"Hail, Queen Nora!" practiced Mark Johnson, 8, of the Capitol Hill Montessori School as he waited with his classmates outside the Capital Children's Museum.
"No 'hail.' 'Hello' will be fine," said teacher Alfreda Antonucci. "And get the name right -- Noor."
Two lines of wriggly little bodies flanked the museum's walkway yesterday morning minutes before the arrival of Queen Noor of Jordan, the former Lisa Halaby, 30, American-born, Washington-bred, alumnus of the Cathedral School as well as Princeton ('74).
The queen stepped out of a black limousine, followed by her 19-month-old son, Hamza -- carried by his young British nanny, Diane Smith -- and an entourage of wives of ambassadors and Jordanian officials, friends and Secret Service agents. Noor wore a blue wool dress with blue print shawl and brown suede pumps. Smith, in brown hat and beige dress, wore exercise sandals -- and a good thing, too.
The museum tour was the first stop yesterday for Queen Noor, who is in Washington with King Hussein, her husband, on a state visit. First event was the children's receiving line:
"You're a Dallas Cowboys' fan?" she said, bending to read one child's sweat shirt. "Well, I hope they do well this year." Another child unzipped his jacket to reveal a Superman T-shirt. "You're a Superman fan?" she asked. "Or are you Superman?"
Inside, seventh and eighth graders from Sidwell Friends put on a mime show and a dance routine to the tune of Bette Midler's "Do You Wanna Dance?" Noor next encountered 28 children from Draper Elementary in Southeast Washington, who immediately besieged her for autographs. "Hold it, hold it," she said, putting up a hand. "One at a time." The group got a little noisy, and she spoke again.
"You must all be very quiet and orderly as you would be in school," she said smiling, "and I will give everyone a signature who wants one. But if you're not quiet, your teacher will talk about the bad influence I've been on you." Relative quiet resumed, and the queen made good on her promise.
The last autograph was for the school counselor, Melvin Riddick, who handed through the crowd a copy of "Children: The Challenge" for Noor to sign. As Noor left, she got a round of applause. "See you all again -- God willing," she said.
She also encountered former Princeton classmate Guy Nouri, who does computer graphics for the museum. "Super," said Noor, when she heard.
"We were in art and architecture classes together," Nouri said, watching her from a distance as she smiled for cameras. Has she changed? "Um-hum," he nodded absent-mindedly, still watching her. "She's quite a lady. She was very creative, obviously intelligent . . ."
Noor was taken through the hands-on Mexico exhibit, stopping to go through a replica of a Mexican house and taste a tortilla. Told by executive director Ann Lewin that it was probably time for the museum to change its Mexico exhibit, which has been there 2 1/2 years, Noor said, "Well, maybe we can help you with that."
She also took young Prince Hamza through one exhibit where he played with a pattern box and started to walk off with it. Smith told him he had to leave the box. However, the museum gave him a gift very similar to the box.
"This is great," said Smith, watching Hamza play with the Archimedian water screw. "I think I'll bring him every day and let him stay here."
Later in the afternoon, Ramzieh Majali, wife of Jordanian Ambassador Abdul Hadi Majali, hosted a tea at Decatur House for the queen. Dusky light filtered through the windows over a luscious spread of cakes, fruits and baked brie. For the occasion, Queen Noor put her hair up and changed into black culottes and an embroidered black velvet jacket.
"She's very nice," said Nadia Masarweh, whose husband, Samir, is a Jordanian Embassy official. "She's trying very hard to be Jordanian."
The guests were a mixture of well-dressed American and Jordanian women, a lot of whom seemed to know each other already. Among the guests: Carolyn Deaver, wife of the White House deputy chief of staff; Lorraine Percy, wife of Sen. Charles Percy (R-Ill.) -- her daughter Gail was a year behind Noor at Concord Academy in Massachusetts; Nancy Thurmond, wife of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.); Patricia Veliotes, wife of the asistant secretary of state for the Near East; Jane McCarthy, a friend of Noor's from her single days in Amman; Jayne Ikard, a neighbor of Noor's father, Najeeb Halaby.
"She commented upon how much more exciting Washington looks to her," said Carolyn Deaver. "There's so much new architecture."
"I got here early expecting a crowd," said Jayne Ikard. "Instead it's just 50 ladies."
"Very selective," added another woman.
"This will do me good for a week," said Ikard.