Princess Muna: Bringing Britain into the Royal Hashemite Court




Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Princess Muna al-Hussein, born on 25 April 1941, was the second wife of King Hussein I of Jordan; she is the mother of Jordan’s current monarch, King Abdullah II.

She was born as Antoinette “Toni” Avril Gardiner in Chelmondiston, Suffolk, England and raised as a Christian in the United Kingdom. Her parents were Walter and Doris Gardiner. She was educated at Bourne School, for a time, in Malaysia and was reportedly an excellent field hockey player. She was in school in the Asian country while her father, a high-ranking Army officer, was stationed there; the school would close after British forces left the country. 

Toni would work as a secretary in Stratford in the 1960s during her father’s time being stationed in Long Marston. He would eventually be sent to Jordan as a military adviser on water conservation; it was during this period that she met King Hussein when she was just 19-years-old. A biography by Roland Dallas said that she remarked to the King at a costume party when they met, “It makes you look rather scruffy, Your Majesty!” Toni would work on the set of the movie Lawrence of Arabia (some of the desert scenes were filmed in Jordan), as well during this time. 

On 25 May 1961, the couple married, and she took the name of Muna after converting to Islam (although rumours persisted that she never actually converted). She was known as Her Royal Highness Princess Muna al-Hussein after the birth of their first child. Together, they had four children: (then Crown Prince) King Abdullah II (b. 1962), Prince Faisal (b. 1963), and twins, Princess Aisha (b. 1968) and Princess Zein (b. 1968).

Abdullah was educated for a time in the United Kingdom and underwent training at Sandhurst. According to The Telegraph, he also “served in a British cavalry regiment.” Additionally, he speaks with a clear English accent, and it was said to be his first language ahead of Arabic.

The marriage did not last, and the couple divorced on 21 December 1972, but she was granted permission to keep her style of Royal Highness and title. She continued to live and work in the country. King Hussein died in 1999, and Abdullah succeeded him to the Jordanian throne.

Her Royal Highness has been passionate about the development of nursing in the Middle Eastern country; she founded the Princess Muna Scholarship Fund for Nursing. Furthermore, she founded the Princess Muna College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions (military nursing college at the time of its inception in 1962). The Princess is currently President of the Jordanian Nursing Council; it was created by her son by a Royal Decree in 2002. In 2007, she was awarded the Sigma Theta Tau International Archon Award due to her work in helping the advancement of health and welfare in the world. She is also the Vice-President of the Royal College of Nursing.

Aside from the two national honours, Princess Muna also holds foreign honours from Greece, Iran (from the time of the Shah), Malaysia, Romania and Tunisia.






About Brittani Barger 69 Articles
My name is Brittani, and I am from Tennessee, USA. I have a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Tennessee: Knoxville, and I’m currently pursuing my master’s degree at Northeastern University. I’ve been passionate about history since I was a child. My favorite areas to study and research are World War II through the Cold War, as well as studying the ancient Romans and Egyptians. Aside from pursuing my passion for writing about history, I am the Deputy Editor for Royal Central. I am also an avid reader who believes you can never stop learning! On any weekend in the fall, you can find me watching college football (American football) and cheering on my Tennessee Volunteers! You can contact me on Twitter @brittani_91 .

4 Comments

  1. Toni certainly converted to Islam in April 1961, as noted by King Hussein when he commented about the marriage. The fact that she was not noble (and British) drew a lot of criticism toward the King and his decision to marry her. She did not take the name Muna. It was suggested by Hussein when she converted. The name means Heart’s desire of Hussein. The king acknowledged the criticism toward his choice, and gave in to the political and critical pressure when he announced that Muna would not be Queen of Jordan. The Prime Minister at the time stated that she would be styled as Sahibat al Sown wa al Isma, which translated to “professor of honor and grace.” This meant she was known as Her Gracious Ladyship. At the time of the marriage, the king told the Prime Minister that Mina sought no titles nor position. Political problems led to the King sending their children to England in June 1970. Muna followed. There were also marital problems (he was unfaithful.) The announcement of the divorce came at the same time of the announcement on 12-24-1972 that Hussein married Alia Toukan, who was named Queen. Hussein divorced Muna. She had no right to contest the divorce. It was learned a few days after his third marriage that she received custody of the four kids and a palace in Jordan. Husssein had met Alia in September 1972, and was soon seen in public with her even though he was still married to Muna. Abudullah was Crown Prince from birth until 1965 when Hussein named his brother, Hassan as Crown Prince, a position he held until only a few days before Hussein’s death when Hussein named Abdullah as his heir.

  2. Hello. Well researched thank you. However, technically Abdullah did not become Crown Prince until a short time before King Hussein died in 1999. His uncle, who had been crown prince up until then, was ousted. Quite a houpla then …

  3. Princess Muna has always been a fine and lovely lady and continues to do good work that benefits many in the medical services and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.