I bet that you thought that “Sunni Love, take one” was going to be about Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s parents, didn’t you? I did too, to be honest. But the failed romance between Sultan and Alia was a pretty good story on its own. And happily Time paid the same media attention to the next Saud-Solh love story: that between “brawny, globetrotting” Talal and the “sparkling” Mlle. Mona.
I’m still not sure where Tola is, but I do love the $8 dowry. Happy Monday-morning reading!
For years, as he watched his 40-odd sons (the exact number has never been reliably checked) grow to strapping manhood, Saudi Arabia’s wily and sentimental old King Ibn Saud cherished a wish—to unite one of them with a daughter of his old friend and champion, Premier Riad El Solh of Lebanon. After El Solh fell before an assassin’s gun (in 1951), Ibn Saud sent his boy Prince Sultan, 29, to offer sympathy and a small token of affection ($79,000 in cash) to the Lebanese Premier’s widow.
During the course of these amenities, a romance flowered between young Sultan and dark-eyed Alia El Solh, eldest of El Solh’s daughters. But disillusionment set in. Alia, a Western-educated 22-year-old, learned to her chagrin that Sultan already had at least one other wife, two sons and four daughters. Sultan hired a private eye and discovered that his bride-to-be was a feminist agitator with a firm determination not to hide herself behind a veil and live in a harem. One month after old Ibn Saud went to his grave, the marriage plans were canceled (TIME, Dec. 21).
Last July, for the observance of the third anniversary of El Solh’s murder, another Ibn Saud heir, brawny, globetrotting Talal, son No. 18, journeyed to Lebanon to pay his respects to the bereaved. His piercing eye soon singled out Mona, the dead Premier’s sparkling 18-year-old third daughter. After one quick glimpse. Talal invited himself to dinner on the following day. A day later, he proposed marriage. Mme. El Solh said it was up to Mona, and Mona cast down her eyes and murmured yes. Last week, after agreeing to pay a modest dowry of 25 Lebanese pounds ($8), Prince Talal signed his name in the marriage register alongside that of Mona El Solh.
Oil-rich Talal provided his bride with a few trinkets as well. Items: a necklace containing 263 diamonds and an emerald; an engagement ring with a marquise diamond approximately an inch long, half an inch wide; a gold mesh bracelet, a diamond-studded necklace, and a hunting-case wristwatch adorned with seven large diamonds and several smaller ones. More important, Talal bought himself a 20-room mansion on the mountain road to Damascus, which suggested that Mona would not be cooped up all year round in a Saudi Arabian harem.
And there was one other matter. “I don’t like to make conditions, and I made none. But I’m sure he won’t marry any other girls,” Mona said confidently.