Queen Alia of Jordan’s life was tragically cut short when she was just 28 years old. Born into a life of politics, she eventually would meet and fall in love with the Jordanian king.
Alia Baha ud-din Toukan was born on Christmas Day in 1948 in Cairo, Egypt, to a Palestinian father who served as an ambassador for Jordan in Europe, the Middle East and the United Nations. He also helped King Abdullah I write the Jordanian constitution.
Her young life was spent travelling with her parents around the world where she lived in the United States, Turkey, Egypt, and the United Kingdom; she spent some of her university years in the United States at Hunter College and lived for a time in Rome and attended Rome’s Loyola University Chicago branch. A friend of hers at university explained to me, “Alia was always elegant and beautiful and very sweet. It did not surprise me she became Queen. Her untimely death was a tragedy. ” She studied political science, social psychology, and public relations. She aspired to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a diplomat.
The path of her life would change in 1971 when she made the decision to move to Jordan. She would end up being asked to oversee preparations for the first edition of the International Water Skiing Festival to take place that year. Who asked her to take on the role? King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan whom she had met when she was a child in Egypt while her father was tutoring Hussein.
Alia and the King married in a private ceremony with only 12 guests on 24 December 1972. She was given the title of Queen Alia Al-Hussein. They would have three children: Princess Haya (b. 1974), Prince Ali (b. 1975) and Abir Muhaisen (b. 1973). Abir, a Palestinian, was adopted by the couple after her parents were killed in a plane crash while living in a refugee camp in Amman, Jordan.
Alia was a hardworking consort for the Jordanian people. She created the Office of the Queen of Jordan and took an active role in helping women and children. Her Majesty helped to finance social development projects. She was passionate about impoverished children being given access to education and to improve social services. The Queen, in 1974, called for women to be given the right to vote like the men in Jordan, and later that year the law was created granting the right to vote for women. Libraries were established across the Middle Eastern kingdom due to her love of literature, as well.
Her time as the beloved Queen of Jordan was short-lived. Tragically, she was killed in a helicopter crash in Amman on 9 February 1977. She had been returning from a trip to inspect Tafileh Hospital in southern Jordan. She had gone to the hospital after reading letters from patients; she wanted to see if what they were saying was accurate. It has been said that the King objected to her travelling there that day and that the weather was too dangerous to be flying in.
King Hussein made the announcement of her death on television and radio; he told the Jordanian people that there would be seven days of mourning in the country. She was buried on 11 February on the grounds of Hashimiyah Palace, which had been designed and built for her. Its construction was completed just three months before her untimely passing.