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Jordan’s current King and Queen have ruled over the country since 1999. King Abdullah II and Rania, Queen consort of Jordan, are unique in their standing as members of the Royal Family. Unlike other monarchs around the world, Abdullah and Rania are actively involved in the politics of their country and relations with countries around the world.
Abdullah’s reign has been characterised by accelerated modernisation – he has mentioned several times that he wishes to bring Jordan into the 21st century socially, and so with him the Middle East too.
However, his current role wasn’t always destined as is the case with most sons of Kings.
Jordan’s crown was intended to go to Abdullah’s uncle, Prince Hassan.
Though months before his death, Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, unexpectedly named Abdullah as his successor.
Having not spent his life – as other heirs to the crown would – preparing, Abdullah’s life was thrown into the centre of a storm.
He told ’60 Minutes Australia’ that it was a role he didn’t want.
It came in 2001, just two years after his reign had begun.
Talking about his father’s return from hospital in the US, Abdullah explained: “He (Hussein) said, ‘I’ve made this decision’ and I said, ‘yes sir, but I don’t want this’.
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“And he said, ‘well that’s one of the reasons I picked you’.
“I wasn’t interested in it; it’s a tremendous job with tremendous responsibilities.
“I saw what it did to my father, there were a lot of pressures on him and the family.”
Up until this point, Abdullah, Rania and their family had lived a life of near obscurity in the US.
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Their life had, Abdullah explained, been completely “normal”.
He said: “A month before my father went into hospital in Rochester, which was roughly six or seven months before he died, I was on a course in Monterey, California.
“It was a military course, and I was with my wife and children.
“She would make breakfast, drive me to the school, pick me up afterwards.
“I’d come home and do the cooking, do the laundry – we had a rental car.
“That was the type of life we lived; we lived a regular life as much as we could.”
Both Abdullah and Rania have bucked the trend of royals the world over, actively engaging in global political discourse.
While Rania regularly talks at summits on human rights issues, namely, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, Abdullah travels the world and has fast become known as the peacekeeper of the Middle East.
As recently as January the King addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Here, he stressed the importance of Europe in engaging with the Middle East in a bid to prevent further outbreak of war and discontent in what has become one of the world’s most unsettled regions.
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