Daredevil Canadian acrobatic pilot becomes member of Jordan’s royal family
By: Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press
Posted: 3:02 AM | Comments: 1 (including replies) | Last Modified: 6:39 AM
OTTAWA – A barnstorming Stratford, Ont. woman with a daredevil streak and a passion for adventure has quietly become a member of Jordan’s royal family.
Aerobatic pilot Basmah Hasan became Princess Basmah in January after she wed Prince Hamzah of Jordan’s Hashemite royal family.
Hamzah is the son of the late King Hussein and his American-born wife, Queen Noor, and a senior officer in Jordan’s armed forces. He is the half-brother of the current King, Abdullah II, and for a short time had been Crown Prince before being replaced by his nephew in 2004.
The couple met while 33-year-old Hasan was working as the chief pilot at the Royal Aero Sports Club of Jordan last year. She had blazed a trail in the skies over the Arab world by becoming the first certified aerobatic pilot and a certified glider pilot in the country.
The prince, 32, was a fixed-wing pilot trained at Britain’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
“She fell in love with this man, madly in love with him, they’re very much in love,” says sister Yasmen Hasan of Ottawa, the family’s spokesperson.
Hasan had moved to Jordan in 2004, leaving her mathematics studies at the University of Western Ontario to pursue a dream of becoming a pilot. Her parents Mike and Halloul were from affluent Jordanian families, their four children were born in Canada.
Basmah Hasan kept adding up her pilot credentials, learning how to do aerial manoeuvres, how to fly engineless soaring aircraft, how to fly commercial and jump planes and how to ferry planes to other countries. She is also a certified flight instructor who has taken other women under her wing.
The Hasan family was thrown into another dimension as they received notice late last year that Basmah was to become a royal.
Sister Yasmen calls the whole wedding “surreal,” as she and her family stood alongside King Abdullah II, his wife Queen Rania, and Queen Noor for the nuptials. The small ceremony took place at Hasan’s grandfather’s home in Amman, the same place where their parents had been married in 1976.
The new Princess Basmah al Hussein wore a blush, beaded and embroidered dress picked out for her by elegant new mother-in-law Queen Noor.
Yasmen Hasan says while the experience was unusual, the fact her sister was marrying a Jordanian and making her life there was not. Father Mike was a restaurant owner and businessman around southern Ontario, but her parents made it a point to keep strong ties to their homeland.
“We’re very proud Jordanians, it’s our heritage, we went every summer,” said Hasan.
“We’ve always been in love with that country, as much as we love being Canadian first. For her to blend the two cultures and upbringing and experience together was pretty remarkable.”
King Abdullah has been under pressure to introduce democratic reforms, Jordan’s constitutional monarchy not immune to the Arab Spring that swept the region. Protests have gone on in Jordan for the past year-and-a-half, aimed at loosening the royal family’s grip on government.
Last week, Jordan’s Parliament passed a law to encourage a true multi-party system in the country, rather than one that favoured the King’s political allies. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for later this year.
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