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THE BOY KING.

WITH his public school education and clipped English accent, he could be a leading member of the British establishment.

His love of the high life , fast cars and beautiful women came from his father.

Now the world waits to discover whether Crown Prince Abdullah has also inherited the skills with which King Hussein of Jordan ruled his country for almost half a century.

And if Hussein was widely considered the Arab world's leading Anglophile, Abdullah is one of the few figures who actually exceeds him in his knowledge of all things British.

Abdullah, 37, who became crown prince less than two weeks ago, is half- English, was partly educated in this country, and even served briefly in a British tank regiment.

He was born in 1962 to Princess Muna, King Hussein's second wife. Before her marriage, she was Toni Gardiner, the daughter of a Lieutenant-Colonel from Ipswich, who was working as a military adviser in the Arab state.

As eldest son, Abdullah was born to be king but he was displaced at the age of three in favour of his uncle, Prince Hassan.

The change of heir, which required constitutional approval from both Jordanian legislatures, is thought to have been to allay fears of a dilution of the royal family's Arabic bloodline.

But late last month an ailing King Hussein reversed the change, following apparent concern that his younger brother had been over-keen to begin taking power.

It is understood Abdullah, not having been groomed to succeed, is inexperienced in state affairs.

He had his first taste of diplomatic life only last week in a hastily- arranged meeting with United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

He also made his first speech in public last week - which prompted onlookers to comment that although he speaks Arabic, he does so with a pronounced English accent.

Until his father's recent change of heart over the succession, Prince Abdullah's life had appeared to be devoted to either military matters or, much like his father when young, the pursuit of pleasure.

Abdullah attended a preparatory school in Surrey and, following a time in the US, enrolled at Royal Military Academy at the age of 18.

After graduating, he served for 15 months with the 13/18 Royal Hussars, taking command of, as he said at the time "a bunch of 16 Yorkshire men who don't give a damn who I am".

He then spent a further year in Britain, studying international politics at Oxford University.

Prince Abdullah continued his military career back in Jordan, and is now commander of the elite Special Operations Command unit.

His lifestyle has been remarkably similar to his father's, who was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst.

The king was a regular visitor to Britain, both in his official role and privately.

He kept private homes in London and its surrounds, and his view of the outside world was largely shaped by his British education which started - before he arrived at Harrow - at the highly-anglophile Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt.

And King Hussein and his fourth wife Queen Noor regularly stayed at Inverlochy Castle near Fort William - described by the late king as his Scottish home.

Abdullah, now married to Princess Rania, a Palestinian, is known to be well-liked and loyally supported in military circles, but the main concern about him is that he is too inexperienced in state affairs.

SORROW OF JORDAN

The Cabinet mourns to the dear Jordanian people, to the brothers, the sons of the noble Arab nation in all its regions, to the brothers in the wide Islamic world and to the friends everywhere the death of the dearest among men, His Hashemite Majesty King Hussein Bin Talal the Great, king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, dean of the House (of the prophet), whom God has chosen to be next to him and passed to heaven at 11.43 am Sunday 21 Shawal, 1419 Hijri, which falls on Feb. 7, 1999 Christian calendar. And the Cabinet, while announcing that, looks up to God above in his merciful sanctuary, with prayers to bestow upon His Majesty, the loss of the country and the nation and the entire humanity, his full mercy and to place him among the righteous. God is the Almighty.

Tributes for the royal peacemaker

TRIBUTES to King Hussein poured in from all around the world yesterday.

World leaders, politicians and friends all praised the much-loved monarch and his crucial role in the Middle East peace process.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the 63-year-old king - who won widespread respect for his pragmatic rule - had been a man of "vision, integrity and courage".

Mr Blair, who was due to attend the funeral with Prince Charles today, added: "He was a man of extraordinary courage but most of all he was a man of extraordinary humility as well."

Prince Charles also spoke of the king - who died of cancer - as a great friend of Britain.

A spokesman for St James's Palace said yesterday: "The Prince of Wales had the greatest affection and admiration for the King."

Buckingham Palace said the Queen and her family were "deeply saddened" by the news of the death.

The king - whose Hashemite family claim direct descent from the prophet Mohammed - was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst military academy and always maintained close links with the UK.

He survived several assassination attempts during his reign but also won many friends, including movie actors Omar Sharif and Peter Ustinov.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said it was with "a deep and personal sense of grief" that he learned of King Hussein's death.

He added: "The world mourns the passing of a king whose true majesty found expression in a lifelong struggle to bring peace to the ordinary men and women of the Middle East."

Former British Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher described King Hussein as "irreplaceable".

She said: "He is a great loss not only to the Middle East, but to the world as a whole."
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Author:McColm, Euan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 8, 1999
Words:993
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