There’s not a significant amount of information known about Lalla Salma, as wives of Moroccan rulers usually remain private with no titles. Lalla Salma was the first to be acknowledged publicly and given a title.
Salma Bennani was born on 10 May 1978 in Fes, Morocco in an upper-middle-class family to El Haj Abdelhamid Bennani (a schoolteacher) and Naïma Bensouda. She has one sister, Meryem. Tragically, Salma’s mother died when she was three-years-old, and from then on, Salma and her sister were raised by their maternal grandmother, Hajja Fatma Abdellaoui Maâne in Rabat. Sadly, her grandmother died in 2019.
Educated in Rabat, Salma attended a private primary school and later graduated with outstanding grades in Mathematics and Science at the Lycée Hassan II in 1995. She then completed a two-year preparatory course at the Lycée Moulay Youssef, before graduating from ’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Informatique et d’Analyse des Systèmes with a major in computer science in 2000.
Highly educated, Salma speaks Arabic, English, French, and some Spanish.
Once she graduated in 2000, Salma was employed at the ONA Group (Morocco’s largest private holding company) as an information services engineer in Casablanca. Coincidentally, the ONA Group is partially controlled by the Moroccan Royal Family.
It was during a private party in 1999 that Salma met the soon-to-be King Mohammed, and they would secretly date for a couple of years before marrying. In July of 2000, a statement was issued by the Moroccan Royal Palace announcing the engagement of King Mohammed to Salma Bennani.
The proclamation of the marriage took place on 12 October 2001 (sadaq), and the celebration of the marriage (zafaf) took place the following year on 21 March 2002 in Rabat’s Royal Palace. It was then that her title of “Princess Lalla” and style of “Royal Highness” were given.
At 25, Salma married the King and would be the first wife of a Moroccan monarch to be acknowledged in public and given a royal title. King Mohammed and Princess Lalla Salma have two children: Crown Prince Moulay Hassan (b. 8 May 2003) and Princess Lalla Khadija (b. 28 February 2007).
A modern contemporary woman who breathed “new breath” into Morocco, Princess Lalla Salma carried out public engagements and represented the King at various functions across the globe – including the 2011 wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton and the inauguration of Dutch King Willem-Alexander in 2013. She also founded the NGO Lalla Salma Foundation – Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in 2005.
It is fair to note that while she was in public in Morocco and elsewhere in the world, she was still relatively private compared to her contemporaries in Europe.
Princess Lalla Salma became a Goodwill Ambassador to the World Health Organisation in 2006. She was awarded the Gold Medal of the World Health Organisation in 2017 and has worked with the prevention of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Her Royal Highness also holds foreign honours from Belgium, Senegal, and Spain.
In July 2019, the King’s lawyer confirmed in Gala Magazine that Princess Lalla Salma and the King were divorced.