If you are an internationally renowned journalist working for respectable media outlets such as BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, United Press International, and Radio Monte Carlo, if you have an outstanding career and the freedom to be whoever you want to be…. would you give it all up to become a princess? Probably this is a complicated question, and it can have as many answers as people whom we ask. But it seemed it was a question very much on the mind of Miss Rym Brahimi in 2003 when as CNN War Correspondent in Baghdad she met no other than Prince Ali of Jordan during official briefings on the Iraq war situation. It was a meeting that would change both their lives.
Born in Cairo, in 1968, Rym spent her childhood years moving around several capital cities because of her father, veteran Algerian diplomat, Foreign Minister and UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, getting a first taste of diplomacy and politics right in the living room of her parents’ home. Later on, she would recall: “My parents had a lot of journalist friends, and they would come over at the house, and they always had those incredible stories of historical events they’d covered and things they’d seen”. The little girl was fascinated and wanted to be one of those people travelling the world and telling stories.
After a BA from the Sorbonne, and an MA from Sciences Po in Paris, Rym also got a master’s from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and began working for different news organisations. And opportunities to tell great stories – exactly as she dreamed – were suddenly everywhere. In Iraq, she worked as a CNN producer and reporter for two years before the war broke out in 2003, Rym got her first taste of conflict coverage. An experience of a lifetime. Asked how she felt, she replied: “I was definitely scared. I thought the main war would be quick, but I did think it would drag on with minor conflicts going on. I didn’t think to that scale.” But it all came to an end when in the early stages of the war, Rym and her CNN colleague Nic Robertson were expelled from Iraq and had to go to Jordan.
In Amman, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, King Abdallah II of Jordan‘s half-brother, who then commanded the royal guard, asked to meet the CNN staff to get an understanding of the situation on the ground in Iraq. And the rest is… History.
Rym Brahimi and Prince Ali married in 2004 and her only official declaration was: “A very unexpected outcome of my being kicked out of Iraq”. She became Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Ali of Jordan and in the following years, the marriage – a happy one apparently – produced two children: Princess Jalila bint Ali and Prince Abdullah bin Ali. Rym faced the same challenge all career women who marry into royalty face (examples that come to mind, Queen Letizia of Spain, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the Duchess of Sussex): to build a meaningful work life within the constraints of their royal roles. But it seems Rym found her way: she has been the Executive Commissioner of the Royal Film Commission – Jordan since 2006, and she is also the founder of the Jordan Media Institute (JMI), a non-profit body whose aim is to establish an Arab Center of Excellence for Journalism Education with a Masters’ programme at its core.
As a member of the Jordanian royal family, she constantly undertakes official representation activities in Jordan and abroad and she enjoys the appreciation of her family and the public at large.
Her story is an example of how choices of the heart need courage and wisdom. And re-inventing oneself is the sign of intelligent women who happen to become princesses by a play of destiny.