Death and state funeral of King Hussein
The state funeral of King Hussein took place in Amman on 8 February 1999. He was pronounced dead on 7 February 1999 at 11:43 am. The funeral was the largest gathering of royalty and world leaders since 1995.
It was made public that King Hussein was diagnosed lymphatic cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in July 1998. Hussein's lymphoma was of a type that responded to chemotherapy, which the King had already begun and his physicians were optimistic he could be cured. On his way back to Jordan in January 1999 after six months of treatment in the US, Hussein stopped in London. Doctors advised him to rest and stay in England for a few weeks, as he was still too fragile to travel. According to Jordanian government sources, Hussein stated that:
“I need very much to feel the warmth of my people around me, there is work to be done and I will get the strength from my people to finish the business.“
Upon returning to Jordan, Hussein was greeted by family members, ministers, parliament members, foreign dignitaries and a crowd of Jordanian citizens, estimated by Jordanian government officials of 2 million. King Hussein spent just six days in Jordan, before being rushed back to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on 25 January 1999, after a relapse. He abruptly returned for further treatment undergoing a failed bone marrow transplant.
Doctors at his US clinic said that the king suffered internal organ failure following an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, "The king is in agony. He is being kept alive by artificial means. There is no more hope," an official told the Agence France-Presse news agency. The king had returned home critically ill after the failure of his latest cancer treatment. Upon arrival he was immediately taken by helicopter to an intensive care unit at the King Hussein Medical Center, west of Amman. He was later reported to be in a coma and on a life support machine after his organs failed. Outside the King Hussein Medical Center, wails of grief rose up in a crowd of Jordanians who had maintained a vigil there since the king's return. Men wearing the Keffiyeh checkered headdresses favored by Jordanians wrapped their scarves across their faces in a sign of mourning. The palace sources said King Hussein's family had decided not to switch off his life support machine, preferring to let him die naturally. Jordanian television said in a news bulletin on Friday night that King Hussein was still under intensive care. The TV announcers are wearing black and the station is broadcasting programmes about the king's life. King Hussein’s heart stopped on 7 February 1999 at 11:43. Queen Noor and four of his five sons were at his side. His eldest son, Abdullah who was recently named Crown Prince on 24 January 1999, was called to the hospital and, after his arrival, the king was removed from the respirator and pronounced dead. The death of King Hussein was announced in the local Arabic TV by a presenter "Believing in God's will and with deep sorrow, the cabinet tells the Jordanian people and all our brothers in the Muslim world, and all our friends around the world, of the death of the dearest among men, His Hashemite Majesty, King Hussein Bin Talal the Great, king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, dean of the House of the Prophet, whom God has chosen to be next to him and who passed to heaven at 11:43. The cabinet asks that God will be compassionate with His Majesty and that He will give him a place among those He loves. Verily we belong to God, and to God we return.
A few hours after Hussein's death was announced, Abdullah went before a hastily called session of the National Assembly. Wearing a traditional red-and-white-checked Keffiyeh, a stoic Abdullah strode into the chamber to subdued applause from senators and congressmen, some of whom wept. King Hussein's two siblings, Prince Hassan and ailing older brother Prince Mohammed, preceded Abdullah. The heir stood straight in front of a portrait of Hussein, hands tightly clenched at his sides in an at-attention salute that drew more applause. King Abdullah II then recited the oath his father took nearly five decades earlier; "I swear by Almighty God to uphold the constitution and be faithful to the nation". Zaid al-Rifai, speaker of the House of Notables (Senate), opened the session with Al-Fatiha, a prayer for the dead. his voice cracked with emotion as he led the recitation. "God save his majesty," "God give him advice and take care of him."
The flag-draped coffin carrying the body of King Hussein accompanied by honor guard troops wearing Keffiyeh were taken on a 90-minute procession through the streets of the capital city of Amman. An estimated 800,000 Jordanians, many of them weeping, braved chilly winds to bid their leader farewell. Riot police were stationed along the nine-mile-long route to try to hold back the crowds who scrambled for a glimpse of the coffin. Upon arrival at Raghadan Palace, the new king, Hussein's eldest son, Abdullah, and the royal princes formally received the coffin. Queen Noor stood in a doorway surrounded by other royal women dressed in mourning black with white scarves. In a courtyard of Raghdan Palace, so many leaders and dignitaries flocked to Jordan to pay their last respects, Inside, where the late king lay in state, surrounded by four Circassian guards in lamb's wool hats and black coats, the dignitaries entered the room one by one to pause before his coffin, each according to his traditions. Bagpipes played as the casket was taken from the palace to a mosque on an artillery carriage. A riderless white stallion with a pair of empty boots reversed in its stirrups favored by the king trotted behind. Prayers at the mosque were attended only by Muslims, while many of the world leaders waited outside. At the royal cemetery beneath a green canopy, Hussein's body, dressed in a simple white shroud, was removed from the coffin and placed in a grave near those of King Hussein's father, Talal, and his grandfather, Abdullah I. The new king carefully laid his father's face to one side in rest and passages from the Quran were read. Finally trumpets sounded the Last Post and a military bugler played. Attending guards fired a salute. The new king kept a stern face, although relatives around him wept. Queen Noor watched from the gates of the cemetery as the king was buried. On the date of his death on 7 February 1999, King Hussein was the longest-serving executive head of state in the world.
Hundreds of dignitaries attended the funeral in the largest gathering of world leaders since the 1995 funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. President Bill Clinton and the former presidents George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford represented the United States. Hamas was present with several representatives. The Czech president Václav Havel and the Russian president Boris Yeltsin, attended despite being unwell. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his wife participated as well as the European Union’s Jacques Santer. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the Israeli delegation, including Chief Rabbi Yesrael Lau and a representative of the families of seven teenage girls killed by a Jordanian soldier in 1997. Egypt was represented by leading political figures, including president Hosni Mubarak and prime minister Kamal Ganzouri. The funeral also brought together enemies, including the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Nayef Hawatmeh, who approached the Israeli president Ezer Weizman, praised him as a man of peace and shook his hand. It was the first time that Syrian president Hafez al-Assad and Benjamin Netanyahu were together in same place, though they did not meet. Other dignitaries, included: Iraqi Vice-President Taha Marouf, King Albert II of Belgium, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Emir of Bahrain (who died less than a month later), Khalifa ibn Salman Al Khalifa the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Ahmed Abdel Megid, Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, William Hague, Tony Blair, Paddy Ashdown, Krishan Kant, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Shamir, Leah Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Yitzhak Mordechai, Efraim Halevy, Salah Tarif, Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, Yisrael Meir Lau, Taleb el-Sana, Abdulmalik Dehamshe, Ahmad Tibi, Liamine Zéroual, Thomas Klestil, Veselin Metodiev, Lloyd Axworthy, Haris Silajdžić, Glafcos Clerides, Ioannis Kasoulidis, Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Aga Khan IV, Jacques Chirac, Bernard Kouchner, Gerhard Schröder, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, ex King Constantine II of Greece, Mary McAleese, Michael Woods, Jasim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani the crown prince of Qatar, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, Keizō Obuchi, Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah crown prince and prime minister of Kuwait, Michel Murr, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte of Luxembourg, Jacques Poos, Guido de Marco, Hamed Karoui, Sultan Qaboos of Oman, Yusuf bin Alawi, Badr Al Busaidi, Farouk al-Sharaa, Abdul Halim Khaddam, Yaser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qurei, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Khaled Mashal, Omar al-Bashir, Mustafa Osman, Ghazi Al Atabani, Lam Akol, Swar Al Dahab, Hans van den Broek, Igor Ivanov, Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj Aziz, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Infante Felipe, The Prince of Asturias, Infanta Elena of Spain, Infanta Cristina of Spain, Ali Saleh, James Wolfensohn, Crown Prince Regent Mohammed VI of Morocco (who became King 5 months later), Ben Gilman, David Bonior, Ted Stevens, Patrick Leahy, Sandy Berger, Dennis Ross, Thomas Pickering, Martin Indyk, Najeeb Halaby, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Süleyman Demirel, İsmail Cem, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum the crown prince of Dubai, Mohammad bin Zayed, Abdullah bin Zayed, Mohammed Bin Kharbash, Wim Kok, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Bronisław Geremek, Emil Constantinescu, Andrei Pleşu, Adolf Ogi, Momir Bulatović, Kim Jong-pil, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Al-Saadi Gaddafi, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, Queen Anak Saleha of Brunei, Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah of Brunei, Prince Regent Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Abdul-Aziz bin Abdullah, Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Ermias Sahle Selassie, King Harald V of Norway, Jason Hu, Vartan Oskanian, Goh Chok Tong, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Cheikh El Avia, Taiwan (ROC) Foreign Minister Jason Hu, and Jackie Stewart.
The Government of Jordan announced 3 days of official mourning, during which all business would be halted, and then three months of customary national mourning. India observed national mourning in memory of King Hussein of Jordan. The Indian Tricolour atop government buildings flew at half-mast as a mark of respect to the departed leader. The Government of Israel convened on 7 February 1999, in special session, after learning of the death of King Hussein. At the meeting, in accordance with the proposal of the Prime Minister, it was decided that all Israeli Government offices will lower their flags to half-mast during the King's funeral The Government of Egypt has declared three days of official mourning. The Government of Algeria announced three days of official mourning. The Government of Kuwait declared two days of mourning. The United Arab Emirates declared a 40-day period of mourning, with government offices closed for three days. The Union Flag at Buckingham Palace was being flown at half-mast on Sunday 7 February 1999 and for the funeral. The Government of Oman declared 3 days of official mourning, flags were being flown at half-mast. The Palestinian National Authority declared 3 days of national mourning. The Government of Yemen declared 3 days of national mourning. The Government of Syria declared 3 days of official mourning, flags were being flown at half-mast.
He won the respect and admiration of the entire world and so did his beloved Jordan. He is a man who believed that we are all God's children, bound to live together in mutual respect and tolerance. (US President, Bill Clinton) He was an extraordinary and immensely charismatic persuader for peace. At the peace talks in America when he was extremely ill, he was there, talking to both sides, urging them forward, telling them nothing must stand in the way of peace. (UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair) A brave soldier who fought for peace (Israeli President, Ezer Weizman) Muslims and non-Muslims alike mourn the passing of a great sovereign and a truly courageous man, whose accomplishments will mark history, and whose example in Islam should be universally emulated (Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, Aga Khan IV) With great sadness we bid farewell to you, king and friend, the peace between our peoples will be a testament to your abiding belief in a lasting peace between the sons of Abraham. Rest in peace, your majesty. (Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu) He was invaluable to the formation of a new image of the Middle East, free of stereotypes of confrontation and enmity. (The Russian President, Boris Yeltsin As soon as you met him, you felt his courage and the greatness in him. A great man, with a great heart and with great modesty. (Leah Rabin, Widow of the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin) He was an Arab leader who dedicated his thoughts and life to the service of his nation's causes. ( The Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak) We are sad for his absence and we hope that King Abdullah will be a good replacement. (The Syrian Foreign Minister, Farouk al-Sharaa) Austria has lost a great friend, whose personal solidarity with our country will always be remembered and appreciated (The Austrian President, Thomas Klestil) The Queen and her family were "deeply saddened.’’ (Buckingham Palace) More than almost any other Arab leader of our time, King Hussein of Jordan has, over the long years of his reign, been a father of his nation, a good friend to Britain and a champion of peace. (Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown). King Hussein was irreplaceable, someone who would have a very distinguished place in history, How can one pay tribute that is adequate? He was a unique person. He had wonderful qualities as well as being a very great monarch. (UK former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher) I am very sorry indeed. I met him on many occasions and admired the skill and statesmanship with which he held Jordan together. (UK former Prime Minister James Callaghan) His death will be an immense loss not only to his own country but to the whole of the Middle East. (UK former Prime Minister Edward Heath) Anglicans worldwide will join the people of Jordan in mourning a man whose absence will be deeply felt wherever men and women of good will are to be found. With them we pray that the goal for which he worked so tirelessly, peace with justice in the Middle East, may be finally achieved. (The Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey) King Hussein was a leader of international prestige, who contributed greatly to all efforts towards finding a solution to the Middle East problem, he was an exceptional figure, who spoke his mind and dealt with matters in such a way that Jordan, despite its many enemies, managed to survive as an independent state. He also contributed greatly to preventing war in the region (The Cypriot President, Glafcos Clerides) The king earned the respect of all his brothers and friends in the Arab world and all those who love peace. (Yasser Arafat's Office) His accomplishments earned Jordan global respect and recognition (German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder) King Hussein succeeded under adverse conditions to make his country a factor of stability in the region and to contribute to the promotion of the peace process (The Greek President, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos) Humanity mourns for the loss of a historic personality. King Hussein played an important role in the Middle East and achieved with his policy, during his long reign, to secure the viability of the state of Jordan in a particularly sensitive and unstable region (The Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis). Major loss, especially at such a crucial point in the Mideast peace process (The Greek Opposition New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis). It is unsettling for the world to lose King Hussein of Jordan. He has been a rock in the turbulent Middle East since 1952, the victim the assassins could not kill, the regime no coup could topple, in a kingdom as small as it was artificial. He was a force for comparative good, usually (not always) a friend of U.S. policy, an Arab leader with whom Israeli prime ministers talked, an autocrat whose fitful concessions to democracy were ahead of other Arab regimes. King Hussein's absence is mentally destabilizing to other players in the Middle East, including Washington, that took his presence for granted. In the next crisis, he will not be there (The Baltimore Sun) A State of Israel Memorial Medal paying tribute to Jordan's King Hussein has been announced by the Israel Coins and Medals Corp.. The obverse features the portrait of King Hussein and the reverse, the flags of Israel and Jordan and inscription "Peace for the Children of Abraham." The medal is to be struck in 14k gold, pure silver, and bronze in limited editions.
The UN General Assembly held an Emergency Special Session in "Tribute to the Memory of His Majesty the King of Jordan" on the same day. Tenth Emergency Special Session11th plenary meetingMonday, 8 February 1999, 3.30 p.m.New York
The world was shaken by the wrenching news of the death of one of the great public figures of this century, His Majesty King Hussein. The Arab nation and the entire world have lost a figure of exceptional virtues. His wisdom, courage and generosity of spirit enabled him to make an extraordinary contribution to his country and to the cause of peace in the turbulent region in which it was his lot to be born, to live and to reign. During his reign of more than 40 years, King Hussein was an inspiring and guiding spirit for the forces that were striving for security and stability in his region, as well as in the rest of the world. As a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, of the forty-second generation, the King was admired as an ardent defender of the faith and for the important role that he played in the unification and consolidation of the modern Jordanian State. The presidency of the General Assembly expresses its deepest solidarity to the people and the Government of Jordan in connection with such a grievous loss.
On behalf of the group of African states Although the long illness of King Hussein of Jordan and his sudden return to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota had prepared us for the worst, his passing caused shock and consternation throughout the world. Indeed, how could it be otherwise in view of the decisive and commendable role he played in the Middle East in general and in building the Jordanian nation in particular, despite the successive upheavals that shook that region. King Hussein distinguished himself throughout almost five decades by his Pan-Arabism and his talent for promoting dialogue and cooperation despite an often less-than-conducive environment. On behalf of the Group of African States, I wish to express to the Hashemite royal family and to the Government and the valiant people of Jordan our deepest condolences and our full solidarity with them at this time of intense grief.
On behalf of the Group of Asian States King Hussein went past hatred and intolerance. He ignored the threat of death and, most recently, overcame his own pain, all for the cause of peace. King Hussein was a key force in the Middle East peace process. Through his efforts, he made peace less elusive and closer to reality. And when, and not if, that peace comes, it shall shine brightly and resonate with the wisdom, courage, dedication and sacrifices of men like King Hussein. His legacy of peace will live forever. On behalf of the Group of Asian States, I should like to convey to the family of King Hussein and to the leadership and people of Jordan our deepest sympathies and our profound and immeasurable sense of loss at the death of one of the greatest advocates of peace we have ever known, His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan.
On behalf of the Group of Eastern European King Hussein contributed greatly to the cause of the United Nations. His contribution went beyond his role as political leader in the Middle East. As a true statesman, he demonstrated his decisive role as a leader in the development of his country, which has become one of the successful developing countries. His commitment to humanitarian causes proved his genuine feeling of responsibility for the universal causes of all mankind. On behalf of the Eastern European Group of States, I wish to pay, at this solemn and sad occasion, tribute to His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan and to express solidarity with the people of Jordan. At this moment of grief, the people of Jordan are not alone. The feelings of solidarity and sympathy of all of us are today with the mourners in Jordan.
On behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group It is noteworthy that King Hussein was cast before the entire world, and therefore also in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as a charismatic leader, a man of good, an extraordinarily courageous personality, a genuine visionary and an apostle of peace. He stood firm in his principles and convictions, which guided him at all times in all his actions. It is tragic that the world has lost a person of the stature of King Hussein Ibn Talal, especially given his relative youth. As he pointed out in his memoirs, however, he was never scared of death, characterizing it as of little importance. The sorrow aroused by his passing is reflected not only in the number and status of those who participated in today's funeral rites, but also in the impact His Majesty had on the common citizen, even in our region, so far removed from the Middle East.
On behalf of the Group of Western European and Other States It is with deep sorrow and profound admiration that I pay tribute to His Royal Majesty, King Hussein of Jordan. His country has lost a brilliant and charismatic leader. His troubled region is bereft of a vitally important force of reason, measure and stability. His family has lost a father, a husband and a brother whose warmth and grace, strength, wisdom and zest for life were manifest. We have all lost a steadfast warrior for peace. On the diplomatic front, King Hussein's impossibly complex calculations were always informed by the long view. His prodigious and comprehensive understanding of his region helped to secure peace for his people and hope for what many still call the Middle East.
On behalf of the Arab Group It is with a saddened heart, trusting in the rule of God, that I convey our condolences and profound grief to the Hashemite family and to the King, people and Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over the death of King Hussein Ibn Talal. We implore our Lord to cover him with mercy and to let his soul rest in peace and to bestow consolation and patience upon his people and family. The stages of his life embodied lofty goals and concepts of wisdom, skill, courage, tolerance and peace. His loss is a tremendous one—not only for the Arab and Islamic nations, but for the whole world. There is no disagreement that he is one of the most prominent political leaders of the twentieth century
One of the finest and most courageous statesmen of this century. King Hussein knew and worked with every American President since Eisenhower and it goes without saying that he won their respect in the process. King Hussein said during the negotiations at Wye River just a few months ago last year that "we have no right to dictate, through irresponsible action or narrow-mindedness, the future of our children and our children's children. President Clinton recalled how the King came into the Wye discussions when they were faltering and said how within a few short minutes he changed the tenor of the meeting
As a past envoy of the Government of Israel to King Hussein, I personally witnessed his empathy and compassion for others. On a personal level I profoundly feel his loss. The Middle East is known for great monuments and memorials, for palaces and pantheons built by kings and national leaders. King Hussein has built the most important monument of all, the monument of Middle East peace. I can say that the Government of Israel is determined to do everything possible to protect this legacy for our region. All of Israel extends its condolences to Her Majesty Queen Noor, His Majesty King Abdullah, the Hashemite royal family and the Jordanian people. Our solidarity and partnership, which was fashioned under the late King Hussein, will continue for generations to come.
With his death we all have lost a monarch and a leader who left to his country and his nation an immense reservoir of accomplishments, accomplishments that history will indubitably remember with appreciation and gratitude. On this sad occasion, I wish on behalf of Egypt—Government and people—to extend to His Majesty King Abdullah, the Hashemite family and the fraternal people of Jordan our deepest condolences on the passing of this great monarch, whose death represents a tremendous loss for Jordan and for the entire Arab world.
The world has lost a wise, perspicacious State leader, someone who played a unique role not only in Middle Eastern politics but also far beyond the region. Russia will always remember that the King himself was at the source of the friendly relations between our two countries. Jordan has entered a time of severe trial, but we know that thanks to the persistent and—it is not an exaggeration to say—the titanic efforts of King Hussein, a foundation has been established that will enable Jordan to greet the new millennium with confidence and to be an active and respected member of the international community. The best tribute to King Hussein would be to establish in the Middle East the firm and just peace which he always sought. As a co-sponsor of the peace process, Russia will spare no effort to attain that goal
As we accept this fated event with faith and contentedness, we must praise the exceptional qualities of the late King Hussein, who was a statesman, a leader, a visionary and a noble and courageous servant of his people and of the Arab world, who served the Palestinian cause and gave much thought and effort to helping us. He was plucky and intrepid in peace-making and strengthened peace in the Middle East. Thus he earned the trust, respect and admiration of all those who cherished peace in our region and in the world. With his departure, in this critical and difficult time of our life, we will miss this clairvoyant and tolerant visionary leader. We are quite sure that under the leadership of King Abdullah, however, our fraternal Jordan will continue to follow in the steps traced by King Hussein
His Majesty King Hussein was not only a king and a leader but also a father to every one of his people, to which he always referred as the larger Jordanian family of all origins and ancestry. No words could accurately describe the sentiments of Jordanians in the face of this very painful loss. We are inspired by our faith in God and by the last television interview given by His Majesty, in which he said that every life has a beginning and an end. Our faith and the sentiments expressed at this meeting by our colleagues the chairmen of the regional groups, as well as the outpouring of sympathy we received here and in Jordan, give us solace in bearing the impact of this tragedy We all saw King Hussein's dedication to the cause of peace. This was clearest when we saw him leave his hospital sickbed to go to Wye River Plantation and work tirelessly with other leaders to reach an agreement. Following the signature of the agreement at Wye River, and looking exhausted, he stated: "If I had one iota of power left, I would use it for the cause of peace
King Hussein's official website World: Middle East Final farewell to King Hussein, BBC Video by BBC of the funeral, C-SPAN