It was on 15 June 1978 in Amman that an American, with Syrian roots, Lisa Halaby married King Hussein and became the Queen of Jordan. She relinquished her American citizenship, converted to Sunni Islam and took the name of Noor Al-Hussein. She became his fourth wife after the twice-divorced King was widowed when Queen Alia was killed in a helicopter crash in 1977.
Lisa Najee Halaby was born on 23 August 1951 in Washington D.C. to Najeeb Halaby, whose father was a Syrian Christian immigrant, and Doris Carlquist. She has a younger brother, Christian, and a younger sister, Alexa. Their parents divorced in 1977; their father passed away in 2003 and their mother in 2015.
For the then Lisa’s education, she attended school at the National Cathedral School in D.C., The Chaplain School in New York, and Concord Academy in Massachusetts. She then attended the Ivy League Princeton in New Jersey for her university education where she was a member of the ice hockey team and received a degree in architecture and urban planning.
She would move to Australia to work in architecture before moving to Tehran, Iran, to work for a British architectural firm. However, Lisa would return home to the United States a couple of years later. Arab Air Services, which was founded by her father, hired her. They had been commissioned by the Jordanian government to redesign the country’s airlines. Later, she would move on to Alia Airlines as the Director of Facilities Planning and Design. She would meet the widowed King Hussein, 15 years her senior while working for the airline and helping to redesign the Queen Alia International Airport in 1977. The airport was, of course, named after the late Queen Alia who had died earlier that year. A friendship was formed, which eventually blossomed into love.
In 1978, they announced their engagement. Hussein and Lisa were married in June. She later said, “I pondered long and hard and really put off answering him, King Hussein when it was clear that he was proposing. He was taking a huge leap of faith in proposing we share our lives together.”
They would go on to have four children together: Prince Hamzah (b. 1980), Prince Hashim (b. 1981), Princess Iman (b. 1983), and Princess Raiyah (b. 1986). She became the step-mother to his other children by his previous wives and helped raise the children he shared with Alia. The youngest, Prince Ali, was not yet two. Princess Haya was just about to turn three. Hussein and Alia’s adopted daughter, Abir Muhaisen, was four.
The King and Queen remained married until his death on 7 February 1999. The Queen has continued working with causes close to her heart and is the longest-standing member of the Board of Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons. Furthermore, she is the president of the United World Colleges movement and received the Woodrow Wilson Award in 2015 for her public service. Her Majesty is the chair of the King Hussein Foundation International (in 1979 she founded the King Hussein Foundation) which awards the King Hussein Leadership Prize in the United States to people or groups that have shown leadership in areas like human rights, tolerance, and peace.
Like her step-daughter-in-law, Queen Rania, Queen Noor is a regular Twitter user, and you can follow her, here. Noor has also written an autobiography called Leap of Faith (UK & US) published in 2005.
Noor now splits her time and lives in Washington D.C., United Kingdom, and Jordan. Aside from her native English, Her Majesty also speaks Arabic and French. She holds many Jordanian honours and foreign ones from Austria, Brunei, Denmark, Egypt, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.