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From outsider to national hero: Jordan's Queen Rania rides new wave of popularity with Israel critique

Queen Rania's sharp criticism of Israel in international media and on social media has revamped her image in the kingdom; previously seen as pretentious and self-serving, her popularity has now surged; years of disdain have shifted, with less concern over her Palestinian heritage
Smadar Perry, Lior Ben Ari|
For years, Queen Rania of Jordan was considered an unpopular figure within her country, to say the least.
4 View gallery
ראניה מלכת ירדן ב גמר גביע אסיה אליפות אסיה ב כדורגל ירדן מול קטאר
ראניה מלכת ירדן ב גמר גביע אסיה אליפות אסיה ב כדורגל ירדן מול קטאר
Queen Rania of Jordan in Asian Cup final against Qatar
Tribal leaders, loyal to her husband King Abdullah, implored him to divorce his wife of Palestinian extraction and marry "one of our own."
At the Jordanian national soccer team’s matches, fans would chant "kick her out" after the players have scored a goal, without explicitly naming the queen.
Criticism spread quietly regarding her lavish expenditures, her collection of high-end fashion and her choice to charter a private jet to Beirut for the royal laundry “because there is no professional laundry service in Amman."
Rumors also circulated about her involvement in the corruption of the regime, including large sums of money finding their way to her brothers' bank accounts while the living standards of millions in the kingdom continued to decline.
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ירדן המלכה רניה ראניה רוקדת ב חנה של כלתה רג'ווה לקראת ה חתונה עם ה נסיך חוסיין
ירדן המלכה רניה ראניה רוקדת ב חנה של כלתה רג'ווה לקראת ה חתונה עם ה נסיך חוסיין
Queen Rania at her son Crown Prince Hussein's wedding
(Photo: AFP PHOTO / Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah)
Only in the past year, Queen Rania orchestrated opulent weddings for two of her children—Crown Prince Hussein and Princess Iman. President Isaac Herzog, who maintained warm relations with the palace, sent a valuable gift in advance, though he did not receive an invitation.
These events, aligning with a longstanding sentiment in the kingdom that Palestinians in the country are in a better economic position than the "native" Jordanians, did not enhance her public image. Neither her efforts to appear among the common people nor her leadership in social projects, such as one facilitating the enrollment of children from low-income families in private schools at the state's expense, ameliorated her standing.
But in recent months, something in the attitude toward her has changed, undoubtedly stemming from Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Rania leverages her immense popularity on social media and the demand for interviews with her in the international press to sharply criticize Israel at every turn. This stance deeply resonance with the public in Jordan.
This week, dressed in khaki military attire at the Royal Air Force base, she gave an interview to CNN in which she said that the Palestinians in Gaza have experienced the equivalent of the October 7 massacre 156 times since the outbreak of the war.
This statement was representative of her stance: a sharp criticism of Israel, aligning not only with the position of the Palestinians who constitute about a third of Jordan's population but also with the sentiment of the entire nation.

A headline machine for CNN

Rania Faisal Yassin was born in 1970 in Kuwait to Jordanian parents of Palestinian descent (her father's family from Tulkarm and her mother's from Nablus). She spent her childhood in Kuwait before her family returned to live in Jordan.
She met Prince Abdullah in 1993, and they married that same year, which made her "Princess Rania."
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ראניה בתמונה יחד עם בעלה עבדאללה
ראניה בתמונה יחד עם בעלה עבדאללה
Queen Rania with her husband King Abdullah
(Photo: GettyImages)
Following the death of King Hussein in 1999, Abdullah ascended to the throne, and she became queen. The couple has four children: Crown Prince Hussein, Princesses Iman, Princesses Salma (who recently participated in a humanitarian airdrop in Gaza) and Prince Hashem.
She is highly active on social media, boasting some ten million followers on her Instagram account and a similar number on X.
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מלכת ירדן ראניה
מלכת ירדן ראניה
Queen Rania of Jordan
(Photo: EPA)
Generally, she downplays her Palestinian heritage, but regardless, since the onset of the war, she has been posting numerous videos in support of the residents of the Gaza Strip, calling for an immediate end to the war.
On International Education Day, celebrated each year globally on January 24, she uploaded with the caption "Not a single child in Gaza is in school today. Instead of math, science, and art, Gazan children are learning that the world is indifferent to their suffering.”
In her interviews with international media, she makes it a point to speak in broad strokes without delving into details. According to her, all residents of Gaza currently lack electricity, water or food. She asserts that it is imperative to halt the atrocities committed by Israel, end the war and advance toward a two-state solution.
In another interview with CNN, shortly after the outbreak of the war, she questioned the credibility of the documentation and reports on the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists and other Gazans who infiltrated the western Negev settlements on October 7.
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Against this backdrop, there's a noticeable surge in Queen Rania's stature and popularity as the voice of humanity within the royal palace, while her husband remains bound to express himself diplomatically (joined by Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, arguably the most vociferous Jordanian politician in his criticism of Israel).
The firm stance both exhibit primarily stems from solidarity with the Palestinians, but there's an additional reason: with a right-wing government in power in Israel, Jordanians fear it might push Palestinians from the West Bank into Jordan, much as Egyptians fear the pushing of Gazans into the Sinai Peninsula.
Queen Rania has not directly commented on this issue, but this concern hovers over her remarks as it does over every other issue in Israeli-Jordanian relations.
As long as the war continues, it remains unclear how and if relations between the two nations will be restored. Some consolation can be drawn from Jordan's continued efforts to prevent the infiltration of terrorist cells into Israel.
Moreover, years of experience suggest that a moment may yet arrive when reconciliation between the leaders is signaled, and Queen Rania could appear on CNN to share that "now I am more at ease."
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