Hassan II was born on July 9, 1929, in Rabat, Morocco. He was the eldest son of Sultan Mohammed V, a central figure in Morocco’s struggle for independence from France. Hassan II was a member of the Alawi dynasty, he became the first commander-in-chief of the Royal Armed Forces and was designated crown prince in 1957.

Hassan II | 1983 | Source: Wikipedia

Hassan II grew up in an environment steeped in political activism and nationalistic aspirations. He was educated at the Imperial College in Rabat and later attended the University of Bordeaux in France. These early educational experiences influenced his later approach to governance and diplomacy.

Student at Royal College | 1943 | Source: Wikipedia

Hassan II ascended to the throne in 1961 after the death of his father, Sultan Mohammed V. His reign began amid significant political instability, and he adopted a strong centralist approach to governance. Though he held constitutional referendums and elections, his rule was characterized by a heavy-handed approach to dissent.

Arab League Summit | 1964 | Source: Wikipedia

In terms of domestic reforms, Hassan II aimed to modernize Morocco while maintaining traditional values. He invested in education, introducing new schools and universities, and supported the expansion of healthcare services. His reforms also extended to the agricultural sector, promoting modernization and increased productivity. However, these reforms were often overshadowed by the autocratic nature of his rule and the suppression of political opposition.

Attempted Coup d’etats

During his reign, Hassan II survived two major coup attempts. The first happened in 1971 during his birthday party at the Skhirat palace, where military officers tried to overthrow him. The second was in 1972, when attackers tried to shoot down his plane as he was returning from France. Despite these serious threats, Hassan II survived both attempts and used them to strengthen his grip on the military and other state institutions.

Damaged tail of the royal Boeing 727 after the 1972 Moroccan coup attempt | Source: Wikipedia

Hassan II’s foreign policy was marked by strong relationships with Western countries, particularly France and the United States. His diplomatic skills were evident in his role as a mediator during the Camp David Accords in 1978, which paved the way for peace between Egypt and Israel. He also worked to maintain stability in the Maghreb region, though his stance on the Western Sahara conflict led to tensions with Algeria and other neighboring countries.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Hassan II’s reign is often associated with a dark period in Morocco’s history known as “the Years of Lead.” During this time, political dissent was harshly repressed, with reports of secret detentions, torture, and forced disappearances. These human rights violations have left a lasting stain on his legacy, despite the progress made in other areas.

Pro King Soldiers | Source: Wikipedia

Death of King Hassan II

King Hassan II died on July 23, 1999, at the age of 70 due to a myocardial infarction. His son, Mohammed VI, succeeded him and initiated a series of reforms and reconciliations, tackling some of the human rights abuses that had taken place during his father’s rule.

King Hassan of Morocco | 1982 | Source: Wikipedia

After Hassan II’s death, the Royal Palace of Morocco highlighted his expertise in architecture, medicine, and technology in an official biography, noting that he instilled in his children a “strong commitment to the search for learning and a dedication to uphold the values of their country and their people”.

Morocco 100 Dirhams Banknote, 1987 | Source: Banknote World

King Hassan II was depicted on Morocco’s 100 Dirhams banknote, which was part of the 1987 series. The front of the note features Arabic text, a five-pointed star (the Seal of Solomon) as a registration device, the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, and a portrait of King Hassan II. The back includes images of a star constellation, geometric shapes, a dove, men holding flags and portraits of the king participating in The Green March in Tarfaya in 1975.

Morocco 1 Dirham | 1965 | Hassan II | Source: Numista

He was also commemorated on the Morocco 1 Dirham coin. The front of this nickel coin features a portrait of King Hassan II first portrait, while the back showcases the kingdom’s coat of arms, along with inscriptions, a mintmark, and a privy mark along the edges.

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