An American girl became a queen yeaterday as 26-year-old Princeton University architecture graduate Lisa Halaby took the name of Noor al Hussein, the faith of Islam and the hand in marriage of King Hussein, ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon.
The new queen's mother was barred from the four-minute ceremony itself - Koranic law dictates that the bride be the only female present - but the new queen beamed radiantly down at her two-inches-shorter, 16-years-older royal husband at a reception afterward attended by some 500 friends and relations. Soft drinks subbed for champagne at the reception, though, as Moslem law again prevailed.
Queen Noor, whom Jordonian officialdom had reffered to earlier as "Moslem Miss Noor Halaby," had converted to her husband's faith. she had been expected to attain the rank of "pricess" because she was not an Arab, but was dubbed his queen by the Jordanian monarch. Only one other of his four wives, the late Queen Alia, a Palestinian, had been so honored.
But Queen Noor's Arab ancestry - her father was of Syrian descent - had been played up by the state-run media since her engagement to the king was announced, and, of course, it is all up to the king as to visit what he wishes to name his wife.
The bride smiling throughout the ceremony and the two-hour reception that followed was dressed in a white Christian Dior wedding gown and had a women band of white flowers holding in her long blond hair in place.
Diamond earrings and bracelets added sparkle to her composure, as she and the king posed for photographers immediately after the wedding ceremony.
Queen Noor - her name means "Light of Hussein" - was visibly settling comfortably into her new role, and she and the king exchanged frequent glances and comments that grinning broadly.
Five hundred guests waited for them on the lawn of the Zahran Palace, home of the queen mother and traditional site of royal marriages. The couple emerged to cut the seventier one-yard-high fruitcake wedding cake with a golden Hashemite sword, and mingled for 10 minutes with the royal family that had gathered to congratulate them.
The casual, happy atmosphere of the occasion was captured decisively when one of the king's young daugthers from a previous marriage rushed up to Queen Noor and exclaimed "I really like your dress," for which she was rewarded with an equally enthusiastic embrace, and a hug and a kiss from the king. Queen Noor had helped design the gown.
The guests included the elite of Jordonian society, the diplomatic corps, government officials, senior officers of the armed forces and selected friends of the new queen. But no foreign guests were to be seen aside from the Halaby family, Mrs. Cyrus Vance and a handful of the queen's friends from the United States. Oneof Hussein's ex-wives, the English-born Princess Muna, was also present. The former Toni Gardner, she now lives in London but returns frequently to Amman where she still has a palace.
Smartly dressed, flag-bearing troops of the Hashmeite horse guard flanked the entrance to the Zahran palace, in Amman's most exclusive residential neighborhood, while the armed forces band played lively music in the background and tough Bedouin security forces got caught up in the general gaiety around and continually preventing photographers from swarming over the royal couple.
The father of Queen Noor, former Pan American Airlines chairman Naheeb Habaly, said "We have feelings of pride, pleasure and some anxiety," and revealed that the king and queen will visit the United States before the end of the year "so she can have an American-style reception in Washington for all our friends in the United States."
The wedding ceremony itself was a traditional all-male affair, with the king and his bride sitting together on a settee flanked by the chief justice of Jordon's highest Islamic court; Crown Prince Hassan and Prince Mohammad, and the bride's father, with his gray business suit and black bow tie.
The king first signed three copies of the marriage contract, and Habaly followed suit, signing in Arabic to the left of the king's signature. The chief justice, Ibrahim Qatan, then recited the couple repeated. The vows derived from the Koran, the Islamic holy book, simply stake that the couple has been married according to the agreements reached between them them in the marriage contract and according to the laws of God and his prophet.
Then, the royal couple, with the king at the wheel of their silver Mercedes 600 limousine, drove out of the palace grounds and off to an undisclosed destination, followed by the usual contigent of two security cars, and the cheers and quiet clapping of the several hundred guests who gathered at the gate to see them off.
There was a festive feeling throughout Amman today, but no special decorations or signs of public celebration, in keeping with the wishes of the newlyweds for a low-key ceremony. Newspapers were filled with notices of congratulations from citizens throughout the country, and some shopfronts and taxicab windows sported large black-and-white pictures of the king and queen. Otherwise, life in the Jordanian capital went on as usual.