Truly Fine Series: Queen Rania

There is something arresting about a woman so graceful speaking with such candidness on YouTube (to say nothing of press conferences, college lectures, etc). Queen Rania of Jordan is truly something.

Lest you be confused by the inheritance system at work here, here’s the skinny:

Lisa Najeeb Halaby meets King Hussein in the mid-1970s, because she is an architect for the Amman Continental Airport. They marry in 1978; Lisa changes her name to Noor, the Arabic word for light. She becomes his fourth wife. (No, he did not have several wives at one time – he was married and divorced just like any American man.)

Queen Noor becomes the step-mother to King Hussein’s seven existing children, and they also have four of their own.

Flash forward a couple of decades. King Hussein dies in 1999. Before his death, King Hussein decides the crown will be passed to his eldest son, Abdullah, who is not Queen Noor’s son, but the son of Hussein’s second wife, HRH Princess Muna al-Hussein. Allegedly, there’s a little dust up about this – Queen Noor wanted her own son, of course, to be named to the throne – but she denies it in her autobiography.

Abdullah, now King Abdullah, is already married to Rania – they met in at a dinner party in 1993, and have already been married for five years by the time King Hussein dies and passes the crown (unexpectedly) onto Abdullah. Suddenly, Rania is automatically the reigning Queen.

And ya’ll, she is a bad-ass. She is neither a gunslinger, like American politicians are sometimes referred to, nor a knife-fighter like Hillary Clinton – she is grace personified. She is simply and most deservedly The Queen. She does not sit back and live the Queenly life; she is never idle.

She advocates micro-funds for women to start their own businesses and become financially solvent. She is a Board Member at FINCA. She is on the Board of Directors at the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims. And on, and on.

“In my mind,” she says, “Poverty is a she.”

Most notably, however, she’s launched a YouTube campaign to try and bridge the gap between cultures and foster discussion about our commonalities. (Example: Difference between a nun who wears a habit and a Muslim woman who wears a head-scarf? Not much.) She invites people to ask her direct questions relating to women, the Middle East, politics, religion, etc, and then not only does she answer them, but she also invites other YouTube users of all nationalities to pitch in and talk about their own struggles and cultures.

She also enlists the help of Maz Jobrani, Dean Obeidallah, and several others (remember the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour from Comedy Central?)

“I am moved by the image of a reverse domino effect in women’s empowerment,” she says. “Instead of falling because of being pushed down, every woman lifts another up and passes the gift of strength on.”

And, of course, on top of this, she’s gorgeous, dresses beautifully, and is always perfectly poised. Diana Vreeland and Jackie Kennedy would be proud.

To find out more about Queen Rania, you can visit:

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