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Morocco: the heir Hassan III, the spitting image of his grandfather?

Hassan Morocco

While the King of Morocco Mohammed VI is increasingly taking a step back, Moroccan public opinion is now interested in his successor. Who is Hassan III, the crown prince of the Cherifian kingdom?

According to the subjects of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, sovereign of Morocco, his eldest son Hassan "is the spitting image of his namesake", his grandfather. Hard to say, because few people remember the youth of Hassan II.

But after all, the same was said of the current ruler of Morocco Mohammed VI. Before becoming the round, bearded and smiling king that Moroccans almost revere, he was the spitting image of his own father, at least physically.

It has been more than nine months since the crown prince, Hassan III, can legally claim the crown. Wearing a crew cut – a very fashionable degraded –, the piercing gaze, and sketching a cold smile, the crown prince will be the next king of the Alaouite dynasty. Now 18 years old, he is "thoughtful and severe", according to the words of the Moroccan people.

In the name of the father, the grandfather and Morocco

Reason why el-Hassan ben Mohammed overshadows his father Mohammed VI on the national scene. But this is not the only reason: with the repeated absences of the King of Morocco, there is an air of nostalgia that has taken hold of Morocco. A nostalgia for the late Patriarch Hassan II, who died in 1999.

The oldest still remember the Commander of the Faithful, his repression of the Rif demonstrations, the hundreds of deaths. At the same time, the Francophile Moroccan political elite still welcomes Hassan II's liberation of Tarfaya and Sidi Ifni from Spanish control. Although an authoritarian king, Hassan II inspired the loyalty of a majority of his subjects.

Mohammed VI, on the other hand, is the symbol of a more modernist policy. Arriving in power in 1999, the King of Morocco inherited an army loyal to the royal family and an administration – the Makhzen – overpowered, but also a dissatisfied opposition and deep regional disparities.

The numerous reforms of the Moroccan monarch, including those of the Family Code in 2004, the Decentralization Plan of 2006 and the constitutional referendum in 2011 saved Mohammed VI from social discontent. The opponents, the Darak Malaki — the royal gendarmerie — took care of it. There is therefore, at "M6", authoritarianism, but the king is more discreet than Hassan II. A matter of time, no doubt.

Hassan III, a prince emerging from the shadows

It is therefore as the namesake of the exuberant and elegant king, Hassan II, who said that "a wise man is the one who comes to seek advice first, weapons are found everywhere", and as heir to the one who declared that '"we must write respecting the facts even when they are less exciting than the fantasy of the critics", that Prince Hassan of Morocco grew up, always alongside his father in public events.

Insofar as Mohammed VI, who always shows up with his family, remains relatively inconspicuous on the public scene, the appearances of Hassan III could also be counted on the fingers of one hand.

King of Morocco Mohammed VI and Crown Prince Hassan

This did not last long because, as Mohammed VI increased his absences, especially between 2015 and 2020 due to a succession of illnesses, the young prince represented his father in national and international events.

He even replaced him at the funeral of former French President Jacques Chirac in 2019. Whether it's sporting events, agricultural fairs or inaugurations, Hassan III has become the face of the monarchy . "He who refuses to be kissed by the hand", celebrate the Moroccan media.

The young Crown Prince Hassan is presented as an educated and elegant young man, but also as temperamental and firm. A reputation that he owes to certain anecdotes that often filter through the seraglio.

Just a teenager?

“Already at 9 years old, Moulay Hassan exercised his power without flinching”, tells us a former butler of the royal family. “During a first visit to his villa annexed to the palace, built in 2012, he found that a wall separated the main courtyard from the stables. He refused to visit the castle as long as the wall was not destroyed”, continues the witness. The young prince, although still a child, felt that this wall obstructed his view of the horizon.

But beyond this anecdote, and many others, true or false, it is simply the reserved demeanor and stoic posture of the Crown Prince of Morocco, as well as his perfect execution of protocol and ceremonial since his youngest age. age, which gave him his reputation as "thoughtful and severe".

Because, on the other hand, we know that Prince Hassan of Morocco is also fond of rap. We saw him at the Mawazine festival in 2018, in the front row of rapper French Montana's concert. Or even during a sequence at the Palace of Rabat, where he furtively makes a “peace and love” sign by fixing the camera while passing in front of the throne. A bit of levity that is much more reminiscent of Mohammed VI than Hassan II.

The shadow of Lalla Salma

Today, it has been more than a year and a half since Prince Hassan of Morocco received his baccalaureate in economics and social studies. He is officially continuing his studies in the humanities and social sciences at Ben Guerir, at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P).

However, rumors circulate about the desire of the crown prince of the Cherifian kingdom to leave Ben Guerir, where his father endowed him with a villa. He would have preferred, according to the press, to return to Rabat, this time to live with his mother, Lalla Salma.

A choice which, if true, would have serious repercussions in the seraglio. In Morocco, the press never dares to venture on the ground of the royal family. Moreover, last October, Prince Hassan appeared alongside Mohammed VI during the installation of the new government of Aziz Akhannouch.

But while the divorce, in March 2018, of Mohammed VI and Salma Bennani caused talk in Morocco, the control of the royal family over the national media is so total that the news did not provoke any confirmation or denial.

Salma Bennani, Princess of Morocco, mother of Prince Hassan.

Never has an Alawite sovereign divorced, and the First Lady is far too popular. Moreover, the declining health of Mohammed VI, in addition to his growing inclination to "enjoy life", shed more and more light on the crown prince.

If the latter turns out to be too close to his mother, the Makhzen fears, not without reason, that the influential "Moroccan Lady Di" will become, in the future, the regent of Rabat.

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