Hussein's 45-year reign was turbulent. He weathered numerous threats to his life and to his kingdom's survival. Aware of the personal risks he faced, Hussein decided to appoint an adult heir, his brother, to his throne in 1965, replacing three-year-old Crown Prince Abdullah. This decision was also motivated by concerns that conservative-minded Jordanians would not accept Abdullah as king because of his mixed Anglo-Arab parentage.
Relieved of the burden and responsibilities of being crown prince, Abdullah grew up away from the public eye. He joined the Jordanian army and pursued a military career, the early years of which were spent in remote desert bases. Expected to become the army's chief of staff, Abdullah rapidly rose to the rank of brigadier-general. In May 1998, he was promoted to major-general and placed in command of the elite Special Forces responsible for internal security and counter-terrorism.
In 1992, Hussein had been successfully treated for a cancerous kidney. In mid-1998, he became ill with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. After six months of medical treatment in the United States, Hussein returned to Jordan in January 1999, apparently cured. In a surprise move, he dismissed Hassan as crown prince and named Abdullah to be his successor. The dismissal was reportedly prompted by the king's displeasure with Hassan's performance as regent during his absence abroad. Some accounts suggest that Hussein had long contemplated replacing his brother in order to restore the line of succession to his children. Shortly after appointing Abdullah as crown prince, Hussein flew back to the United States for further cancer treatment. His condition proved to be terminal, and the comatose monarch was flown back to Jordan. Hussein died on 7 February 1999, and the cabinet immediately proclaimed Abdullah to be the new king.