King of Morocco from 1961 to 1999. Born Moulay Hassan* on 3 July 1929, he succeeded his father King Muhammad V on 26 February 1961. His reign was partly tolerant and constitutional, compared to some, but with many human rights violations against military and republican opponents.

There were two attempted military coups in 1971 and 1972. In the second of these the air force attacked the royal aircraft and killed the pilot. King Hassan took the controls himself, broadcast a message that the king was dead, and was thus enabled to land the plane safely and suppress the coup. The presumed ringleader, General Mohammed Oufkir, was reported to have committed suicide, and his family and many other alleged conspirators spent decades in prison.

In 1976 after the death of Franco, Spain withdrew sovereignty from their colony of Spanish Sahara to the south of Morocco. This large, phosphate-rich but relatively unpeopled territory was also claimed by Mauritania, which surrounded it on the west and south. King Hassan led a Green March into Spanish Sahara and claimed it for Morocco.

An agreement was made to divide it between the two countries, Morocco taking the northern two-thirds, called Ouededdahab ('River of Gold', same as the Spanish name Rio de Oro). The Saharan liberation movement Polisario fought against them, declaring a Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). In 1979, after a further military coup in Mauritania, that country withdrew from its claim and Morocco occupied the rest. Although Morocco have managed to occupy most of the territory using giant berms, the ongoing guerrilla war and international opposition to Moroccan annexation of the Western Sahara was the major continuing problem of King Hassan's reign, unresolved when he died.

The king suspended parliamentary government in 1965. New constitutions of 1980 and 1992 declared Morocco to be a constitutional monarchy, although Hassan did not allow great latitude to opponents of his rule. With his death from heart attack and pneumonia on 23 July 1999, at the age of 70, his son and successor Muhammad VI went further to accommodate opponents to royal rule.

Hassan's wife Lalla Latifa* was a commoner, so was not granted the title of Queen. She was known as Mother of the Royal Children.

< Muhammad V - Morocco - Muhammad VI >

* All Moroccan princes have the title 'Moulay' (master) and princesses are 'Lalla'; except if the prince's name is Muhammad. Since there can be only one Master Muhammad in history, princes of that name are called 'Sidi' (lord).

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