MOHAMMED VI & SALMA

Rabat, March 21st, 2002

As royal weddings used to be secret affairs, nobody knew when King Hassan of Morocco wed his Berber wife Lalla Latifa and she never appeared in public or featured in family photos. He is understood to have maintained an extensive harem who lived in isolated luxury and were never allowed to bear children. King Mohammed VI broke with tradition by issueing an official communiqué about his engagement and the identity of his future wife on October 12th, 2001. The announcement left the King's subjects very curious as they hoped photos of the bride-to-be would be issued. The couple had first met in 1999, a few months before the death of king Hassan II, but the meeting was happen instance contrary to the pairings arranged by the families.

Today, in the evening, King Mohammed VI of Morocco and his fiancée Salma Bennani signed the marriage contract at the Royal Palace in Rabat in a private Muslim ceremony in front of family members. During the ceremony also the wedding contract of Moulay Slimane Cherkaoui, son of Princess Lalla Malika (paternal aunt of King Mohammed VI) with Hind Hrida was signed. Days before the wedding the first photos of King Mohammed VI and Salma Bennani were issued. They showed a tall, slender, red haired young woman. In another break with custom, Salma will be granted an official title and will become known as Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Salma. She will not bear the title of Queen. However this might indicate that Lalla Salma is to play the role of Moroccan First Lady, which is also an open rupture with traditions. King Mohammed VI also indicated he will stick to one wife and not practice polygamy, as all his ancestors.

The royal palace issued a statement in which was said: "On this happy and blessed day of Thursday, Moharram 6, 1423 of the Hegira, corresponding to March 21, 2002, the Royal Palace was brightened up by the sealing of the marriage act of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, May God assist him, in keeping with the Divine teachings and the Prophet's tradition, to the pearl, radiant in her chastity, Lalla Salma. The act of this blessed marriage has been solemnly drawn during a joyful ceremony, held in the presence of the members of the illustrious royal family. May the Almighty preserve H.M. the King, bestow his protection on him and make that the sovereign's life be filled with joy and happiness. May the Almighty protect His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid and all the members of the illustrious royal family. God hears the prayers of those who implore Him. On this happy occasion, the act of marriage of Moulay Slimane Cherkaoui, son of her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Malika and of Mr. Mohamed Cherkaoui, to Miss Hind Hrida was also sealed".

The wedding will be celebrated with three days of festivities beginning on April 12 at the royal palace in Marrakech, in keeping with the centuries-old traditions of the Royal family and authentic customs, which have, throughout time, consecrated the symbiosis between the distinguished Cherifian Alaouite family and the various layers of the Moroccan people. Moroccan and foreign guests will be present. There is talk of inviting European royal houses, although none of them have confirmed receiving an invitation yet. The Moroccans are bursting with curiosity over details of what is being described as a fairytale wedding.
On April 9th the following statement was issued by the royal palace: In view of the continuous aggravation of the situation in the Palestinian territories and the need to give priority to ongoing diplomatic efforts to find a political solution to the tragedy befalling the Palestinian people, King Mohammed VI and the royal family decided to postpone to a later date all ceremonies scheduled for this April 12 through 14 in Marrakesh to mark the wedding of H.M. the King, may God assist him.

Lalla Salma was born on May 10, 1978 (?) as a daughter of El Haj Abdelhamid Bennani, a school teacher from Fez, and his wife, who died when Salma was three years old. Lalla Salma has one sister and was brought up at her grandmother's home. She attended a private school in Rabat. Afterwards she qualified for an honors program initiated by the Ministry of National Education, which resulted in her obtaining the Baccalaureate in 1995 with excellent grades in Mathematics/sciences at the Lycée Hassan II. She completed a two-year preparatory course at the Lycée Moulay Youssef in Rabat (Maths Sup. and maths Spé.) and graduated valedictorian in 2000 from l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Informatique et d'Analyse des Systèmes (ENSIAS) where she majored in computer science. After having graduated she interned at Omnium North Africa (Morocco's largest private corporation), in which the royal family has a 20 percent stake, for a 6 months training session subsequent to which she was hired as a computer scientist.