Meet The Next King

Battling cancer, Hussein shocks Jordan by naming a new heir

The end of an era, if that is what it was, came quietly. When King Hussein, ruler of Jordan for 47 years, left abruptly for emergency cancer treatment in the U.S. last week, there was a brief royal decree, a kissing of cheeks and an elegiac command on behalf of his people. "Achieve for them," the 63-year-old monarch told his newly anointed successor, Crown Prince Abdullah, 37, "a dignified life."

Yet those simple acts set off a seismic shock. Just as upsetting as the prospect of Hussein's nearing death was the stunning change in Jordan's royal succession. His demise under any...

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