Sunday, February 6, 2011
RWR: From "Lisa" to "Light"
While marriages between commoners and Royals are not unheard of, the love match between American-born and educated Lisa Halaby to King Hussein of Jordan was certainly unusual.
Lisa Halaby was a 26 year old Princeton graduate working as a decorator for Pan-Am in Jordan when she met the thrice-married 42 year old King of Jordan at an airport ceremony in Amman. Halaby, the granddaughter of a Lebanese man who emigrated to the United States, reportedly felt very at home in the Middle East and was already acclimated to life in Jordan when she first encountered King Hussein. However, she took three days to accept the King's proposal which followed a six-week courtship that consisted of being dined every evening. Agreeing to become a Queen is not something to be taken lightly, but she did finally agree, out of love "for the man, not the king."
It is not the custom in Jordan for women to receive engagement rings.
The couple was married on June 15, 1978 at Raghdan Palace in Amman in what Halaby later described as "perhaps the one of the most modest Royal weddings of all time." The ceremony was a small, traditional Muslim affair, with no bridal attendants present, and reportedly was only four minutes long. Halaby looked like many other Western brides of the late 1970s. She wore a modest, simple Dior gown and very little jewelry with a traditional white tulle veil, carrying a cascade of white orchids.
Upon marrying the King, Lisa Halaby's name became "Noor al Hussein" or "Light of Hussein". The two had four children together and remained married until the death of the King in 1999. She remains Dowager Queen Noor to this day, devoting her time to charitable pursuits.