There were celebrations in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Saturday (3 March) to mark the eighteenth anniversary of King Hassan's accession to the throne.
GV Military band marching into grounds of Royal Palace in Rabat.
GV Guards in national costume marching towards palace.
GV PAN OVER Palace TO diplomats on lawn outside.
SV King Hassan, and his sons walking down palace steps and shaking hands with foreign diplomats. (4 SHOTS)
CU Palace guards.
SV King Hassan followed by two sons shaking hands with army officers.
SV Palace servants standing in line.
SV King Hassan and sons shaking hands with people from crowds as band plays. (3 SHOTS)
King Hassan visited Paris in February to discuss possible mediation by French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing in the Western Sahara conflict. The Shah of Iran is still in Morocco, one and half months after fleeing from the recent revolution. King Hassan has said the Shah is free to remain in the country permanently as a private citizen.
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Background: There were celebrations in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Saturday (3 March) to mark the eighteenth anniversary of King Hassan's accession to the throne. The King used the occasion to reaffirm his belief in Morocco's right to part of the Western Sahara --an area which has been the focal point of fighting between Moroccan troops and Polisario Front guerrillas who are seeking independence.
SYNOPSIS: King Hassan enjoys an extravagant life-style and is both ruler and spiritual leader in Morocco. The palace at Rabat is one of nine royal residences, and a tenth is currently under construction at Agadir. Each is permanently staffed and guarded in readiness for the monarch to arrive without warning. The accession celebrations saw the Rabat guard marching resplendent in their national costume.
Dignitaries waiting to meet the King in the courtyard of the royal palace included members of the Moroccan government and foreign diplomats. King Hassan was wearing the traditional white Moroccan djellaba as he greeted his guests, accompanied by Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed and the younger Prince Moulay Rachid.
In a radio broadcast marking the occasion, King Hassan praised his army for inflicting heavy losses on the Polisario forces in the Western Sahara. The Algerian-backed guerrillas are fighting to establish and independent state in the former Spanish colony ceded to Morocco and Mauritania three years ago. The new Mauritanian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Ould Abdellah visited King Hassan at the end of February for talks on the continuing conflict in the area.
Palace servants and representatives from military and workers' organisations were among the hundreds of well-wishers who crowded the courtyard waiting for a chance to kiss the hand of their monarch.