The pair are often likened in the press to Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales — who touched down in Amman to attend the Thursday nuptials among other global royals and dignitaries. First lady Jill Biden, a friend of Queen Rania, also attended the glamorous event before traveling on to Egypt and Morocco.
Wedding fever took over the streets of the capital, Amman: Buildings were adorned with flags and beaming pictures of the royal couple, while flocks of people were preparing to watch the wedding of the year broadcast live on large public screens. Jordanians have been given a two-day holiday, with free public concerts and firework displays to celebrate the occasion.
“Anyone walking in the streets or browsing social media can witness an unprecedented level of celebration,” said Mohammad Asfour, who lives in Amman and is a sustainability expert. “To many, the wedding doesn’t only symbolize a sacred bond between two people in love but a bond between two nations that share a long border and a longer history — to them it symbolizes Jordan’s future.”
However despite the glittering affair, Jordan like other Middle Eastern nations is weathering a tough economic climate. In contrast to some of its neighbors, the country is largely devoid of natural resources and relies on tourism and foreign aid. It suffers from rising unemployment, debt, inflation, and soaring food and energy prices that have led to protests. It also contends with a large refugee population.
Here’s what to know about the lavish celebration happening Thursday.
Who is Crown Prince Hussein?
Hussein has a degree from Georgetown University in international history and has trained at Britain’s prestigious Sandhurst military academy, marching in the footsteps of other global royals.
He is a modern-day royal, with over 4 million followers on Instagram, where he shares behind-the-scenes posts of his mom baking, a state visit to Japan and a FaceTime with his little sister. In one post dedicated to his bride-to-be’s birthday, he gushes about how much he is “looking forward to a life of love, compassion and commitment with you.”
Hussein was confirmed as crown prince at age 15. But in 2021, palace intrigue heightened when the government accused Abdullah’s half brother, former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, and his associates of sedition, claiming he was cooperating with foreign entities to pursue a plot to destabilize the kingdom.
Abdullah has ruled the country since 1999 and cultivated strong military and political ties with several U.S. administrations that have viewed Jordan as a stable ally in the region.
Who is the bride, Rajwa Al Seif?
Al Seif, meanwhile, has inspired a media frenzy in the Middle East, with her appearances and clothes often dissected and analyzed online. She received her architecture degree from Syracuse University in New York in 2017. A video shows her graduating to loud cheers from the audience as she crosses the stage in shiny silver sneakers.
She also studied at a fashion institute in Los Angeles, speaks fluent English, Arabic and French, and reportedly enjoys art and horseback riding.
At a bridal henna party earlier this week, Rania called Al Seif “the sweetest and most beautiful bride-to-be,” and said she was the answer to her prayers for her son.
“To our entire Jordanian family: Our joy is one and the same,” she told the nation of 11 million. “Hussein is your son as much as he is mine — you are his family, and this is your celebration.”
Where was Jordan’s royal wedding?
The pair wed at the historic Zahran Palace in Amman, where the prince’s parents also married, according to the Royal Hashemite Court. After they were married by a sheikh and signed the papers, ululations flooded the room — a celebratory tradition in many Middle Eastern countries, especially at weddings. Then, the royal pair took part in a procession accompanied by a royal motorcade toward the Husseiniya Palace for a banquet reception.
What was Jordan’s royal wedding day like?
The buzzing wedding day was filled with pomp and ceremony and had its own official logo and online hashtag, #CelebratingAlHussein. “The land of the Hashemites beams with joy,” wrote one excited commentator online.
U.S. climate envoy John F. Kerry also attended. Others on the guest list included royals from Japan, Belgium and the Netherlands among other foreign dignitaries.
No details of how the couple first met have been made public, but they became engaged in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, last August, according to the Associated Press, in a ceremony attended by both families.
This is the second royal wedding in Jordan this year. In March, the prince’s younger sister, Princess Iman, married Venezuelan financier Jameel Alexander Thermiotis in a ceremony that also captured public attention.
Sarah Dadouch contributed to this report.