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The World: Royal Rumor

2 minute read

Radio Amman chose the occasion of King Hussein’s 37th birthday last week to issue a rather odd disclaimer. “Certain information media have linked the name of His Majesty to the name of Miss Alia Bahaeddin Toukan,” declared a laconic announcer. It was true, he continued, that the King had known Miss Toukan since his school days and had a high regard for her and her family. Nonetheless, there was “no room for certain news that has been circulated outside this framework.”

The announcement was peculiar for two reasons. In the first place, not a single newspaper in the Arab world had published any gossip linking Jordan’s monarch to Miss Toukan. Moreover, since the lady in question is only about 20, any relationship the King had with her during his school days must have been decidedly avuncular. The rumors began six weeks ago after a water-skiing show at the resort town of Aqaba, where Miss Toukan acted as a Royal Jordanian Airlines hostess and Hussein, towed by helicopter, did a water-ski performance.

The inadvertent effect of Radio Amman’s announcement was to give credence to rumors that Hussein was thinking of divorcing his second wife Muna, 31, the daughter of a British army officer. So far the Toukan family, one of the country’s most distinguished, has said nothing about the rumors; Alia, an attractive blonde, was reportedly off on a shopping expedition to Paris with her mother. Some friends of the King were not enthusiastic about the possibility of another royal marriage just now. But then, they noted philosophically, when it comes to women, the King always keeps his own counsel.

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