which his communications were being monitored - for years, he had spoken, half- jokingly, to visitors about the taps on his telephone.

In the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, King Hussein was told that Hassan had tried to fire the chief of staff of the army, that Hassan's Pakistani- born wife, Princess Sarvath, had gone so far as to change the carpets in the royal palace in anticipation of becoming queen.

The truth appears to be more prosaic.

At a cost of more than pounds 3m, King Hussein had built a house for Field Marshal Abdul-Hafez Mureii-Kaabneh, a very ugly but otherwise magnificent pile on top of a hill outside of Amman.

Rumour had it that Walid bin Talal, a Saudi millionaire, wanted to purchase the property for pounds 10m but Crown Prince Hassan, after consultations with the king, told the Saudi that the property belonged to the field marshal. Hassan's response - which appears to have been in accordance with the king's wishes - nevertheless provoked the story that he wanted to remove the field marshal. And the king was not amused.

Then came the tale of the carpets. Hassan's home is a charming building once owned by the former British ambassador, Sir Alec Kirkbride, but last year the Crown Prince decided that after years of neglect, the house should be refurbished, along with its adjoining offices. Princess Sarvath, so it is said, wanted to change the decoration in both house and the office. And a new story, as unfair as it appears to be untrue, went the rounds - that the princess was "changing the royal palace" even before the sick king had died.

But Hassan could make dangerous mistakes.

Against the advice of his friends, he commiserated before parliament with the suffering of Iraqi civilians under United Nations sanctions. The Iraqi government reacted angrily because it believed that Hassan had not given sufficient support to the regime, while the king reportedly complained that the crown prince had not been tough enough on the Iraqis.

Princess Sarvath was also widely believed to want to name her son, Rashid, as crown prince when Hassan became king - an idea that would inevitably anger Queen Noor. Those around the princess advised her to forget the notion but it seems that Hassan, too, continued to toy with the idea of naming his own son crown prince once he gained the throne.

In the first days of his own regency, Abdullah showed considerable generosity to his deposed uncle. He greeted him warmly and - when Hassan offered to hand over control of the six academic institutions that he ran - the new king insisted that Hassan should continue to administer the projects.

In a nation in which the monarchy is the one unifying bond, it is as well that the two men appear to get on well. More royal shenanigans, and Jordanians will be wondering what kind of royal family they have inherited.

Suggested Topics
Sport
formula oneLive lap-by-lap coverage of championship decider
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin