7 things about Jordan's Queen Rania, whose rebuttal to controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoon went viral

Queen Rania at a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels.
Queen Rania at a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels. PHOTO: REUTERS

Queen Rania, the wife of King Abdullah of Jordan, is in the spotlight for standing up to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's controversial depiction of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee toddler whose lifeless body was found on a Turkish beach last year.

 

The 45-year-old's Facebook post on Saturday (Jan 16), which contained a rebuttal in the form of a cartoon strip, went viral and had netizens praising her for being a class act.

Here's more about Jordan's elegant leading lady.

1. She once worked at Apple


Queen Rania arriving for a meeting with European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker at the EU headquarters. PHOTO: EPA

Born Rania Al-Yassin in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, Queen Rania received a degree in business administration from the American University in Cairo before joining her parents - who had fled Kuwait during the first Gulf War - in Jordan.

Her first job was a marketing position at Citibank, before accepting another marketing job at Apple's (then known as Apple Computer) Amman office.

It was at a party, thrown by the sister of King Abdullah (who was still a prince then), while accompanying an Apple co-worker in January 1993 where she was to meet her husband-to-be.

2. 'Love at first sight'


Queen Rania with King Abdullah at a lunch meeting at the Royal Palace in Madrid. PHOTO: REUTERS

The pair got engaged barely two months after falling in love at the party, and married in a lavish ceremony in June 1993 - two months before Queen Rania turned 23.

Eight years her senior, King Abdullah is also the first king of Jordan who has never had more than one wife.

3. Mother to four children


Queen Rania with her husband and four children. PHOTO: QUEENRANIA.JO

Crown Prince Hussein, the couple's oldest child, is 21 and has been the heir apparent to the throne since 2004.

He has three younger siblings - Princess Iman, 19; Princess Salma, 15, and Prince Hashem, 15, who shares the same birthday (Jan 30) with his father.

4. Power and beauty


Queen Rania at a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis. PHOTO: EPA

While famed for her beauty and sartorial savvy as an international fashion icon, Queen Rania is also known as a powerful advocate of causes such as public education, empowering communities and bridging the cross-cultural gap between Western countries and the Arab world.

Besides consistently being named in Forbes' annual list of the world's 100 Most Powerful Women, she has also been listed by People magazine as one of the most beautiful.


Queen Rania with Spanish Queen Letizia at the Center of Molecular Biology in Madrid. PHOTO: AFP

In recognition of her work, she has received over 20 awards and four honorary doctorates. Among other roles, she sits on the board of the Foundation for International Community Assistance (a non-profit organisation dedicated to alleviating poverty) and is responsible for several initiatives back in Jordan, such as the Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education, an annual teaching award.

5. Best-selling author


The four children's books written by Queen Rania. PHOTO: QUEENRANIA.JO

Royal duties aside, Queen Rania has flexed her literary skills by writing four children's books. Her first, The King's Gift, was a tribute to her husband's father King Hussein on the first anniversary of his death. The second, Eternal Beauty, celebrates Mother's Day, while the third - the story of a young girl's quest to get an education - was Maha Of The Mountains.

Her most recent work, co-authored with well-known children's book Kelly DiPucchio, is about two best friends who overcome their differences. It was apparently inspired by her own childhood experiences.

The Sandwich Swap was published in April 2010 and made it to the top of the New York Times' bestseller list for children's books the following month.

6. Queen of social media?


Queen Rania with her family at lunch. PHOTO: QUEENRANIA/INSTAGRAM

The Queen is an influential and active presence on most major social media platforms, having amassed more than 5.5 million followers on Facebook. On her Twitter account, which has over 4.4 million followers, she describes herself as "a mum and a wife with a really cool day job".

Her Instagram account, with 1.3 million followers, is filled with intimate snaps of her family.

She created her own YouTube channel in 2008, which she had aimed at engaging Western viewers in an attempt to change their perceptions of the Arab world. Her debut YouTube video, discussing stereotypes, has since garnered more than 1.8 million views.

7. Just like a regular mum


Queen Rania with younger son Hashem, seen here studying for his exams. PHOTO: QUEENRANIA/INSTAGRAM

According to TV host Oprah Winfrey, who interviewed Queen Rania after The Sandwich Swap hit bookstores, she is known to make a mean chocolate chip cookie.

She also confessed on the show that she never thinks of herself as a queen and that 80 per cent of her life is "like any other mother" who worries about her husband and how her children are doing at school.

She enjoys reading, running, as well as eating chocolate and peanut butter and jelly.

Sources: Biography.com, Forbes, Queenrania.jo