The current king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, was born in Rabat, Morocco on August 21, 1963. His parents were King Hassan II, and his wife, Lalla Latifa. Prince Mohammed attended primary and secondary school at the Royal Palace College in Rabat. He then attended the Mohammed V University in Rabat where in 1985 he earned a bachelor’s degree in law. He later earned a master’s degree in public law at the same institution in 1988. In 1993 he was awarded a doctorate in law from the University of Nice in France.
After completing his studies, Mohammed returned to Morocco where he was given more and more royal responsibilities by his father, King Hassan II. These political and ceremonial duties would prepare him for his future role as king. In 1985 he was given the duty of coordinating and overseeing the armed forces.
In the early 1990s, King Hassan’s health declined, and even more, responsibilities were handed to Mohammed. After a 28-year reign, Hassan died on July 23, 1999. A few hours later Mohammed at age of 35 was designated king. On July 30 he was publicly enthroned as King Mohammed VI.
The transition went smoothly, and Mohammed built on the cautious reforms that his father had enacted. He implemented economic reforms that resulted in the modernization of Morocco.
Per capita income nearly doubled to $3,000 from 1999 to 2011. New infrastructure projects were launched; new roads, tramways, and a high-speed train line were constructed. A renewable energy industry was established. In 2004 a new family code (Mudawana) was enacted which expanded the rights of Moroccan women.
Many Moroccans were influenced by the Arab Spring of 2011 which demanded democracy in Egypt and other Arab nations. A year earlier Wikileaks released diplomatic messages that led to allegations of corruption in the government and the king’s court. Disaffection with government corruption and demands for greater democracy were voiced openly in Morocco. Mohammed reacted by proposing that a new constitution be written. The new constitution was presented to the people and approved in a nationwide referendum on July 1, 2011. It went into effect on July 30, 2011.
The new constitution expanded the powers of the prime minister and parliament but preserved the king’s final authority in all areas of government. The king was granted complete control over religious affairs, security, and strategic policy. The king must nominate the prime minister from the largest party in parliament (but not necessarily a member of parliament). Women were guaranteed “civic and social” equality. Tamazight (the Berber language) and Arabic were made official languages of the country. These changes satisfied the majority of those demanding greater democracy and freedoms.
In 2017 the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of burqas were outlawed. In 2020 Morocco normalized relations with Israel.
Forbes magazine has deemed Mohammed VI one of the five richest monarchs in the world. Estimates of his wealth range from $2 to 8 billion. He has vast banking and business holdings in Morocco. The royal palace has a daily operating budget of $960,000 which is paid by the state.
In March 2003 Mohammed VI married Salma Bennani. The couple has two children: Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, born in 2003, and Princess Lalla Khadija, born in 2007.