September 25, 2021, 8:16

    London office worker became royalty after marrying Middle Eastern king

    London office worker became royalty after marrying Middle Eastern king

    Britain has a widely unknown royal princess – a London office worker who wooed the King of Jordan.

    Antoinette Avril Gardiner, known as “Toni”, was born in 1941 in the village of Chelmondiston in Suffolk, to Lieutenant Colonel Walter Gardiner, who was in the British Army and based abroad in Malaysia.

    She attended Bourne School in Kuala Lumpur, where it is said she excelled at field hockey, but her school was shut down when Britain decided to close down its offices in the country, and her family were sent back to the UK.

    Aged 19, she accompanied her father to his new station in Jordan where she quickly landed herself a job at Jordan Radio before taking on a secretarial role at a film production company called Horizon.

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    She met her future husband King Hussain on the set of Lawrence of Arabia in Jordan
    (

    Image:
    PA)

    Antoinette Avril Gardiner, known as “Toni”, was born in 1941 in the village of Chelmondiston in Suffolk
    (

    Image:
    Central Press Photo)

    The Horizon team were in Jordan to shoot what would later become a Hollywood all-time classic, Lawrence of Arabia.

    As part of the movie, Jordan’s King Hussein gave permission for some Jordanian servicemen to take up roles as extras.

    He would regularly attend the set to check up on how his soldiers were doing.

    On one occasion, the film crew threw a fancy-dress party, which the king attended dressed as a pirate.

    It was there that Toni saw him and said the words that won his heart. “It makes you look rather scruffy, Your Majesty,” she said with a cheeky smile.

    It was there that Toni saw him and said the words that won his heart. “It makes you look rather scruffy, Your Majesty,” she said with a cheeky smile
    (

    Image:
    PA)

    The king had actually just come out of a divorce from his ex-wife, Queen Dina, and was said to be feeling terribly lonely and was looking for love.

    King Hussein was also a keen Anglophile, so he naturally fell in love with Toni as soon as he laid eyes on her.

    Regarding his first meeting with his wife-to-be, the king later wrote: “For the first time in my life, here was a girl who took an interest in me as a human being and not as a King.”

    The couple were soon wed, and Toni changed her name to Princess Muna al-Hussein.

    Nowadays, even at the age of 80, Princess Muna can be found pursuing her passion of nursing in the Middle East
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    Image:
    ABACA/PA Images)

    She founded the Princess Muna College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and the Princess Muna Scholarship Fund for Nursing
    (

    Image:
    Rex Features)

    Many speculate that the name change came as part of her conversion to Islam.

    After all, it was unconstitutional at the time for the king of Jordan to marry a non-Muslim woman. Others, however, believe that she didn’t change her religion, hence the reason for her only taking the title of Princess rather than Queen.

    To this day, her religious affiliation is somewhat ambiguous.

    The young English bride bore four children for the king, the first being Abdullah in 1962, then Faisal in 1963, and finally she gave birth to twins Aisha and Zein.

    As the eldest of King Hussein’s sons, Abdullah was granted the title of Crown Prince and eventually became the new king of Jordan upon his father’s passing.

    The young English bride bore four children for the king, the first being Abdullah in 1962, then Faisal in 1963, and finally she gave birth to twins Aisha and Zein
    (

    Image:
    Rex Features)

    King Abdullah II, being half English and having received his education in Sandhurst, always struggled with Arabic and spoke English as his first language. He is therefore often referred to today as the “English king from the desert”.

    But things weren’t always so easy for Toni a.k.a. Muna.

    Her son Abdullah was briefly stripped of his Crown Prince title due to instability in the country.

    According to the Jordanian constitution, the country’s ruling monarch must be born to Muslim parents.

    With doubts about his mother’s conversion still lingering, King Faisal tweaked the constitution in order to allow him to name his younger brother Hassan as his heir. This decision was later changed again to allow Abdullah to reclaim his title.

    Princess Muna (Toni) also had to endure a bitter divorce from her husband of 10 years in 1971 after he decided to marry again while still being wed to her
    (

    Image:
    Collect)

    Princess Muna (Toni) also had to endure a bitter divorce from her husband of 10 years in 1971 after he decided to marry again while still being wed to her.

    However, King Hussein amicably allowed her to keep her royal title while relieving her from many of the responsibilities associated with it.

    At that point, she had the choice of returning to the UK, but she chose to stay in Jordan and be close to her children.

    In later years, she had to heed off an attempt by another wife of the king, American-born Lisa Halaby, who pressed King Hussein to name her son Hamzah as Crown Prince.

    Unlike Abdullah’s mother, Hamzah’s mother’s conversion to Islam is not in doubt, and she goes by the name Queen Noor. But eventually, it was Abdullah who was crowned king, and by the time of his wedding to Queen Rania in 1993, Muna and Noor had apparently resolved their differences.

    However, King Hussein amicably allowed her to keep her royal title while relieving her of many of the responsibilities associated with it, Pictured in 1962 with a baby Prince Abdullah
    (

    Image:
    EPA)

    Nowadays, even at the age of 80, Princess Muna can be found pursuing her passion of nursing in the Middle East.

    She founded the Princess Muna College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and the Princess Muna Scholarship Fund for Nursing.

    She has also been the President of the Jordanian Nursing Council and the Vice-President of the Royal College of Nursing.

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    Sourse: mirror.co.uk

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