I used to be the Queen

In July 1990, I went down to Aqaba, Jordan, to shoot a documentary about a new underwater nature reserve. The Red Sea was pristine in those days.

scan005Prince Abdullah (now King of Jordan), had agreed to come down and officially open the reserve. He had been at Oxford and Sandhurst and was a keen diver himself.

We spent a great day – much of it underwater surrounded by giant manta rays and shoals of hammerhead sharks, his ‘Bond like’ minders messing up my frame. The Prince was fascinated by the art of filming – determined to learn as much as he could.

I was honored when he insisted I must join him that night at a party to celebrate the completion of his new house on the Dead Sea. The only problem was that it would be a six-hour drive…Not to worry, he would send a helicopter.

Later that evening, (having pressed my brand new suit), I approached the military landing zone and it suddenly dawned on me that there was no way I could fly.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 14.21.02I had been underwater far too long that day – and flying after diving, is a sure way to get the bends. I approached the pilot and explained my situation:

“Don’t worry, I will fly at 200ft… I have survived two wars with the Israel’s,”.

By the time we arrived, I needed a stiff drink!

The party was in full swing. A band had been flown in from the UK and everyone was being thrown in the pool. I hardly had time to greet Abdullah before I was tossed in.

A waiter arrived as I surfaced and gave me a large glass of whiskey. Somewhat embarrassed, I edged myself to the side, hovering around all the beauties and ended up next to an older lady who spoke to me in perfect English.

She asked me what I did and I explained I had already been underwater all day and that I had not quite expected this. And what do you do, I enquired:

“Well darling, I used to be the Queen”.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 11.27.11Her Royal Highness Princess Muna, or Toni, was born in the UK. Dodging the groundswell from the incoming (in full evening dress), she told me how she had met King Hussein on the film set of “Lawrence of Arabia” where she was working as a secretary and since their divorce in 1972, had stayed in the kingdom. Abdullah was her son.

The party went on until dawn. As we left, someone fired his machine gun on full automatic into the air and then drunkenly fell backwards into the pool. Gulf War One started three weeks later!


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