It was a spectacle worthy of A Thousand and One Nights. Jordanians from every corner of the country flooded Amman to line up along the flower-strewn, 12-mile route that snaked through the capital city. Troops on camelback appeared as mirages through the shimmering dust their mounts churned up. Tribal bedouins in full desert dress followed, eager to pay their respects. They had all come to celebrate the ascension of King Abdulla II to the throne, which he unexpectedly inherited after the death of his father, King Hussein, four months earlier. But as Abdullah, wearing a ceremonial uniform replete with gold braid and a chestful of medals, stood waving t his cheering subject from the back of a convertible, the crowd was equally captivated by the radiant woman t his side. Rania, who at 28 was about to become the world’s youngest queen, was the very picture of a monarch: beautiful, elegant, regal, her model’s figure shown off to perfection in a traditional silk thaub gown the color of desert sand. Her $2 million diamond-encrusted tiara flashed in the June sun.

[ . . . ]