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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of Science in this com...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of waste ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Representative

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea