A year after an unprecedented crisis erupted to rock the Hashemite Kingdom, Prince Hamza ben Hussein of Jordan, 41, announced on Sunday that he would renounce his princely title. The former heir to the throne and half-brother of the current ruler, King Abdullah II of Jordan, announced his decision in a letter published on his Twitter account. In particular, he states that his values ”are not consistent with the modern approaches, trends and methods of our institutions”. Statements that sound like a provocation to power, while in April 2021 Prince Hamza was accused of involvement in a foreign-inspired plot to destabilize the monarchy. At the time, he had denied everything while under house arrest and accused the authorities of his country of “corruption” and “incompetence” in a video that his lawyer sent to the BBC. And even though the royal palace assured his uncle, Prince Hassan, shortly thereafter, at the end of a mediation mission, that Prince Hamza had promised “to the heir of (his) ancestors, His Majesty (King Abdallah II) and to his crown prince,” the fracture completed. Appointed crown prince in 1999 but dismissed in 2004 by King Abdullah II, who appointed his own son instead, several observers suggested at the time that Prince Hamza would never have forgiven his half-brother for stripping him of the dolphin title. His latest decision comes less than a month after Prince Hamza sent a letter of apology to the sovereign admitting he had made “a mistake” in criticizing the government. Amer al-Sabaileh, a Jordanian scholar and geopolitical analyst, observes the problems behind these events for L’Orient-Le Jour.
How to explain the timing of the decision announced by Prince Hamza on Sunday?
Prince Hamza’s decision came on the first day of Ramadan in Jordan, which is generally a day of family reunification and reconciliation in the Islamic world. So the decision has something to do with this date and with the symbolism of the message. Most Jordanians thought the matter was closed, especially with Prince Hamza’s letter of apology last month.
What could be the reasons behind this decision? How far has Prince Hamza made it alone?
This is certainly a personal initiative as he announced his decision on his personal Twitter account and not through official communications or royal court channels. The decision to relinquish the title is not a trivial step as it is the king who has the ability to bestow or revoke that title on someone. It’s a protest of sorts, and Prince Hamza’s letter somehow tries to hide or embed a criticism of the policy and system. In a way, it’s a repeat of the old narrative from his video released last year, which attempts to divide Jordan into chapters: that of his father, the late King Hussein, to whom Hamza belongs, and that of the new Jordan, to which he politically does not belong .
Can this decision allow him to regain his freedom of movement?
It’s a bit difficult because Prince Hamza wasn’t put on trial because he’s a member of the royal family. The company was to remain family-owned, as required by royal decree at the time. If his decision to relinquish the title were approved, it would mean the prince would become an ordinary citizen and he could be impeached. Ultimately, giving up the title won’t free him.
What consequences can this decision have for the royal family and for the kingdom in general?
This is the first time in Jordan’s history that something like this has happened, although it was handled within the family last year. Abandoning a title in this way, with direct criticism addressed in his old video and in his most recent letter, will have some implication. It shows the case hasn’t been well contained and is caught in a snowball effect that keeps things moving. Unfortunately, such an attitude has negative repercussions at all levels within the family, on the relationships between its members, and on the way the family is perceived locally and globally. The case does indeed have international ramifications as Jordan has been somewhat under the scrutiny of the international community and press for the past year. With Prince Hamza’s recent decision, it’s as if the case hasn’t been solved and we’ve gone back a year.
A year after an unprecedented crisis erupted to rock the Hashemite Kingdom, Prince Hamza ben Hussein of Jordan, 41, announced on Sunday that he would renounce his princely title. The former heir to the throne and half-brother of the current ruler, King Abdullah II of Jordan, announced his decision in a letter published on his Twitter account. He explains…