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Queen Noor Mourns From a Distance

February 8, 1999

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Queen Noor watched her husband’s burial from afar.

The American-born wife of King Hussein hugged the monarch’s sister in a courtyard about 100 feet from the grave. Muslim tradition prohibits women _ even wives _ from attending burial rites.

The scene was a profound summary of Noor’s life since becoming Hussein’s fourth wife in 1978. The Princeton-educated architect has adopted and adhered to the customs of her husband’s desert kingdom.

Several women dignitaries, including first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Netherland’s Queen Beatrix, came to Amman to pay their respects but were unable to join mourners at the burial.

Noor paid her last respects to Hussein in a private room at the Bab al-Salam _″Door of Peace″ _ palace on the outskirts of Amman. Noor, 47, then emerged with puffy and tear-clouded eyes, looking pale and wan in a long black skirt and jacket. Her hair was covered with a white scarf in a sign of traditional mourning.

She stood in the palace’s doorway with her two daughters and watched Hussein’s body carried away for a nine-mile procession through Amman to the Raghdan Palace compound, where he was buried next to his father and grandfather.

Noor was later driven to Raghdan and waited with her daughters, Iman, 15, and Raya, who turns 13 on Tuesday. They went to a second-floor room after world leaders and other mourners filed past the coffin and the body was moved to a nearby mosque to begin the burial rites, said palace sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Media coverage in the palace was banned.

``The queen walked with her hands crossed and often bowed to salute soldiers greeting her at the entrance of Raghdan,″ said one source.

To the echo of verses from the Koran sounding from loudspeakers, Noor shook hands and kissed several women officials. They included Mrs. Clinton, Beatrix, Irish President Mary McAleese and Queen Sofia of Spain, a close friend of the Jordanian royal family.

Mrs. Clinton arrived at Raghdan in a four-car motorcade. The first lady emerged slowly from her limousine, her head covered by a beige scarf. She spent about a half hour alone with the queen, said her spokeswoman Marsha Berry.

Later in the evening, Noor was greeted by Arab and Western leaders.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stayed away from the funeral in deference to Muslim tradition, spokesman James P. Rubin said Monday.

``One should not make too much of it,″ Rubin said after Albright told ABC-TV she did not attend the funeral because women were not allowed to participate in Muslim funeral rites.

Albright said it would have been awkward to go under the circumstances.

``I think it is better to be here, and the president and Mrs. Clinton are representing the United States. And I think that is appropriate,″ she said.

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Associated Press Writer Sonya Ross and AP Diplomatic Writer Barry Schweid contributed to this article.

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