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Saturday, July 24, 1999 Published at 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK


Royal tribute to Moroccan king

The Queen said she was deeply saddened by the death

The Queen and Prime Minister Tony Blair have remembered King Hassan II as a man who played a key role in the troubled Middle East peace process.

The Prince of Wales will represent the Queen at the funeral of the Moroccan king on Sunday. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will represent the government.

King Hassan, the Arab world's longest-serving monarch, died of a heart attack on Friday aged 70. He is succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed.

'Advancing the cause of tolerance'

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "Her majesty the Queen and the royal family have been deeply saddened by the death of his majesty King Hassan II of Morocco, who worked tirelessly to advance the cause of tolerance between people of different faiths and religions in the region and wider world."

The Queen has sent a personal message of condolence to his majesty Mohamed bin Hassan and his family.

Mr Blair remembered the king as a man of "dedication and fortitude".

"His leadership of nearly 40 years did much for Morocco and its people," said the prime minister.

"Under his guidance and through his direct influence, Britain and Morocco enjoyed a warm and friendly relationship."

King Hassan made headlines in the UK for igniting controversy on two of the occasions he met the Queen.

During an official visit to Morocco, the Queen was left alone in a tent because King Hassan refused to allow the Duke of Edinburgh to sit near her.

On the second occasion, the Queen, in evening dress and tiara, was left sitting in her Rolls Royce for half an hour because the king had postponed a banquet.

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