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She was once a common representative at royal events representing Morocco’s King Mohammed, but since 2017, Princess Lalla Salma has not been seen in any official capacity.
So where is the so-called “Ghost Princess,” and what is she doing?
It was reported in 2018 by Hola magazine that she had divorced the Moroccan King, but the Moroccan Royal Palace never confirmed or denied this. Chances are that they never will.
Discussions about the Royal Family in Morocco within the press are taboo, so no media dares to question the Princess’s disappearance or where she might be. Rumours have circulated that she lives in Rabat, Morocco, in exile in the United States and Greece. None of these has been confirmed.
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Unfortunate rumours did circulate about her death, but they were proven to be untrue when the Princess visited the Beni Mellal Oncology Centre in 2019; earlier that month, she was photographed for the first time since 2017 with her daughter, Princess Lalla Khadija, in Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh, Morocco, where they ate at a traditional restaurant.
The timing was not coincidental, as many in the international media had begun questioning her whereabouts, which was brought to the forefront when King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain undertook a state visit to Morocco in March 2019.
Since then, spottings of her have been sparse. However, there was a report in the Arab news Assahifa last year that she marked her birthday on the royal estate in Rabat, where she is said to reside.
The attorney for King Mohammed and Princess Lalla Salma has formally denied any custody disputes and reports of her fleeing the country – shutting down those rumours, saying they were “intolerable” and made them feel “scandalized by extremely serious assertions,” according to Morocco World News.
Her disappearance from public life has been so apparent because of the engagements she used to undertake abroad. She regularly represented her husband at international events, like the Prince and Princess of Wales’s 2011 wedding, the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg and the 2013 inauguration of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
Princess Lalla Salma also hosted first ladies and royal consorts on state visits to Morocco, with the Princess seeming to have a good relationship with Spain’s Queen Letizia.
The Princess also founded the Lalla Salma Foundation – Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in Morocco, which has helped treat AIDS; since 2017, she hasn’t done anything public with her namesake foundation.
She also served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organisation and supported women’s rights and education during her time in the public eye.
If the King and Princess have divorced, the reason for her lack of official royal engagements is apparent; however, what is not understood is the Moroccan Royal Palace not acknowledging the questions about her role and even officially confirming the divorce.
It is expected for the ex-wife of the monarch to stay out of the public eye and to remain quiet about the divorce. It’s strange that she has managed to stay so well hidden since 2019, but that could be how she prefers. There isn’t a wealth of knowledge on or news released about the Moroccan royals, especially in comparison to their European counterparts.
We discussed what her future might look like back in 2018 when the first rumours of the separation swirled. You can read that here.
The King and Lalla Salma proclaimed (the sadaq) their marriage on 12 October 2001 and celebrated their wedding (the zafaf) on 21 March 2002 in a private ceremony at the Royal Palace in Rabat with members of the Moroccan Royal Family in attendance.
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Their marriage was revolutionary in Moroccan history, not only because she was the first wife of a Moroccan King to be created a Princess or a Royal Highness, but she was the first to be seen in public or photographed.
They have two children, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan (19) and Princess Lalla Khadija (16).
Will Princess Lalla Salma ever return to public life? Unfortunately, that’s a question we may never know the answer to, but all signs point to a very private life for the former consort and highly popular royal.