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King Hussein Appreciation: Cutting a dash with the ladies.

Urbane and charming, with a military bearing that belied his short stature, King Hussein spent much of his life and reign delighting in female company.

The 63-year-old monarch produced 11 children from four wives, each of different nationalities. Three of the four weddings were apparently genuine love matches - and two were considered inappropriate for an Arab monarch.

His first marriage, when he was aged19, was to the eminently suitable choice of Dina Abdul Hameed, the daughter of King Saud in Saudi Arabia.

Although they soon produced a daughter, Alia, Hussein was still in his early 20s and became restless with married life to Dina, who was eight years older than him.

Having now acquired something of a reputation for being a playboy after his divorce, the King's next wife was about as far removed from his first as possible.

Ipswich-born, convent-educated Antoinette "Toni" Gardiner, was aged 19 when, in Jordan with her military adviser father, she met King Hussein at a social event.

The British teenager converted to Islam and became Princess Muna al-Hussein, "Delight of Hussein."

The couple's 11-year marriage produced four children, sons Abdullah and Feisai and twins Zin and Aisha, before foundering in 1972.

Hussein's marriage to Palestinian socialite Alia Toukan was more political with the annexation of the West Bank. The couple had two children before she died in a helicopter crash in 1977.

The next year King Hussein took another Western wife, although American Ivy League beauty Elizabeth Halaby was at least half Arabic, through her Syrian-origin father.

Apart from producing a further four children, Queen Noor al-Hussein has spent 20 years carving out a role for herself which balanced the need to be a loyal Arab wife and the independent spirit of a former 60s radical.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 6, 1999
Words:292
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