The one and only Crown Prince of Morocco, Mohammed VI met Salma Bennani
Image credit: Popsugar
The Bride: Salma Bennani, then a commoner.
The Groom: Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.
When: During a two day celebration from July 12, 2002, to July 13, 2002.
Where: Rabat. It broke the centuries-old Moroccan tradition of shielding the monarch’s wife from the public.
On March,2022 newspapers, across their front pages were large photographs of the striking young redhead who that afternoon would become the bride of their monarch, King Mohamed VI, at a low-key family ceremony behind closed doors in the Royal Palace in Rabat.
Lalla Salma Bennani Image credit: Mvslim
Although the King, familiarly known as “M6″, revealed months ago that he was to marry Lalla Salma Bennani, the public had previously known nothing about her and had no idea what she looked like. Only on the second week of March, 2022, did readers discover that she was a 24-year-old computer expert and qualified engineer from a middle-class family in the ancient city of Fez.
Never before has Morocco’s royal family permitted any such intimate scrutiny of its personal affairs; under Mohamed’s father, Hassan II, who died two years ago, rigid control of the media and an unforgiving security service had ensured its total privacy inside Morocco. Few people today can recall seeing a picture of Mohamed’s mother, nor was the public widely aware of her name (or that of Hassan’s other wife).
Yet on the second week of March, 2022 the palace laid on an official briefing for journalists, as well as giving its blessing to a website devoted to praising this “pearl, radiant in her chastity”. The royal household remains secretive about how they met in April 1999 – two months before Mohamed became king.
King Mohammed VI Image credit: The New York Times
In a break with tradition, Mohammed VI did not marry before succeeding to the throne, according to government officials. Yet such are the power of old ways here that many of his subjects believe he must have taken a wife secretly.The status of women here is not as restricted as in some other Islamic countries.
July, 2014, Rabat – On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of King Mohammed VI’s enthronement, the Sovereign will chair, in Rabat, the festivities marking the Throne Day and address a speech to the nation, the Royal Household, Protocol and Chancellery Ministry said on Tuesday. Source: moroccoworldnews.com Image credit: Yahoo
Salma Bennani was born in Fez, the cultural capital of Morocco on the 10th of May 1978. In 1999, when she was 21 years old she attended a private party which changed the course of her life forever. That was where she met a man who would become her future husband. He was no ordinary man though as he was the one and only Crown Prince of Morocco, Mohammed VI.
Salma Bennani Image credit: firetown.com
It was love at first sight for the king-to-be because he was immediately attracted to the gorgeous redhead. Although it’s every girl’s dream to be married into royalty, Salma didn’t respond to him immediately because she was still in college and wanted to complete her studies first before committing to anything.
Salma asked the king to wait after she had finish her studies and he did wait.
Salma had reportedly set up some ground rules before she agreed to the king’s proposal. One thing she was firm on was to insist on a monogamous marriage between the pair. Although polygamous marriages in the royal family were seen as a normal occurrence because every monarch in Morocco has had more than one wife, King Mohammed had agreed to stay loyal to Salma!
That wasn’t the only break from tradition that had emerged from this union as the king also showed the world his bride. Traditionally, the wives of Moroccan Kings were private figures who were obliged to stay within the castle walls. Therefore it came as a shock when the Moroccan people opened their newspapers on the day of the royal union to find a tall, red-haired young woman who was to be their queen.
She was also granted the official title Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Salma and has been described as one of the most beautiful first ladies in the world
King Mohammed VI and Princess Lalla Salma’s Meander Tiara, during their intimate wedding ceremony Image credit: Hello Magazine
‘Lalla’ is a traditional honorific for high-born and royal women which correspond to the western title “Lady” for noble women. In the Moroccan constitution there has never been a title given to the King’s wife, therefore it is a great leap for the Moroccan people to have a first lady who is given such high recognition.
Although Salma was a commoner who was born to a humble school teacher, Al-Haj Abdel Hamid Bennani and his wife Naima Bensouda, she grew up to be a brilliant woman. She attended a private school in her earlier years and went on to receive a degree in computer science from the National School of Computer Science and Systems Analysis. She also graduated top of her class and was the valedictorian for her year.
Although the king was taken aback with Salma’s precedents for marriage, he agreed to it as he believed it was the right time to bring Morocco out of its shell
Image credit: YouTube
The only way to do that was to break out of the shadow of tradition which was followed by his line of ancestors.
King Mohammed VI was not as conservative as the past rulers of Morocco as he grew up with Western education. He is fluent in English, French and he has several academic degrees. All that has given him enough exposure to see that Morocco had to change for the better and he began by taking his wife as his equal.
Princess Lalla Salma is extremely passionate about the position of women in the country and found the systems in place to be an injustice to women. In the conservative country of Morocco women had next to no rights when it came to marriage as they had no say in marriage contracts and had limited access to divorce. She was determined to change the rules.
The royal couple held a private marriage ceremony on March 21, 2002 and celebrated extravagantly with days of festivities in July. Princess Lalla Salma donned beautiful traditional outfits and wore a veil for a portion of the function. She then let her luscious red locks flow and wore a sparkling diamond meander tiara for the rest of the celebrations.
They are definitely a powerful couple. Both Princess Lalla Salma and the King often go on diplomatic business together. She also regularly represents Morocco at important events around the world.
Salma is heavily veiled per tradition. They married in a private ceremony on March 21, 2002, and celebrated with days of grand celebrations in July (though they were initially postponed from April after fighting in the Middle East). The bride dressed traditionally, including donning a thick veil for a portion of the ceremonies. She let her signature red locks cascade down around her and topped them with a diamond meander tiara, though she has not been prone to tiara-wearing since. Image credit: The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
The marriage of Mohammed VI and Salma Bennani changed the history of royal marriage in Morocco. Traditionally, the wife of the king hasn’t had a public role to play. Moroccan kings have typically been polygamists prone to secret marriages to wives who remain private figures. The current king’s own mother is not photographed, and there is no “queen consort” title in Morocco.
Change came when Mohammed, who acceded the throne on the death of his father in 1999, announced his engagement. Not only did he announce that he was marrying, he identified his bride and released a picture of Salma Bennani, a Moroccan who worked in IT when they met at a party in 1999.
They married in a private ceremony on March 21, 2002, and celebrated with days of grand celebrations in July (though they were initially postponed from April after fighting in the Middle East).
The bride dressed traditionally, including donning a thick veil for a portion of the ceremonies. She let her signature red locks cascade down around her and topped them with a diamond meander tiara, though she has not been prone to tiara-wearing since. I encourage a look through the multiple parts of the video below for a peek at the wedding atmosphere.
In April 2011, she attended the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London and in April 2013 was at the King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands’ investiture Image credit: Unofficial Royalty
Salma is the first Moroccan King’s wife in history to ever receive any kind of title and acknowledgement. The King bestowed on her the title of Royal Princess of Morocco and she is often seen in public. She also represents the King abroad, something very rare for a royal Muslim wife. For instance, she was at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate.
When Mohammed’s father, Hassan II, was king, his wives, (there were two official wives), rarely left the harem, and if they did they were never photographed, or they were heavily veiled. Hassan II also had a harem full of unofficial wives (hundreds). It is tradition that the new King take into his household his father’s harem and provide for them. When Mohammed became King, is released all the women in his father’s harem with pensions, and vowed to only have one wife. Also, Hassan II’s official wives were only known as “mother of the royal children.”
The new King is considered very modern and a reformist. Although it is not outlawed, polygamy is discouraged and regulated. Also, men are now made to pay alimony and child support in divorce situations, as children are not automatically given to the father. The King has also made many political changes and changes as to how the kingdom is run. This, and Morocco’s close relationship/friendship with the west has made Morocco and target for Muslim extremist.
The fact the Morocco’s King’s wife even appears in public and photographs is significant in itself and shows a very modern Muslim kingdom moving toward more modern ideals.
Princess Lalla Salma managed to break out of the Moroccan culture that did not care for women’s rights as she often appeared in public events right beside her husband. Little by little she started to change the way Moroccan women were seen and treated.
In Morocco which is a Muslim-majority country, it is the norm for women to wear the hijab which is a veil that covers their head and chest as it upholds the idea of modesty in the religion. Therefore it comes as a surprise to the common folk that the King’s wife is seen without a head scarf.
Princess Lalla Salma does not believe in this tradition as she does not cover up to that extent but still dresses modestly.
This whole union was a break from tradition as Salma was the first commoner in Moroccan history to be hoisted into the ranks of royalty through marriage. They were blessed with a son, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, and a daughter, Princess Lalla Khadija. Source: Good Times Image credit: Unofficial Royalty
Princess Lalla Salma had initiated great change in the country for the better. She founded the Lalla Salma Foundation – Prevention and Treatment of Cancers to raise public awareness on cancer in 2005.
Although Princess Lalla Salma is not excessively involved in the country’s political scene, her presence has become a milestone for the Moroccan women
From commoner to first lady of the country, Princess Lalla Salma has helped in empowering women in her country as she symbolizes a new and brighter chapter for women.
Salma Bennani is the daughter of a school teacher father, (her mother died when she was young). After obtaining an engineering degree, she went to work for a holding company controlled by the Moroccan Royal Family. This is how she met Mohammed VI, King of Morocco. Source: historiamolim6000.wordpress.com Image credit: afrique news info – WordPress.com