R.I.P HRH Princess Royal Lalla Aisha (1930-2011)
Rabat – The Ministry of Royal Household, Protocol and Chancellery announced, on Sunday evening, that HRH Princess Lalla Aicha, aunt of HM King Mohammed VI, passed away.
The funeral of the late Princess will take place on Monday. She will be buried at Moulay Al Hassan mausoleum at the royal palace in Rabat.
The deceased was born on June 17, 1930 at the royal palace in Rabat.
She became the ambassador of Morocco to Great Britain from March 1965 to December 1968, thus becoming the first woman ambassador in the Arab world. From 1969 to 1972, she became Morocco’s ambassador in Rome.
A succinct communiqué that disparages the symbol she embodied for women’s rights and empowerment in Morocco. She is after all, the only Moroccan woman to make a TIME cover, and the third Moroccan (after her Royal father and Emir Abdelkrim El-Khattabi of the Rif) to be honoured as such.
The decision to deliver a public speech in western clothes in 1947 -only 17 years old- carried far-reaching consequences not only for Moroccan women, but for the whole fabric of society. Her father, King Mohamed V gave a resounding speech in April 1947 in Tangiers, and she also took the stand and delivered her own address, urging Moroccan women to rise up and claim their share as productive members of the society. It was the signal the traditional patriarchal order was coming to an end, and while it was understood that western modernity had its own shortcomings, modernising was considered the only way, for Moroccan women, to extract themselves from the position they were kept in, and to free themselves from male tutelage.
I bring this up because one of the latest posts I uploaded on the blog was about clothes and women liberation issues, and the claim that affirmed femininity was not degrading to women, but a celebration and a way to impose themselves and pull down the old patriarchal society. Princess Royal Lalla Aisha also embodied the honest effort the monarchy put in to modernise out of genuine survival interest: not only did the (then) Sultan Mohamed Ben Youssef endorse the nationalists’ agenda, he also set out to send a signal to all his subjects about how serious he was in contributing to carry out the yearning for a modern Morocco and make it happen. The immediate post-independence years were stormy, ambitious, but the accumulated gains in pre-requisite legislation, basic infrastructure, administration and literacy were far more significant than during the 40 years following the death of Mohamed V. Lalla Aisha was perhaps an aborted symbol that could have carried Morocco on to the status of a genuine parliamentary monarchy, where the King and his Royal Household would look very much like the Windsors in the United Kingdom: carrying out honorific duties yet commanding respect and devotion.
With her death, a particular chapter in Morocco’s modern history passes away too. Rest In Peace.