HRH Princess Sarvath El Hassan
Her Royal Highness was born in Calcutta on the 24th of July 1947 to a prominent family of the Indian subcontinent. Her father, the late Mohammad Ikramullah, K.C.M.G., H.Pk., was a senior member of the Indian Civil Service in the Government of India prior to Partition and represented the country in many international fora. He became Pakistan's first Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to Canada, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom, and was also the Chairman of the Commonwealth Economic Committee. Her mother, the late Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah, was a writer and was Pakistan's first woman member of Parliament, and served as Ambassador to Morocco and several times a delegate to the United Nations. The Princess received her education in Britain.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince El Hassan bin Talal and Princess Sarvath married in Karachi on the 28th of August 1968. Their Royal Highnesses live in Amman and have four children; Their Royal Highnesses Princess Rahma, Princess Sumaya, Princess Badiya and Prince Rashid and nine grandchildren, Zein El Sharaf, Tariq, Ali, Sukayna, Aysha, Arif, Ali, Hassan and Talal.
Her Royal Highness Princess Sarvath served Jordan for over 40 years. The Princess initiated, sponsored, and continues to support many projects and activities in Jordan, mainly in the field of education, in addition to issues pertaining to women and the family, social welfare and health.
Her Royal Highness was appointed patron of the Young Muslim Women's Association (YMWA) in 1972. In 1974, the YMWA established the Centre for Special Education, a pioneer in the Middle East for the care and education of persons with mental disabilities. The success of the Centre for Special Education led to the opening of a Sheltered Workshop in 1987.
The Princess Sarvath Community College was founded in 1980, under the umbrella of the YMWA, to provide young women from financially disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills needed to earn an independent livelihood. The National Centre for Learning Difficulties is another project that has evolved into a national programme since its establishment at the College in 1993 and serves as a regional facility.
Her Royal Highness Princess Sarvath founded the Amman Baccalaureate School in 1981 and continues to Chair its Board of Trustees. This independent, non-profit, co-educational school provides students with an education of the highest international standards, while remaining firmly rooted in the Arab Islamic heritage and culture. The ABS is a flagship for the IB programmes in the Middle East. The school continues to serve as a catalyst, positively contributing to the development of both the public and the private Jordanian educational systems. Many programmes developed within the school such as the El Hassan Youth Award which has been adopted nationally and developed by the school.
In 1991 in the wake of the Gulf War, Princess Sarvath personally spearheaded an international appeal which raised over $1 million of medicines and medical supplies for Jordan and Iraq. Her Royal Highness continues through her personal contacts in Europe and elsewhere, to be a channel through which medical and nutritional donations are distributed throughout Jordan. The Princess, in her capacity as the President of the YMWA also initiated many successful local and International appeals.
The Princess is President of the Centre for Phonetics Research at the University of Jordan, which deals with speech and hearing disorders; Patron of The Malath Foundation for Humanistic Care, which provides palliative care for the terminally ill; and is also Patron of the Jordanian Charity Association for Phenylketonuria and the Jordanian Osteoporosis Prevention Society.
The Princess established the Jordanian United World Colleges National Selection Committee, and chaired the committee for fourteen years until September 1995. Princess Sarvath actively supported the participation of young Jordanians in other creative exchange programmes, as exemplified in the performance of "Peace Child" which Her Royal Highness brought to Amman in 1992. This production brought together 400 children from 14 countries.
Her Royal Highness was for several years a member of the International Council of the UK based Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), and was a member of the Council of UNESCO's International Fund for the Promotion of Culture, through which Her Royal Highness set up the UNESCO-Sarvath El Hassan Bursaries for Culture and Art. This fund provided Arab artists with the opportunity to broaden their skills and enrich their vision through periods of residency and training at centres of excellence in different parts of the world.
In 1995, Her Royal Highness Princess Sarvath received the "Woman of Peace Award", granted by the Rome-based 'Together for Peace' Foundation, in recognition of her deep commitment to the promotion of education, special education and social welfare.
His Majesty the late King Hussein bestowed upon the Princess the Grand Cordon of the Jewelled Order of the Renaissance (Al Nahda) in August 1994, and she received the Abu Bakr Al Sadik Medal from the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Societies in September 1996. Princess Sarvath also holds decorations from other countries, including 'Hilal-i-Imtiaz' award from Pakistan, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa from the University of New Brunswick and most recently in 2015 Princess Sarvath was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in education from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.
Her Royal Highness has addressed many fora locally and internationally on issues related to Islamic culture and values, health, women, education, the family, children and refugees.
Princess Sarvath speaks Arabic, Urdu, English and French. She enjoys reading, embroidery and cooking, and is a keen gardener, who takes pleasure in looking after a large garden and her many pets. Her Royal Highness's outdoor interests include many forms of exercise including skiing. The Princess is Honorary President of the Jordanian Badminton Federation and was herself the first woman in Jordan to receive a black belt in Taekwondo.
Mohammad Ikramullah, K.C.M.G., H.Pk., father of Princess Sarvath was a senior ICS officer in the Government of India before Partition and represented that country in many international fora, most particularly as Advisor to the preparatory commissions of the United Nations in London and San Francisco, and at its first general assembly, between 1945 and 1946.
Whilst a member of the provisional government of Pakistan, he was Secretary and Advisor at the Ministries of Commerce, Information and Broadcasting, Commonwealth Relations and Foreign Affairs. Appointed the first Foreign Secretary of the Government of Pakistan in 1947, he went on to serve as Ambassador to Canada, Portugal, France and Britain. He was instrumental in setting up the Commonwealth Economic Committee and had been nominated as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth at the time of his death. Princess Sarvath's paternal uncle, Mohammad Hidayatullah was Chief Justice, Vice-President of India and at one time Acting President. Other members of her immediate family have served their countries in Ambassadorial and Ministerial capacities, and many of them are distinguished academics and writers.
Her Royal Highness Princess Sarvath's paternal family are from Bhopal in Central India. Her grandfather, Khan Bahadur Hafiz Mohammed Wilayatullah's family served for several generations at the Court of Bhopal, one of the largest Muslim Princely States. The family is reputed to have come originally from the Hijaz and are regarded as both Quraishi and Chishti. There are documents held in the State Archives of India which trace the family's presence in India back to the time of the Emperor Auranzeb, and it is assumed that some earlier branches of the family came to India with the first Muslim conquerors. Many of the Princess' paternal ancestors were writers and poets. Unusually, Her Royal Highness' great grandmother was a published authoress and her grandfather a well known poet of his time throughout India.
Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah,daughter of the well-known doctor, savant and statesman Sir Hassan Suhrawardy, and mother of Princess Sarvath, was Pakistan's first woman member of Parliament. She served as Ambassador to Morocco and was several times a delegate to the United
Nations. She was also Deputy Leader and later Leader of the Pakistan Delegation to the United Nations and took an active part in the drafting of the Declaration of Human Rights and the Conventions Against Genocide.
Begum Ikramullah, who was one of the very first Asian women to gain her Ph.D. from London University in the late 1930's, has many publications and books to her name.
Begum Ikramullah's paternal ancestors the Suhrawardys take their name from Suhraward of Persia and Azerbaijan. The family is directly descended from the Sufi mystic and saint Shaikh Shahabuddin Suhrawardy, who lived in Baghdad in the 12th Century. Shaikh Shahabuddin was the author of what came to be regarded as the standard work on mysticism 'Awriful-Maariffi'. He was a disciple and successor of Shaikh Abdel Kadir Gilani, and the mosques and shrines over their tombs still survive in Baghdad and are places of pilgrimage to this day.
Other members of the family included Shaikh Shabuddin Yahya Suhrawardy, who came to be known as 'Shaikh al Makhtuli' and was born in Persia, but lived, was executed and buried in Aleppo. Many of the Suhrawardys were scholars and reformers. Her Royal Highness' great grandfather Shaikh Obaidullah al Obaidi Suhrawardy was known as the 'Bahr-ul-Uloom', or the sea of knowledge. He was not only ahighly respected scholar of Arabic and Persian, but unusually for that time, believed that English was the key to a modern education. He was also one of the founders of the Dacca Maddrassah, a boys' school founded very much on the principles of an English grammar or even public school, which was one of the very first bi and trilingual schools in the sub-continent. Shaheed Suhrawardy was one of the founders of Pakistan and held the posts of Finance Minister, Justice Minister andn Prime Minister of Pakistan. Begum Ikramullah's maternal ancestors were Persian Aristocrats from Shiraz who came to India in the 17th century.