There's a Whole Lot Riding on This Big Royal Wedding

Nuptials of Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein, Rajwa Alseif to deepen nation's ties to Saudi Arabia
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2023 9:06 AM CDT
Jordan's Biggest Royal Wedding in Years Is Also 'a Test'
A poster with pictures of, from right, King Abdullah II, Crown Prince Hussein, Saudi architect Rajwa Alseif, and Queen Rania is seen in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

The Middle Eastern country of Jordan is hosting its biggest royal wedding in years on Thursday as its young Crown Prince Hussein exchanges vows with Rajwa Alseif, daughter of one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest and most influential families. With a VIP list that includes US first lady Jill Biden, White House climate envoy John Kerry, and members of several European and Asian royal families, the wedding is sure to provide plenty of fodder for tabloids and gossip columns. But the ceremony will reverberate across the region in other ways as well. It's a test of sorts for Jordan's ruling family, which has gone through a rough patch in recent years due to economic troubles and some public infighting, per the AP. It deepens the ties between two countries in a turbulent region and, perhaps most importantly, gives the world its first glimpse of the man tapped to one day rule this desert kingdom.

Jordan has lots of challenges, and lots of problems. It's home to a huge population of refugees who fled war in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and a large Palestinian population as well. Relations with Israel have been strained for the past few years. Its economy is in poor shape, and it's a country with few natural resources. Plus, for the past two years, the former crown prince, Hamzah, has been under house arrest after the king accused him of insubordination. Hamzah was a popular figure with the Jordanian public—especially in poorer tribal areas. It's rare for the royal family to air its dirty laundry like that, and the king's crackdown on his half brother has certainly raised some eyebrows.

Jordan is also seen as a strategic ally for the West. It may be poor, but its location gives it great importance. It's in the heart of the Middle East and borders a number of problematic countries: Syria, with a civil war; Iraq, which is recovering from war; and Israel and the West Bank, which are in a constant state of friction. Jordan, therefore, is an important source of stability for the region. Saudi Arabia, where the crown prince's bride hails from, is important for other reasons. It's an immensely wealthy country—a leading oil producer and a rising power globally. The two countries are now coming together at the highest levels. Jordan depends heavily on international aid, but it has seen aid from wealthy Gulf oil states like Saudi Arabia decrease in recent years. This wedding is likely raising some hopes in Jordan of restoring that flow of aid.

story continues below

Then there's the couple themselves. Both of them are Western-educated, went to college at prestigious universities in the US, and speak fluent English. They can look forward to a life of great privilege, but, like other royal families elsewhere, they'll also be living under a microscope. Perhaps the bigger challenge is for the crown prince. In many ways, he's been groomed for this moment since he was a child. The wedding is a first small test: People are going to look at his appearance to see how he carries himself. But the bigger test will be in the coming months and years, as he truly emerges as a public figure. He’s going to be well-known now on the global stage. Perhaps the biggest challenge: how he's viewed at home. The nation is struggling in so many ways, and people will be watching him closely, to see how he carries himself in front of the people that he's set to one day rule.

(More Jordan stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.