Queen Noor of Jordan
Queen Noor of Jordan (Arabic: جلالة الملكة نور; born Elizabeth (Lisa) Najeeb Halaby on 23 August 1951) is the widow of King Hussein. She was his fourth spouse and queen consort between their marriage in 1978 and his death in 1999. She is also known as Noor Al-Hussein.
A United States citizen by birth and of Syrian, English and Swedish descent, she renounced her American citizenship in favor of Jordanian citizenship at the time of her marriage. As of 2011, she is president of the United World Colleges movement and an advocate of the anti-nuclear weapons proliferation campaign Global Zero.
Family and early life
Queen Noor was born Elizabeth (Lisa) Najeeb Halaby in Washington, D.C. She is the daughter of Najeeb Halaby and Doris Carlquist (Swedish descent). Her father was an aviator, airline executive, and government official. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Truman administration, before being appointed by John F. Kennedy to head the Federal Aviation Administration. Najeeb Halaby had a successful private-sector career, serving as CEO of Pan American World Airways from 1969 to 1972. The Halabys had two children following Lisa; a son, Christian, and a younger daughter, Alexa. They divorced in 1977.
Noor's paternal grandfather, Najeeb Elias Halaby, a Syrian immigrant, was a petroleum broker, according to 1920 Census records. Merchant Stanley Marcus, however, recalled that in the mid-1920s, Halaby opened Halaby Galleries, a rug boutique and interior-decorating shop, at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas, Texas, and ran it with his Texas-born wife, Laura Wilkins (1889–1987, later Mrs. Urban B. Koen). Najeeb Halaby died shortly afterward, and his estate was unable to continue the new enterprise.
According to research done in 2010 for the PBS series Faces of America by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard University, her great-grandfather, Elias Halaby, came to New York around 1891, one of the earliest Syrian immigrants to the United States. He had been a Christian and provincial treasurer (magistrate) in the Ottoman Empire. He left Syria with his two eldest sons. His wife Almas and remaining children joined him in the United States in 1894. He died three years later, leaving his teenage sons, Habib, and Najeeb (her paternal grandfather), to run his import business. Najeeb moved to Dallas around 1910 and fully assimilated into American society.
Lisa Halaby attended National Cathedral School from fourth to eighth grade. She briefly attended The Chapin School in New York City, then went on to graduate from Concord Academy in Massachusetts. She entered Princeton University with its first coeducational freshman class, and received a BA in architecture and urban planning in 1973.
After she graduated, Lisa Halaby moved to Australia, where she worked for a firm that specialized in planning new towns. She became increasingly interested in the Middle East and immediately accepted a job offer from a British architectural firm that had been employed to redesign Tehran, Iran. In 1976 she moved back to the United States. She thought about earning a master's degree in journalism and starting a career in television production. However, she accepted a job offer from Managing Director of Arab Air Services, which was founded by her father, who was commissioned by the Jordanian government to redesign their airlines. She became Director of Facilities Planning and Design of the airline he founded.
In 1977, she was working for Royal Jordanian Airlines, in which capacity she attended various high-profile social events as the Director of Facilities Planning and Design. This is where she met Hussein of Jordan for the first time on the development of the Queen Alia International Airport. The airport was named after Queen Alia, Hussein's third wife, who died in a helicopter crash the same year. Halaby and the king became friends while he was still mourning the death of his wife. Their friendship evolved and the couple became engaged in 1978.
Marriage and children
Halaby and King Hussein wed on 15 June 1978 in Amman, becoming his fourth wife and Queen of Jordan.
Upon marriage, she accepted her husband's religion Islam and became known as Noor Al-Hussein ("Light of Hussein"). The wedding was a traditional Muslim ceremony. Although initially she was thought of as a stranger to the country and the people, soon she enjoyed power and influence as King Hussein's consort.
Upon marriage, Noor assumed the management of the royal household and three stepchildren, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Abir Muhaisen (her husband's children by Queen Alia). Queen Noor and King Hussein had four children:
- Prince Hamzah (born 29 March 1980), Crown Prince from 1999 to 2004, who has three daughters.
- Prince Hashim (born 10 June 1981), who has three daughters.
- Princess Iman (born 24 April 1983), who has one daugter
- Princess Raiyah (born 9 February 1986).
Behind the scenes, Noor was involved in politics, for which she was criticized by fundamentalists. In 1984, she supported her husband when he criticized the Americans for being one-sided in their commitment to Israel, while the Americans criticized her for siding with the Jordanians.
Following a long battle with lymphatic cancer, King Hussein died on February 7, 1999. After his death, his first-born son, Abdullah, became king and Hamzah became Crown Prince. Unexpectedly, during 2004, Prince Hamzah was stripped of his status as heir presumptive. On 2 July 2009, King Abdullah II named his eldest son as heir to the throne, thereby ending the previous five years' speculation over his successor.
Though Noor is the queen dowager, she is stepmother to King Abdullah II and thus cannot be classified as "queen mother"; accordingly, she is known as "HM Queen Noor of Jordan", while King Abdullah's wife Queen Rania is styled "HM The Queen of Jordan" as per her status of consort. The present King's mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein, an Englishwoman formerly known as Antoinette Avril Gardiner.
Queen Noor divides her time between Jordan, Washington, D.C. and England (in London and at her country residence, Buckhurst Park, near Winkfield in Berkshire). She continues to work on behalf of numerous international organizations. She speaks Arabic, English and French. The queen also enjoys skiing, water skiing, tennis, sailing, horseback riding, reading, gardening and photography.
- Jordan : Grand Cordon with collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali (5.6.1978).
- Jordan : Special Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Renaissance (5.6.1978).
- Austria : Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (1978).
- Brunei : First Class of the Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Brunei (DK, 1984).
- Denmark : Dame of the Order of the Elephant of Denmark (27.4.1998).
- Egypt : First Class of the The Virtues (Nishan al-Kamal) (1989).
- Italy : Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (26.11.1983).
- Spain : Dame Grand Cross The Order of Isabella the Catholic (22.3.1985).
- Sweden : Member of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (15.9.1989).
- United Kingdom : Dame Grand Cross of the Venerable Order of Saint John (GCStJ, 16.6.1989).
- Spain : Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (4.11.1994).
Books written by Queen Noor
- Noor, Queen (2000). Hussein of Jordan. KHF Publishing.
- Noor, Queen (2003). Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life. New York, New York, USA: Miramax/Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6717-5.
- "Faces of America: Queen Noor", PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
- Stout, David (3 July 2003). "Najeeb E. Halaby, Former Airline Executive, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Stanley Marcus. Minding the Store: A Memoir, 1974, pg. 39.
- Lucia Raatma, Queen Noor: American-Born Queen of Jordan, 2006.
- "Queen Noor of Jordan Biography". biography.com. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- BBC World: Middle East - Battle of the Wives
- "Jordan crown prince loses title". BBC News. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Queen Noor: Bridging Worlds and Roles
- Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan. Official Biography.
- Royal Ark, Jordanian genealogy details
- "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 520. Retrieved November 2012.
- Italian Presidency Website, S.M. Noor Regina di Giordania
- (Spanish) Boletín Oficial del Estado (1985.03.25)
- (Spanish) Boletín Oficial del Estado (1994.11.11)
- King Hussein Foundation website
- Queen Noor on Twitter
- Noor Al Hussein Foundation website
- Global Zero Campaign
- Transcript of a speech given at The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in 1996
- 2002 commencement speech - Mount Holyoke College
Title last held byAlia al-Hussein
|Queen consort of Jordan
15 June 1978 – 7 February 1999
Rania Al Abdullah
The Prince of Wales
|President of the United World Colleges