Her majesty’s visual communication strategies attempt at intersecting pre-enlightenment with post-modernity, the souverain kingdom state with late capitalist conglomerates, feudalism with humanitarianism. Are they succeeding?
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan’s brand (this is a keyword) has always been universality and a championing of global progressivism. In dissecting the queen’s cyber activism and social media presence through a feminist-performative analytical lens, her strategy has been previously stressed as counter-reactionary to the post 9/11 stereotypization of the Islamic world.1 Considering her degree in business administration followed by a corporate career at Apple and the extensive constitutional monarchy legitimising her role as representative for national identity, one begins to wonder how those two elements can simultaneously inform the image she presents her audiences with.2 The photograph above was taken during a royal visit to the governorate of Aijloun on July 21st 2020. According to the press department of her office, the purpose for her visit was to show interest and support for sustainable initiatives in the tourism industry, in this case Reef Spring Resorts and the Aijloun Forest reserve.³ By analysing the different denotative and connotative visual elements apparent in this header, I will argue that the visual output behind her image is a dichotomy of two strategies contradictory to one another:
On the one hand she is aestheticizing an easy-going, post-Fordist neo-liberal leader supporting local businesses and simultaneously presenting a traditionalist monarch, utilizing formalities to remain in a position of power. The mix of that has less to do with traditional tactics of symbolic national leadership and more to do with a cultural generation of corporate identity, branding.4
Whatever act is being demonstrated across the table, presumably a crafty showcase involving the usage of vegetation for some on-the-spot production of a commodity (hence, sustainable), is being hidden from us by the horizontal flowerpot central to the image. Noting the lack of insight into what is being presented to her indicates the real focus of this image, namely, the inter-human dynamics taking place; her majesty in relation to the people. Even more central than the invasive pot is the bottle of disinfectant proudly dominating the other edge of the table. Once again, we are reminded this is a time of pandemics and facemasks; facemasks all employers of the establishment seem to be wearing, in addition to their respective hijabs. These, as well as the coverings of their modest attires, are enhanced by the company’s logo. The conferral of these unknown labour fruits seems to be taking place in a provisional market-stall fortified by folkloric Jordanian woven rugs and tapestry-like textiles pinned across the walls, underlining the necessity for a touristic attraction to build on architectures of national-traditionalist, cultural/artisanal signifiers. The emphasis on this can be interpreted as symptomatic of what Van Ham described as the ‘brand state’, an ironically globalist phenomenon very much in tune with the Queen’s persona.5
In opposition to the policies being represented by the working women of this illustrated event, Queen Rania’s appearance doesn’t seem to be much influenced by the pandemic or the Islamic dress codes socialized in the country her family rules over. Hands behind her back, shades perfectly framing her face, the ponytail leaving just a string of hair hanging to the front, her dress giving off the ethnic vibe hiding just enough to seem modest but accentuating just enough to faint modernity (in what is still a fairly conservative society), Queen Rania’s uncustomary bobo-ensamble nonchalance makes her evidently stand out. She is confident with her image being distant, autonomous, foreign, even moulded into a black mirror towards most female characters surrounding her. While the focus remains on showing human interaction, social brigades so to speak, the Queen’s complete separation (both from religious norms AND health regulations), poses the question of how this image is at all beneficiary both for the women surrounding her (whose conventionalisms expose them as less progressive compared to their counterpart) and for Queen Rania herself (seeming to enjoy privileges which fundamentally detach her from the ‘nation’ she is supposedly representative of).
The obvious paradox of performing a modern, alternative variant of the monarch does not seem to be avoided in these representational campaigns because what the Queen’s image achieves, what all of her visual communication succeeds at, is presenting not a formalist monarch engaging within that role, but a completely idealized personification of the (non-existent) brand-state, an image that does not even require to seriously reflect or symbolize localist realities because that was neither the objective nor the policy from the beginning on. These types of image-based personifications are arguably relevant in shaping up sympathizing and supportive followers6 either as voters or marketing target groups, but given the fact Queen Rania will never be an elected official one should ask whether her campaign is ultimately more directed towards the international perception of her autonomous self than towards how she is being viewed internally in the country she reigns upon.
 Maral Tatios Yessayan, “Monarchical nation branding: Queen Rania’s performance of modernity on YouTube,” Celebrity Studies, Vol. 6, Issue 4, 2015.
 “Queen Rania of Jordan: Leadership Case Study”, UK Essays, last modified November 2018, https://www.ukessays.com/essays/business/queen-rania-of-jordan-business-essay.php?vref=1.
 “Queen Rania Visits Ajloun Forest Reserve and Meets Founders of Sawwah Platform”, Press release by the media centre of Her Majesty’s official website, last modified in March 2020, https://www.queenrania.jo/en/media/press-releases/queen-rania-visits-ajloun-forest-reserve-and-meets-founders-sawwah-platform.
 Melissa Aronczyk, “‘Living the brand’: Nationality, globality and identity strategies of nation branding consultants,” International journal of communication, Vol 2 (2018): 41–65.
 Peter Van Ham, “The Rise of the Brand State: The Postmodern Politics of Image and Reputation,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 80, no. 5 (2001): 2–6. JSTOR, accessed December 24, 2020, www.jstor.org/stable/20050245.
 Silke Adam & Michaela Maier, “Personalization of Politics, A Critical Review and Agenda for Research,” Annals of the International Communication Association, Vol. 34, No. 1 (2018), 213-257.
Written by Shantal Moldenberger
What do you identify as? Male he/his
What is your guilty pleasure? I don’t feel guilt about anything that gives me pleasure
Which book do you recommend? Marquis de Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom
In all fairness and admitting that all above is correct, still AKK was the main person since she was inaugurated…