Farouk of Egypt

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Farouk I
فاروق الأول
Kingfarouk1948.jpg
King Farouk I in military uniform
King of Egypt and the Sudan[1]
Reign28 April 1936 – 26 July 1952
Coronation29 July 1937[2]
PredecessorFuad I
SuccessorFuad II
Regents
Prime Ministers
Born(1920-02-11)11 February 1920
Abdeen Palace, Cairo, Sultanate of Egypt
Died18 March 1965(1965-03-18) (aged 45)
Capri, Italy
BurialAl-Rifa'i Mosque, Cairo, Egypt
SpouseFarida (née Safinaz Zulficar)
(m. 1938; div. 1948)
Narriman Sadek
(m. 1951; div. 1954)
IssuePrincess Ferial
Princess Fawzia
Princess Fadia
Fuad II
Full name
Farouk bin Ahmed Fuad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin Muhammad Ali bin Ibrahim Agha
DynastyMuhammad Ali Dynasty
FatherFuad I
MotherNazli Sabri
ReligionIslam
SignatureFarouk I فاروق الأول's signature

Farouk I (/fəˈrk/; Arabic: فاروق الأولFārūq al-Awwal; 11 February 1920 – 18 March 1965) was the tenth ruler of Egypt from the Muhammad Ali dynasty and the penultimate King of Egypt and the Sudan, succeeding his father, Fuad I, in 1936.[3]

His full title was "His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and the Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan and of Darfur". He was overthrown in the 1952 military coup d'état and forced to abdicate in favour of his infant son, Ahmed Fuad, who succeeded him as Fuad II. He died in exile in Italy in 1965.

His sister, Princess Fawzia Fuad, was the first wife and consort of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born as His Sultanic Highness Farouk bin Fuad, Hereditary Prince of Egypt and Sudan, on 11 February 1920 at Abdeen Palace, Cairo, the eldest child of Sultan Fuad I (later King Fuad I) and his second wife, Nazli Sabri.[5][6] He was of 10/16 Circassian (bilineal), 3/16 Turkish (bilineal), 2/16 French (matrilineal) and 1/16 Albanian (patrilineal) descent.[7][8][9] Farouk was always proud of his Albanian heritage and as king, he was protected by 30 Albanian bodyguards as he regarded Albanians as the only people he could trust with his life.[10] Farouk's first languages were Turkish and French (the languages of the Egyptian elite), and he always thought of himself as an Egyptian rather than as an Arab, having no interest in Arab nationalism except as as a way of increasing Egypt's power in the Middle East.[11] Until the 1952 revolution, Egypt was dominated by an elite made up of interrelated families of Turkish, Circassian and Albanian origin known to historians as the Turco-Circassian elite who owned most of the land, upon which the fellahen (Egyptian peasants) toiled upon as tenet farmers. Despite the Albanian origin of his house, Farouk in common with the other members of Egypt's Ottoman elite had more Circassian blood in him as Mohammad Ali the Great and his successors were fond of their Circassian slave girls, which were one of the most prized possessions of an Ottoman official.[12]  

In addition to his sisters, Fawzia, Faiza, Faika and Fathia,[13] he had two half-siblings from his father's previous marriage to Princess Shwikar Khanum Effendi. King Fuad kept tight control over his only son when he was growing up and Farouk was only allowed to see his mother once every day for an hour.[14] Fuad who did not speak Arabic insisted that the crown prince learn Arabic so he could talk to his subjects.[15] Farouk become fluent in classical Arabic, the language of the Koran, and he always gave his speeches in classical Arabic.[16] As a child Farouk showed a facility for languages, learning Arabic, English, French and Italian, which were the only subjects he excelled in.[15] The more honest of Farouk's tutors often wrote comments on his childhood essays such as "Improve your bad handwriting and pay attention to the cleanliness of your notebook" and "It is regrettable that you not know the history of your ancestors".[15] The more sycophantic of his tutors wrote comments like "Excellent. A brilliant future awaits you in the world of literature" on an essay that began with the sentence "My father had a lot of ministers and I have a cat".[15] Farouk was known for his love of practical jokes, a trait that continued on as an adult, for instance he liked to free the quail that the game keepers had captured on the grounds of the Montaza Palace and he once used an air gun to shoot out the windows at the Koubbeh Palace.[17] When Queen Marie of Romania visited the Koubbeh Palace to see Queen Nazli, Farouk asked her if she wanted to see his two horses; when she answered in the positive, Farouk had the horses brought into the royal harem, which greatly displeased the two queens as the animals defecated all over the floor.[18]

Farouk's closest friend when growing up and later as an adult was the Italian electrician at the Abdeen Palace, Antonio Pulli, who become one of Egypt's most powerful men during his reign.[17] The influence of Farouk's father, the dominating and misogynistic King Fuad together with the influence of his surrogate father Pulli who viewed women only as sex objects, had a major impact on Farouk's attitudes towards the opposite sex.[18] As a teenager, Farouk's favorite place was the garage at the Abdeen Palace where Pulli and the other Italian servants would relate to Farouk their "whore stories".[19] An attempt to enlist Farouk at Eton was thwarted when he failed the entrance exams.[16] Before his father's death, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, England. The Italophile Fuad wanted to have Farouk educated at the Turin Military Academy, but the British High Commissioner Sir Miles Lampson vetoed this choice as growing Italian claims for the entire Mediterranean to be Mare Nostum ("Our Sea") made it unacceptable for the Crown Prince to be educated in Italy.[16] 

In October 1935, Farouk left Egypt to settle at Kenry House in the countryside of Surrey to attend the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as an extramural student.[18] Farouk attended classes occasionally at "the Shop" as the academy was known to prepare himself for the entrance exam.[20] Farouk stayed at Kenry House and twice a week was driven in a Rolls-Royce to the Royal Military Academy to attend classes, but still failed the entrance exam.[20] One of Farouk's tutors, General Aziz Ali al-Misri, complained to King Fuad that the principle problem with Farouk as a student was he never studied and expected the answers to be given to him when he wrote his exam.[21] Instead of studying, Farouk spent his time in London when he went shopping, attended football matches with the Prince of Wales, and visited restaurants and brothels.[22] Farouk's other tutor, the famous desert explorer, Olympic athlete and poet Ahmed Hassanein reported to King Fuad that Farouk was studying hard, but the inability of the crown prince to pass entrance exams supports General al-Misri's reports.[21] When King George V died, Farouk represented Egypt at his funeral in Westminster Abbey.[23]

On 29 April 1936, King Fuad died of a heart-attack and Farouk left England to return to Egypt as king.[23] Farouk's first act as king was to visit Buckingham Palace to accept the condolences of King Edward VIII, one of the few Englishmen whom Farouk liked, and then he went to Victoria station to take a train to Dover and was seen off by the Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden.[24] At Dover, Farouk boarded a French ship, the Côte d'Azur, which took him to Calais.[24] After a stop in Paris to shop and visit the Elysee Palace, Farouk took the train to Marseilles, where he boarded an ocean liner, the Viceroy of India to take him to Alexandria, where he landed on 6 May 1936.[24] Upon landing in Alexandria, Farouk was greeted by huge crowds who shouted "Long live the king of the Nile!" and "Long live the king of Egypt and the Sudan!".[24] In 1936, Farouk was known by his subjects as al malik al mahbub ("the beloved king").[25] Besides inheriting the throne, Farouk also received all of the land that his father had acquired, which amounted to one seventh of all the arable land in Egypt.[26] As the Nile river valley has some of the most fertile and productive farmland in the entire world, this was a considerable asset.[27] Fuad left Farouk a fortune worth about $100 million U.S dollars plus 75, 000 acres of land in the Nile river valley, five palaces, 200 cars and 2 yachts.[27]      

The "beloved king"[edit]

Upon his coronation, the 16-year-old King Farouk made a public radio address to the nation, the first time a sovereign of Egypt had ever spoken directly to his people in such a way:

As Farouk was extremely popular with the Egyptian people, it was decided by the Prime Minister, Ali Maher, that Farouk should not return to Britain as that would be unpopular, though one of the regents, Prince Mohammad Ali, had wanted Farouk to keep trying to be admitted on a full time basis to the Royal Military Academy as a means of getting him out of the country.[28] Since under Egyptian law, women could not inherit the throne, and as such Farouk's cousin Prince Mohammad Ali was next in line to the throne. Prince Mohammad Ali was to spend the next 16 years scheming to depose Farouk so he could become king.[28] Egypt was in the process of negotiating a treaty that would reduce some of the British privileges in Egypt and make the country more independent in exchange for keeping Egypt in the British sphere of influence.[29] The ambitions of Benito Mussolini to dominate the Mediterranean led the Wafd—traditionally the anti-British party—to want to keep the British presence in Egypt, at least as long as Mussolini kept calling the Mediterranean Mare Nostum..[30] For both the Wafd and the British, it was convenient to keep Farouk in Egypt so when he signed the new Anglo-Egyptian treaty, it would not be seen as under duress as it would be if Farouk was living in Britain.[28] Sir Miles Lampson believed he together with assorted other British officials like the king's tutor, Edward Ford, could mould Farouk into an Anglophile.[31] Lampson's plans were derailed when it emerged that Farouk was more interested in duck-hunting than Ford's lectures and that the king had "bragged" he would "have the hell" with the British, saying they had humiliated himself, his family and Egypt for long enough.[31] 

The fact that Farouk had dismissed all of the British servants employed by his father while keeping the Italian servants, suggested he had inherited Fuad's Italophilia.[32] Farouk especially resented Lampson's attempts to set himself up as a surrogate father, finding him impossibly patronising and rude, complaining that at one moment Lampson would address him as a king and the next moment would call him to his face a "naughty boy".[25] Lampson was 55 when Farouk acceded to the throne and he never learned how to treat the teenage Farouk as an equal.[25] Lampson, a huge man who was 6'5 tall, had grown up in the late Victorian era and had the typical views of an upper-class Victorian Englishman, regarding all non-white peoples whether Chinese, Indians, or Egyptians as "inferior races" who needed to be ruled by the British for their own good.[33] Lampson was charmed by Egypt, which he regarded as a wondrous exotic land, but as Arabic was not particularly good, his contacts with ordinary Egyptians were only on an superficial level.[34] Lampson was fluent in French and his social contracts were almost entirely with the Egyptian elite. Lampson wrote in his diary about the death of King Fuad: "Slippery customer though he was, he was an immense factor in the situation here and...we could always in the last resort get him to act in any particular line that we wished".[35] About Farouk, Lampson wrote he did not expect to have "...a young immature King on our hands. I frankly don't know quite how that problem is going to be handled".[35]

Farouk was enamored of the glamorous royal lifestyle. Although he already had thousands of acres of land, dozens of palaces and hundreds of cars, the youthful king often travelled to Europe for grand shopping sprees, earning the ire of many of his subjects. It is said that he ate 600 oysters a week.[36] His personal vehicle was a red 1947 Bentley Mark VI, with coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi; he dictated that, other than the military jeeps which made up the rest of his entourage, no other cars were to be painted red.[37] In 1951, he bought the pear-shaped 94-carat Star of the East Diamond and a fancy-coloured oval-cut diamond from jeweller Harry Winston.

A banquet organised on the occasion of the wedding of King Farouk I and Queen Farida of Egypt. The persons appearing in the photograph are (from left to right):
Princess Nimet Mouhtar (1876–1945), Farouk's paternal aunt;
King Farouk I (1920–1965), the groom;
Queen Farida (1921–1988), the bride;
Sultana Melek (1869–1956), widow of Hussein Kamel, Farouk's paternal uncle;
Prince Muhammad Ali Ibrahim (1900–1977), Farouk's 2nd cousin once removed.

He was most popular in his early years, and the nobility largely celebrated him. For example, during the accession of the young King Farouk, "the Abaza family had solicited palace authorities to permit the royal train to stop briefly in their village so that the king could partake of refreshments offered in a large, magnificently ornamented tent the family had erected in the train station."[38] The Chief Accountant to Farouk was Yadidya Israel. However, secretly he worked with the Free Officers Movement to overthrow Farouk. The ironies of history also meant that the Abaza family's own Wagih Abaza was in the Free Officers movement that removed the King in 1952, later becoming governor of six governorates in post-Farouk Egypt.[39][40][41]

Farouk's accession initially was encouraging for the populace and nobility, due to his youth and Egyptian roots through his mother Nazli Sabri. However, the situation was not the same with some Egyptian politicians and elected government officials, with whom Farouk quarrelled frequently, despite their loyalty in principle to his throne. There was also the issue of the continuous British involvement in the Egyptian government, which Farouk struggled to resist. Farouk's accession had changed the dynamic of Egyptian politics from being a struggle of an unpopular king vs. the popular Wafd party as it was under his father to that of a popular Wafd vs. an even more popular king.[42] The Wafd party led by Nahas Pasha, had been the most popular party in Egypt since it had been founded in 1919, and the Wafd leaders felt threatened by Farouk's popularity with ordinary Egyptians.[42] Right from the start of Farouk's reign, the Wafd-who claimed to speak alone for Egypt's masses-saw Farouk as a threat and Nahas Pasha worked constantly to clip the king's power, confirming the prejudices that Farouk had inherited from his father against the Wafd.[43] When Nahas and the other Wafd leaders travelled to London to sign the Anglo-Egyptian treaty in August 1936, they stopped over in Switzerland to hold discussions with former Khedive Abbas II about how best to despose Farouk and put Abbas back on the throne. [28]

The dominant figure in the Wafd was Makram Ebeid, the man widely considered to be the most intelligent Egyptian politician of the interwar era.[44] Ebeid was a Coptic Christian, which made it unacceptable for him to be prime minister of Muslim majority Egypt, and so he exercised power via his protege Nahas, who was the official party leader.[44] Leaders in the Wafd like Ali Maher, opposed to Ebeid and Nahas, looked to Farouk as a rival source of patronage and power.[44] Both Ebeid and Nahas disliked Maher, regarding him as an intriguer and an opportunist, and found a further reason to dislike him even more when Maher became Farouk's favorite political adviser.[45] The nationalistic Wafd Party was the most powerful political machine in Egypt, and when the Wafd was in power, it tended to be very corrupt and nepotistic.[46] Those who excluded from the chance to be corrupt like Maher Pasha made much of the corruption, in particular the baleful influence of Nahas Pasha's dominating wife who insisted on giving high government jobs to members of her family, no matter how unqualified they were.[46] Through the Wafd Party had been founded in 1919 as the anti-British party, the fact that Nahas Pasha championed the 1936 treaty as the best way of keeping Mussolini from conquering Egypt as he done Ethiopia, paradoxically led Lampson to favor Nahas and the Wafd as the most pro-British party, in turn leading opponents of the Wafd to attack them for "selling out" by signing a treaty which allowed the British to keep their garrisons in Egypt.[47] As Farouk could not stand the overbearing Lampson, and saw the Wafd as his enemies, the king naturally aligned himself with the anti-Wafd factions and those who saw the treaty as a "sell out".[48] Lampson personally favored deposing Farouk and putting his cousin Prince Mohammad Ali on the throne in order to keep the Wafd in power, but feared that a coup carried out by the British Army would destroy the popular legitimacy of Nahas.[49]

Despite the regency council, Farouk was determined to exercise his royal prerogatives. When Farouk asked for a new railroad station to be built outside of the Montazah palace, the council refused under the grounds that station was only used twice a year by the royal family when they arrived at the Montazah palace to escape the summer heart in Cairo and when they returned to Cairo in the fall.[50] Unwilling to take no for an answer, Farouk called out his servants and led them to demolish the station, forcing the regency council to approve building a new station.[51] To coutnerbalace the Wafd, Farouk from the time he arrived back in Egypt started to use Islam as a political weapon, always attending the Friday prayers at the local mosques, donating to Islamic charties, and courting the Muslim Brotherhood, the only group capable of rivialling the Wafd in terms of the ability to mobilize the masses.[25] Farouk was known in his early years as the "pious king" as unlike his predecessors he went out of his way to be seen as a devout Muslim.[25] The Egyptian historian Laila Morsy wrote that Nahas never really tried to reach an understanding with the Palace, and treated Farouk as an enemy from the start, seeing him as a threat to the Wafd.[43] The Wafd ran a powerful patronage machine in rural Egypt and the enthusiastic response of the fellaheen to the king as he threw gold coins at them during his tours of the countryside was viewed by Nahas as a major threat.[44] Nahas sought to prevent the king from "parading" himself before the masses, claiming that the king's royal tours cost the government too much money, and as the Wafd was a secularist party, charged that Farouk's overt religiosity violated the constitution.[43] However, the attacks by the secularist Wafd on Farouk for being too pious a Muslim estranged conservative Muslim opinion who rallied in defense of the "pious king".[52] As the Coptic Christian minority tended to vote as a bloc for the Wafd and many promienet Wafd leaders like Ebeid were Copts, the Wafd was widely seen as the "Coptic party".[44] The aggressive defense by Nahas of securalism as a core principle of Egyptian life and his attacks against the king as a danger for being a devout Muslim led to a backlash and the charge that securalism was merely a device for allowing the Coptic Christian minority to dominate Egypt at the expense of the Muslim Arab majority.[44]

Sir Edward Ford who served as the king's tutor described him as a relaxed, gregarious and easy-going teenager who was first act upon meeting him in Alexandria was to take him swimming in the Mediterranean.[53] However, Ford described Farouk incapable of learning and "totally incapable of concentration".[54] When whenever Ford began a lesson, Farouk would immediately find a way to end it by insisting that he take Ford out for a drive to see the Egyptian countryside.[55] In an interview in 1990, Ford described Farouk as: "He was half a private schoolboy of nine or ten and half a sophisticated young men of twenty-three, able to sit next to a great man like Lord Rutherford and impress him a great deal, usually by bluffing. He did have a very good eye, a royal eye, In England, he was able to spot the most valuable rare book in the Trinity College library in Cambridge. It may have been pure luck. But it impressed everyone. And he spoke wonderful English and Arabic".[55] In turn, Farouk explained to Ford why upper-class Egyptian men were still using the titles left over from the Ottoman empire such as pasha, bey and effendi, which Ford learned that a pasha was equivalent to being an aristocrat, a bey was equivalent to a title of knighthood and a effendi to being an esquire.[51] Ford wrote in his notebook: "A pasha may perhaps be defined as a person who looks important, a bey thinks himself important, an effendi hopes to be important".[51] When Faruok went on his tour of Upper Egypt in January 1937, going down the Nile on the royal yacht Kassed el Kheir, Ford complained that Farouk never asked for a single lesson as he was more interested in watching the latest films from Hollywood.[56] Despite the fact that Upper Egypt was the most poorest region in Egypt, various mudirs (governors) and sheikhs held camel races, gymnastic events, stick boxing matches, banquets and concerts in honor of the king, which led Ford to write of a "record of unrivaled stardom, of which Greta Garbo might well be envious".[57]

On 29 June 1937, Farouk turned 17 under the Islamic lunar calendar, and since in the Islamic world, a baby is considered to be one year old at the time of birth, by Muslim standards, he was celebrating his 18th birthday.[58] As he considered 18, he thus attained his majority and the Regency Council, which had so irked Farouk so much, was dissolved.[58] Farouk's coronation, held in Cairo, on 20 July 1937, outdid the coronation of George VI, which just taken place in May, as Farouk held larger parades and fireworks displays than had taken place in London.[59] For his coronation, Farouk reduced the fares on the Nile streamers and at least two million fellaheen (Egyptian peasants) took advantage of the price cut to attend his coronation in Cairo.[58] Farouk's coronation speech implicitly criticized the land-owning Turco-Circassian elite of he himself was a part of, as Farouk declared: "The poor are not responsible for their poverty but rather the wealthy. Give to the poor what they merit without their asking. A king is a good king when the poor of the land have the right to live, when the sick have the right to be healed, when the timid have the right to be tranquil and when the ignorant have the right to learn".[60] Farouk's coronation speech, which was unexpectedly poetic, was written by his tutor, the poet Prince Ahmed Hassanein, who felt that the king should present himself as the friend of the fellaheen to undercut the populist Wafd Party.[60]   Further cementing Farouk's popularity was the announcement made on 24 August 1937 that he was engaged to Safinaz Zulficar, the daughter of an Alexandria judge.[61] Farouk's decision to marry a commoner instead of a member of the Turco-Circassian aristocracy increased his popularity with the Egyptian people.[61] 

The marriage of the king and a commoner was presented to the world as matter of romantic love, but in fact the marriage had been arranged by Queen Nazli, who herself was a commoner and did not want her son to marry a princess from the Turco-Circassian elite who would outrank her.[61] Queen Nazli had chosen Zulficar as her daughter-in-law because she was 15 years old and thus presumably could be molded; came from an upper middle class family like herself and was fluent in French, the language of Egypt's elite.[61] Zulficar's mother was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Nazli, which was how she was chosen to be the queen of Egypt.[61] Zulficar's father refused to give permission for the marriage under the grounds that his daughter was 15 and too young for to be married, and decided to take a vacation in Beirut.[62] Unwilling to take no for an answer, Farouk phoned the police chief of Alexandria, who arrested Judge Zulficar as he was boarding the ship for Beirut, and the judge was taken to the Montaza Palace.[62] At the Montaza palace, Farouk was waiting and bribed Judge Zulficar into granting permission for the marriage by making him into a pasha.[62] At Salfinaz Zulficar's 16th birthday party, Farouk arrived in his Alfa Romeo automobile to propose marriage, and at the same time renamed her Farida because he believed names that started with F were lucky.[62] Safinaz is Farsi for "pure rose" while Farida is Arabic for "the only one"; Farouk's decision to give his bride an Arabic name appealed to the masses.[62] Farouk gave Farida a cheque for a sum in Egyptian pounds equivalent to $50, 000 US dollars as a wedding dowry and a diamond ring worth just as much for the engagement.[62] Outside of the Ras El Tin Palace, when the wedding was announced, 22 people were crushed to death and 140 badly injured when the crowd rushed forward to hear the news.[62] 

In the fall of 1937, Farouk dismissed the Wafd government headed by Prime Minister Mostafa El-Nahas and replaced him as Prime Minister with Mohamed Mahmoud Pasha.[63] The immediate issue were Nahas's attempts to dismiss Farouk's chef de cabinet Ali Maher together with Farouk's Italian servants, but the more general issue was who would rule Egypt: the Crown or Parliament?[63] As a number of ministers in the new government were pro-Italian at the same time that Mussolini was increasing the number of Italian troops in Libya, Farouk's move was seen as pro-Italian and anti-British. Lampson delivered what he called a "little lecture" to Farouk, reporting to London: "It will be fatal if the boy [Farouk] comes to think he is invincible and can play any trick he likes. Personally I have always liked him and he certainly has a most remarkable intelligence and courage-one begins to fear almost too much of the latter".[63] At a meeting at the Abdeen Palace in December 1937, where Lampson declared that London was opposed to the Mahmoud government, Lampson reported: "I found him rather baffling to deal with-in extraordinary good humour and apparently taking the whole thing rather flippantly whist at times relapsing into a very 'kingly' attitude".[64] Farouk told Lampson that he didn't care if the Wafd had a majority in Parliament as he was the king and he wanted a prime minister who would obey him, not Parliament.[64] Lampson ended the meeting by saying Quos deus vult perdere prius demntat ("Those God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad").[64]

On 20 January 1938, Farouk married Farida in a sumptuous public event with Cairo lit up by floodlights and colored lights on the public buildings while boat on the Nile had likewise had colored nights, making the river seem a ribbon of light at night.[65] Farida wore a wedding dress that Farouk had brought her, which was handmade in Paris and cost about $30, 000 US dollars.[66] The royal wedding made Farouk even more popular with the Egyptian people, and he dissolved parliament for elections in April 1938 with the full prestige and wealth of the Crown being used to support parties opposed to the Wafd.[64] The prime minister, Nahas Pasha, used the familiar Wafd slogan "The king reigns; he does not rule", but the Wafd suffered a massive defeat in the election.[64] Farouk broke with Muslim tradition by taking Queen Farida everywhere with him, and letting her go unveiled.[67] The marriage was not consummated at first as Farouk apparently was afraid of Farida seeing his abnormally small penis, a matter which he was most sensitive about.[68] On 17 November 1938, Farouk became a father when Farida gave birth to Princess Farial, a considerable disappointment as Farouk wanted a son, all the more because he knew his cousin, Prince Mohammad Ali, was scheming to take the throne.[69] In April 1939, the German propaganda minister, Dr. Josef Goebbels, visited Cairo and received a warm welcome from the king.[70] In August 1939, Farouk appointed his favorite politician Maher Pasha prime minister.[71]

World War II[edit]

Egypt remained neutral in World War II, but under heavy pressure from Lampson, Farouk broke diplomatic relations with Germany in September 1939.[72] On 7 April 1940, Queen Farida gave birth to Princess Fawzia, which greatly upset Farouk who wanted a son.[73] After the birth of Princess Fawzia, Farouk's marriage started to become stained as he wanted a son.[74] In Egypt, sons are much more valued than daughters, and Farouk was widely viewed as lacking masculinity because of a lack of a son.[68] Farouk consulted various doctors, whom advised him to eat foods that were felt to increase the sex drive, and Farouk became something of a bulimic, eating excessively and became overweight.[68] Under the 1936 treaty, Britain had the right to "defend" Egypt from an invasion, which turned the Western Desert of Egypt into a battlefield when Italy declared war on Britain on 10 June 1940 and invaded Egypt.[75] Maher declared Cairo an "open city" under international law, which in theory would require the British forces to leave Cairo as no military forces are allowed in an "open city", but the British simply disregarded the declaration.[76] Under the 1936 treaty, the Egyptians were obligated to assist the British with logistical services, but Maher frustrated this by appointing corrupt bureaucrats to positions such as presidency of the Egyptian state railroad who demanded baksheesh in exchange for co-operating.[76] Owning to the strategic importance of Egypt, ultimately 2 million soldiers from Britain, Australia, India and New Zealand arrived in Egypt and set off a massive bout of inflation that destabilised the Egyptian economy, making the war years a period of hardship and suffering for ordinary Egyptians.[77]  

Farouk was greatly upset in 1940 when he learned that his mother, Queen Nazli, whom he viewed as a rather chaste figure, was having affair with his former tutor, Prince Ahmed Hassanein, who as a desert explorer, poet, Olympic athlete and aviator, was one of the most famous Egyptians alive.[74] When Farouk caught Hassanein reading passages from the Koran to his mother in her bedroom, he pulled out a handgun and threatened to shoot them, saying "you are disgracing the memory of my father, and if I end it by killing one of you, then God will forgive me, for it is according to our holy law as you both know".[78] Distracting Farouk from thoughts of matricide was a meeting on 17 June 1940 with Lampson who demanded that Farouk dismiss Maher as prime minister and General al-Misri as chief of staff of the Egyptian Army, saying both were pro-Axis.[75] Lampson wrote to London: "I repeated I hoped that he realized we were in deadly earnest. He said he knew that full well, and cryptically, that so was he".[79]

On 28 June 1940, Farouk dismissed Maher Pasha as prime minister, but refused to appoint Nahas Pasha as prime minister as Lampson wanted, saying that Nahas was full of "Bolshevik schemes".[79] The new prime minister was Hassan Sabry, whom Lampson felt was acceptable, and despite his previous threats to kill him, Prince Hassanein was made chef de cabinet.[79] Prince Hassanein had been educated at Oxford University and unusually for an Egyptian, was an Anglophile, having fond memories of his time in England when he studied at Oxford.[79] Lampson had come to detest Farouk by this time, and his favorite advice to London was "the only thing to do is kick the boy out".[79] In November 1940, the Prime Minister Sabry died of a heart attack when delivering his opening speech to Parliament and was replaced with Hussein Serry Pasha.[80] Farouk felt very lonely as a king, not having any real friends, made worse by the very public feud between Queen Farida and Queen Nazli as the former hated the latter for her attempts to dominate her.[81] Maher had made contacts on behalf of the king with General al-Misri, on "sick leave" since June 1940; with a group of anti-British officers in the Egyptian Army, and Hassan el Banna, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, to discuss a possible anti-British uprising when the Axis broke through the British lines.[82] Egypt was together with the American South one of the few places in the world suitable for growing cotton, a water-intensive and labor-intensive crop that was traditionally known as "white gold" owning to the high prices it fetched. World War II created a huge demand for cotton, and after the United States entered the war in late 1941, so many American men were called up for service with the armored forces that Egypt became the only source of cotton for the Allies. For those who owned farmland in Egypt on which cotton was grown, the Second World War was a time of prosperity as the high prices of cotton counteracted the effects of wartime inflation.[83] As only a few Egyptians owned farmland, a situation was created where the rich got richer while the poor got poorer.  

During the hardships of the Second World War, criticism was levelled at Farouk for his lavish lifestyle. His decision not to put out the lights at his palace in Alexandria when the city was blacked out because of German and Italian bombing was deemed particularly offensive by the Egyptian people. This was a large contrast to the British royal family back in England, who were well known to have an opposite reaction to the bombings near their home. Owing to the continuing British occupation of Egypt, many Egyptians, Farouk included, were positively disposed towards Germany and Italy, and despite the presence of British troops, Egypt remained officially neutral until the final year of the war. Consequently, Farouk's Italian servants were not interned, and there is an unconfirmed story that Farouk told British Ambassador Sir Miles Lampson (who had an Italian wife), "I'll get rid of my Italians when you get rid of yours". In addition, Farouk was known for harbouring certain Axis sympathies and even sending a note to Adolf Hitler saying that an invasion would be welcome.[84] In January 1942, when Farouk was away on vacation, Lampson pressured Serry Pasha into breaking diplomatic relations with Vichy France.[85] As the king was not consulted about the serving of ties with Vichy France, Farouk used this violation of the constitution as an excuse to dismiss Serry and announced he planned to appoint Maher as prime minister again.[86]  

Following a ministerial crisis in February 1942, the British government, through its ambassador in Egypt, Sir Miles Lampson, pressed Farouk to have a Wafd or Wafd-coalition government replace Hussein Sirri Pasha's government. Lampson had Sir Walter Monckton flown in from London to draft an abdication degree for Farouk to sign as Monckton had drafted the abdication degree for Edward VIII and it was agreed that Prince Mohammad Ali would become the new king.[87] Lampson wanted to depose Farouk, but General Robert Stone and Oliver Lyttleton both argued that if Farouk agreed to appoint Nahas Pasha prime minister that the public reaction to "throwing the boy out for giving us at 9 P.M the answer which we should have welcomed at 6 P.M." would be highly negative.[88] Reluctantly, Lampson agreed that Farouk could stay if he agreed to make Nahas prime minister.[88] Farouk asked his military how long the Egyptian Army could hold Cairo against the British and was told two hours.[89] On the night of 4 February 1942, British troops and tanks surrounded Abdeen Palace in Cairo and Lampson presented Farouk with an ultimatum. While a battalion of British infantry took up their positions around the palace with the roar of tanks could be heard in the distance, Lampson arrived at the Abdeen Palace in his Rolls-Royce together with General Stone.[88] As the doors to Abdeen Palace were locked, one of the British officers used his revolver to shoot open the door and Lampson stormed in, demanding to see the king at once.[88] Farouk initially started to sign the abdication degree that Lampson had placed on his desk, but Prince Hassanein, who was present as a sort of mediator, intervened and spoke to Farouk in Turkish, a language which he knew that Lampson did not speak.[90] Unknown to Lampson, three of Farouk's Albanian bodyguards were hiding behind the curtains in his study with orders to shoot the British ambassador if he should touch Farouk.[91] Prince Hassanein's intervention had its effect, and Farouk turned to Lampson to say he was giving in.[90] Farouk capitulated, and Nahhas formed a government shortly thereafter. However, the humiliation meted out to Farouk, and the actions of the Wafd in co-operating with the British and taking power, lost support for both the British and the Wafd among both civilians and, more importantly, the military. With this, Farouk's popularity seemed to decrease significantly, especially with the rise of Arab nationalism, many of the people in the country viewed him as a puppet to the powers of the West.

After the humiliation of the Abdeen Palace incident, Farouk lost interest in politics for the moment, and abandoned himself to a lifestyle of hedonism as he become obsessed with "collecting" women by sleeping with them, having his closest friend, the Italian valet, Antonio Pulli, bring in fair-skinned women from the dance halls and brothels of Cairo and Alexandria to his palaces for sex.[92] Despite his great wealth, Farouk was a kleptomaniac who always took something valuable such as a painting or a piano from whatever member of the Egyptian elite he stayed with, as no one could say no to the king and if he indicated he wanted something, his subjects had to give it to him.[93] For this reason, members of Egypt's elite hated having the king as a guest, knowing he would be taking something from them when he stayed.[94] Farouk had a proprietary attitude towards women, regarding it as one of his royal prerogatives that he had the right to sleep with any women he desired and utterly refused to take no for an answer.[95] When one of the daughters of the Ades family, one of the richest Jewish families in Egypt, rebuffed Farouk's advances, he arrived unannounced at the Ades family's estate on an island in the Nile with Pulli telling the Adeses that the king had come to hunt the gazlles.[95] Rather than have the kleptomaniac Farouk stay at their estate and wipe out the gazelle on their island, the Adeses agreed that their 16 year old daughter would go to the Abdeen palace to be courted by the king.[96]

Besides for women, Farouk had something of a mania for collecting things ranging from Coca-Cola bottles to European art to ancient Egyptian antiques.[97] Farouk also become addicted to eating and drinking soft-drinks, ordering his French chefs at the Abdeen palace to cook enormous meals of the finest French food, which he devoured and which caused him to become obese.[98] Farouk came to be known as "the king of the night" owning to the amount of time he spent in the exclusive Auberge des Pyramides nightclub in Cairo, where he spent his time socializing, smoking cigars and drinking orangeade.[99] Farouk also indulged in much childish behavior at the Auberge des Pyramides like throwing bread balls at the other patrons and dropping ice cubes like down the cleavage of women with dresses that exposed their décolletage.[99] Farouks's grandfather, Ismail the Magnificent, had rebuilt Cairo in the style of Paris and during Farouk's reign, Cairo was considered to be a glamorous city, the most Westernized and wealthy city in the Middle East.[100] As a result, various celebrities from the West were constantly passing through Cairo and were invited to socialize with the king.[101]  

In the time honored fashion, the Wafd government headed by Nahas proved to be an extremely corrupt and Nahas is widely considered to be one of the most corrupt Egyptian prime ministers of all time.[102] Nahas fell out with his patron, Makram Ebeid and expelled him from the Wafd at the instigation of his wife.[83] Ebeid retaliated with The Black Book, a detailed expose published in the spring of 1943 listing 108 cases of major corruption involving Nahas and his wife.[83] Farouk attempted to use the furor  caused by The Black Book as an excuse to dismiss the extremely unpopular Nahas, who had become Egypt's most hated man, but Lampson warned him via Prince Hassanein that he would be deposed if he dismissed his prime minister.[103] At the same time, Farouk, notwithstanding his own frequent unfaithfulness, had become enraged when he learned that Queen Farida was having an affair with the British painter, Simon Elwes, whom had to flee Egypt to escape.[104] Lampson taunted Farouk when he learned that Queen Fardia was pregnant again, saying he hoped she was bearing a son and that the boy was Farouk's.[104]

One of Farouk's mistresses, Irene Guinle, who was his "official mistress" in the years 1941-43, described him as something of an immature "man-child" having no interest in politics and given to childish behavior liking making bread balls at restaurants "...to flip at the fancy people coming in and watch how they'd act when he hit the mark. How he roared with that laugh".[105] Guinle in an interview stated: "Farouk never wrote a letter, never read a paper, never listened to music. His idea of culture was movies. He never even played cards until I made the mistake of buying him a 'shoe' and teaching him how to play chemin de fer. He got hooked on that. Farouk was an insomniac. He had three telephones by his bed, which he would use to ring up his so-called friends at three in the morning and invite them to come over to his palace to play cards. No one could refuse the king".[106] Guinele added: "Farouk had no complex about anything, except that he was so sure of himself, it become a complex. He was very clean, with impeccable manners, except the loved to burp all the time to annoy people. He always slept naked...He was incredibly lazy. He never even went for walks. When we would go into the palace gardens, supposedly for a walk, he would sit on the bench and watch me walk. In his mind, not having to do a thing was what being a king was all about".[107] Guinle mentioned that Farouk had a fetish for Jewish women, saying: "He was fascinated by the fact I was a Jewess. The only person Farouk ever listened to was his father, Fuad. Fuad was his oracle, and Fuad told him that the best women in the world were Jewish women, especially when they were cultured. The love of Fuad's life was Mrs. Suarez, a leader of the Jewish community in Cairo. Not only did they have a passionate affair for twenty years, but she pushed the English into making Fuad king, whom according to the laws of succession was not next in line for the throne"..[108]  

Another of Farouk's mistresses, the British novelist Barbara Skelton who replaced Guinle as the "official mistress" in 1943, in an interview said about the king: "He was something of a hermaphrodite, really more woman than man. He wasn't a good lover at all, though he did kiss rather nicely. The sex was quick...It gave me no pleasure whatsoever".[109] However, Skelton stated that Farouk was very good at spanking her, saying she was very "passive" and enjoyed being dominated sexually by powerful men.[110] Skelton described Farouk as having a very small penis, a matter which he was extremely sensitive about as Skelton stated: "You know, he made jokes about absolutely everything, about starting to get fat and losing his hair, about the British treating him so shabbily, but he never, ever joked about the size of his penis. Never".[109] Skelton called Farouk very immature and "a complete philistine", saying: "He was very adolescent. He didn't have the stuff to be a great king, he was too childish. But he never lost his temper, he was incredibly sweet, with a good sense of humor".[110]

In November 1943, Farouk went driving in his red Cadillac to Ismalia to see a yacht he just purchased when he was involved in an automobile incident when his attempt to bypass a British Army truck by speeding caused him to hit another car head-on..[111] At attempt to place Farouk on a stretcher failed when the grossly overweight king turned out to be too heavy, causing the stretcher to break under his weight.[111] Farouk had suffered two broken ribs as a result of the car accident, but he liked being in a British Army hospital so much, flirting with the nurses, that he pretended to be injured far longer than what he really was.[112] As a result, Farouk missed the Cairo Conference when the U.S president Franklin Roosevelt, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek all arrived in Cairo to discuss war plans against Japan for 1944, through he appeared to have no regrets, preferring to spend his time flirting with the nurses and buying them gifts that were worth more than their annual salaries.[113] On 15 December 1943, Farouk was finally forced to end his convalescence when Farida gave birth to another daughter, Princess Fadia, which disappointed him, and caused him to lash out in anger against her for only giving him daughters.[113] Reflecting a continuing interest in the Balkans, the region where his family came from, Farouk by 1943 hosted King Zog of Albania, King Peter II of Yugoslavia and King George II of Greece, telling all three kings that he wanted Egypt to play a role in the Balkans after the war as he was proud of his Albanian ancestry.[113]      

In April 1944, Farouk attempted to sack Nahas as prime minister over the latter's response to the malaria epidemic in Upper Egypt. [114] Reflecting the importance of controlling patronage in Egypt, Nahas Pasha had gone on a separate relief tour of Upper Egypt apart from the king and founded a relief organization, the Nahas Institute, in his own name instead of the king as was normal to treat the thousands sickened with malaria.[114] Farouk attempted to soften the blow by announcing the new prime minister would be the well known Anglophile Prince Hassanein, but Lampson refused to accept him.[114] Lampson attempted to have Farouk deposed again, sending off a telegram to Churchill advising that Britain take "direct control" of Egypt.[114] Lampson once again threatened Farouk, who remained flippant and dismissive.[115] When Prince Hassanein tried to persuade Lampson to accept the dismissal of the deeply corrupt Wafd government as an improvement, the ambassador was unmoved, leading the normally Anglophile Hassanein to say the Egyptians were getting tired of British interference in their internal affairs.[116] The day before he was due to be deposed, Prince Hassanein arrived at the British Embassy with a letter for Lampson saying: "I am commanded by His Majesty to inform Your Excellency that he has decided to leave the present Government in Office for the time being".[117] In October 1944, when Lampson went away for a vacation in South Africa, Farouk finally dismissed Nahas as prime minister on 8 October 1944 and replaced him with Ahmed Maher, the brother of Ali Maher.[118] The dismissal of Nahas was seen by Lampson as a personal defeat, who complained in his diary the British would never have a politician "in our pocket" like him again, and was seen as a decisive turning point when Farouk had finally outwitted Lampson.[119]  

On 6 November 1944, Lord Moyne, the junior British foreign minister in charge of Middle Eastern affairs was assassinated in Cairo by two members of the extreme right-wing Zionist group, Lehi, better known as the Stern Gang.[120] The two assassins, Eliyahu Bet-Zuri and Eliyahu Hakim, gunned down Lord Moyne and his chauffeur, but were then captured by the Cairo police.[120] Afterwards, Bet-Zuri and Hakim were tried and sentenced to death by an Egyptian court.[121] Farouk came under strong pressure from American Zionist groups to pardon the two assassins while Lampson pressured him not to pardon the assassins.[121] In March 1945, the assassins of Lord Moyne were hanged, and for the first time, Farouk was accused in the United States of being anti-Semitic.[122]   Farouk declared war on the Axis Powers only under heavy British pressure in 1945, long after the fighting in Egypt's Western Desert had ceased.[123] During Churchill's visit to Egypt in February 1945, Farouk learned from him that only nations that were at war with the Axis powers would be allowed to join the new United Nations, which would replace the League of Nations after the war.[124]

In 1919, it had been a great humiliation for the Egyptians that Egypt had been excluded from the Paris peace conference that led to the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, causing the revolution of 1919.[125] Farouk was determined that this time that Egypt would be a founding member of the United Nations, which would show the world that the country was ending its semi-colonial relationship with Britain.[125] On 24 February 1945, Prime Minister Maher had the Chamber of Deputies issue declarations of war against German and Japan, and as he was leaving the Chamber, he was assassinated by Mahmoud Isawi, a member of the pro-Axis Young Egypt Society.[125] Isawi was shaking Maher's hand and then pulled out his handgun, shooting the prime minister three times while screaming that he had betrayed Egypt by declaring war on Germany and Japan.[125] When Lampson arrived at the Koubbeh Palace to see Farouk, he wrote he was shocked instead to see instead "...it was the wicked Aly Maer who was receiving condolences".[126] The new prime minister, Mahmoud El Nokrashy Pasha demanded that the British finally keep the terms of the 1936 treaty by pulling out of the Nile river valley while university students rioted in Cairo demanding the British leave Egypt altogether.[126] Lampson by 1945 was widely seen in Whitehall as a Victorian anachronism, whose "white man's burden" view of Anglo-Egyptian relations was unrealistic and only Lampson's friendship with Churchill, who shared his views about maintaining the British Empire, kept him on as an ambassador in Cairo.[127] The new Labour government that came into office in July 1945 wanted a new relationship with Egypt, and Farouk let it be known he wanted a new British ambassador.[127] The new Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, a man of working class origins, found the aristocratic Lampson to be a snob, and moreover Lampson's vehement disapproval of the Labour government's policy towards India further isolated him.[128] For all these reasons, Bevin was well disposed to Farouk's entreaties to replace Lampson.[129]      

"Things fall apart"[edit]

Egypt ended the Second World War as the richest country in the Middle East, owning largely to the high prices of cotton.[130] In 1945 in a reversal of the usual roles, Egypt was a creditor nation to Great Britain as Britain owed Egypt £400 million pounds sterling.[130] The stark income disparities of Egyptian society meant the wealth of Egypt was very unequally distributed with the kingdom having 500 millionaires while the fellaheen lived in extreme poverty.[130] In 1945, a medical study showed that 80% of Egyptians suffered from bilharzia and ophthalmia, both diseases that were easily preventable and treatable.[130] The authors of the study noted both bilharzia and ophthalmia were spread by waterborne parasitic worms, and the prevalence of both diseases could easily be eliminated in Egypt by providing people with safe sources of drinking water. The bumbling response of the Egyptian authorities to the cholera epidemic in 1947 that killed 80, 000 people was an additional cause of criticism as cholera is caused by drinking water contaminated with feces, and the entire epidemic could have been avoided if only ordinary Egyptians had sources of clean drinking water.[130] King Farouk had traditionally posed as the friend of the poor, but by 1945 such gestures that the king liked to engage in such as throwing gold coins at the fellaheen or dropping Ping-Pong balls from his plane that could be redeemed for candy were not longer felt to be sufficient.[130]   Increasingly, demands were being made that the king should engage in social reforms instead of theatrical gestures like handing out gold coins during royal visits, and as Farouk was unwilling to consider land reform or improving the water sanitation, his popularity began to decline.[130]

Farouk's chief advisers in ruling Egypt starting in 1945 were his "kitchen cabinet" consisting of his right-hand man, Antonio Pulli together with the king's Lebanese press secretary Karim Thabet; Elias Andraous, an ethnic Greek from Alexandria whom Farouk valued for his business skills; and Edmond Galhan, a Lebanese arms dealer whose official title was "general purveyor to the Royal Palaces", but whose real job was to engage in black market activities for the king.[131] Prince Hassanein warned Farouk against his "kitchen cabinet", saying all of them were greedy, unscrupulous men who abusing the king's trust to enrich themselves, but Farouk disregarded his advice.[132] In February 1946, Prince Hassanein was killed in an automobile accident, and after his death was found a secret marriage contract between him and Queen Nazli that was dated 1937, which infuriated Farouk.[133]      

After much lobbying on the part of Farouk, the new Labour government in London decided to replace Lampson with Sir Ronald Campbell as the British ambassador in Cairo, and on 9 March 1946 Lampson left Cairo, much to the king's glee.[129] In June 1946, Farouk granted asylum to Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who escaped from France where he was being held on charges of being a war criminal, arriving in Egypt on a forged passport.[134] Farouk did not care that al-Husseini, one of the most dangerous and ruthless men in the Middle East and a fanatical Islamist and anti-Semite for whom violence was always the best solution, was urgently wanted in Yugoslavia on charges of being a Nazi war criminal for his role in organizing the massacres of Bosnian Serbs and Jews.[135] Farouk wanted the British to keep the 1936 agreement by pulling their troops out of Cairo and Alexandria, and felt having notoriously Anglophobic rabble-rousing Grand Mufti in Egypt would be an useful way of threatening them.[136] However, the way that Farouk addressed al-Hussenini as the "king of Jerusalem" appeared to suggest that he envisioned the Grand Mufti as the future leader of a Palestinian state.[137] Starting in June 1946, the British did finally pull out of the Nile river valley and henceforward the only place the British Army were stationed at in Egypt was at the gigantic base around the Suez Canal.[138] In August 1946, the British pulled out of the Citadel in Cairo, and Farouk beamed as the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the Egyptian flag went up over the Citadel for the first time since 1882.[128] By September 1946, the British pull-out from the Nile valley was complete.[129]

Having the charismatic al-Husseini in Egypt had the effect of focusing attention on the Palestine issue, a matter which most Egyptians had previously ignored, all the more so when al-Husseini made an alliance with Hassan al-Banna, the Supreme Guide of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which was rapidly becoming the most powerful mass movement in Egypt with over a million members.[139] Farouk himself was not personally anti-Semitic, having a Jewish mistress, the singer Lilianne Cohen, better known by her stage name Camelia, but given increasing discount with the very stark income inequalities in Egypt, Farouk felt taking a militantly anti-Zionist line was the best way of distracting public attention.[140] At the Royal Automobile Club in Cairo, Farouk engaged in all night gambling sessions with rich Egyptian Jews despite his professed anti-Zionism and often joked: "Bring me my Zionist enemies so I can take their money!"[141] In December 1947, a summit of the leaders of the Arab League was held in Cairo to discuss what to do when the British Mandate of Palestine came to an end in May 1948.[142] King Abduallah I of Jordan wanted all of Palestine for himself and dismissed Farouk as a pseudo-Arab who should not even be attending the summit, saying with reference to Farouk's Albanian ancestry: "You do not make a gentleman out of a Balkan farmer's son simply by making him a king".[142]

In May 1948, the prime minister Mahmoud El Nokrashy Pasha advised against going to war with Israel, saying the Egyptian Army was not ready for war.[143] However, King Farouk overruled him, as he feared the growing popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was clamoring for war with Israel.[143] Farouk declared that Egypt would fight Israel as otherwise he feared the Muslim Brotherhood would overthrow him.[143] The war with Israel ended in disaster with the Egyptian Army fighting very poorly despite having a 40 to 1 numerical superiority, and Edmond Galhan of the king's "kitchen cabinet" making a fortune by selling the Egyptian Army defective Italian Army rifles left over from World War II, a matter which greatly angered many Egyptian officers.[143] Through the defective rifles were not the only reason why Egypt was defeated, many Egyptians came to be fixated on the issue, believing if it were not for Galhan, then Egypt would have been victorious.[143]

The Muslim Brotherhood, which been so hawkish on war with Israel, turned its fury against the government in reaction to the defeats inflicted by Israel and in October 1948, a Brother killed the Cairo police chief, followed up by the governor of the Cairo province.[144] On 17 November 1948, Farouk divorced the very popular Queen Farida, which coming in middle of the losing war with Israel, was a profound shock to the Egyptian people.[145] On the same day, the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, divorced Princess Fawzia.[146] Farouk and Mohammad Reza had planned to divorce their wives on the same day to distract the media from giving too much attention to either of their stories.[147] On 28 December 1948, Prime Minister Nokrashy Pasha was assassinated by a Brother disguised as a policeman.[144] In January 1949, Egypt signed an armistice with Israel with the only gain being the Gaza Strip.[145] In February 1949, the Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood, al-Banna, who called for Farouk's overthrow in response to the armistice with Israel, was shot by a Cairo policeman, and was taken to the hospital, where the police prevented him from receiving blood transfusions, causing his death later the same day.[144] Shortly afterwards, al-Hussenini left Egypt for Lebanon.[144]

In the meantime, Farouk spent his nights at the Auberge des Pyramides nightclub with Cohen or his latest mistress, the French singer Annie Berrier..[148] Karim Thabet of the "kitchen cabinet", a man whom the American ambassador Jefferson Caffery called a "jackal", convinced Farouk that the best way of renewing his popularity was to marry again, saying the Egyptian people loved royal weddings and to marry a commoner again would show his populist side.[149] Caffery reported that the king had listed his requirements for his new bride that she be of the grande bourgeoise class, be 16 years old, be an only child, and be of Egyptian descent only.[149] Thabet selected Narriman Sadek to be the new bride of the king, notwithstanding she was already engaged to Zaki Hachem, a PhD candidate in economics at Harvard who was working in New York as an United Nations economist.[150] After Farouk had made Sadek's father a bey, he broke off her engagement to Hackhem who complained to the American press that the king had stolen his fiancee and broken his heart.[151] After Farouk announced his engagement to Sadek, he sent her off to Rome to be taught how to be proper cultured lady to make her fit to be a queen. [152]

Farouk had always wanted to visit the United States, but his plans were derailed by his feud with his mother, which the American media closely followed.[153] During a vacation in the south of France, Queen Nazli had began a relationship with a man much younger than herself, the Egyptian diplomat Riyad Ghali, who was stationed at the Egyptian consulate in Marseilles.[132] As Ghali was young enough to be Queen Nazli's son and a Coptic Christian, Farouk considered the relationship to be scandalous and was even more enraged when Queen Nazli decided to disguise her relationship by passing off Ghali as the lover of Princess Fathia, leading to frequent photographs of Nazli, Ghali and Fathia together.[132] The frequent photographs of the three together led many to deduct about the ménage à trois Ghali was having with Queen Nazli and her daughter.[132] In April 1950, the trio had relocated to San Francisco, where Nazli announced that Ghali was converting to Islam and was engaged to Princess Fathia.[154] Farouk forbade the marriage; ordered his mother and sister back to Egypt; fired Ghali from the Foreign Ministry and stripped him of his Egyptian citizenship; and forbade the imam of Sacramento (the only imam in California in 1950) from conducting the marriage.[155] Despite Farouk's best efforts to stop the marriage, an imam from Pakistan came to conduct the marriage in San Francisco, which led Farouk to issue degrees stripping his mother and his sister of their royal titles and in addition confiscated all land that his mother owned in Egypt.[156] The now stateless Ghali applied to stay in the United States as a refugee before he, his bride and his mother-in-law went off together for a honeymoon in Hawaii, with American press more or less openly writing about the  ménage à trois by nothing the three were all staying in the same bedroom.[157] Farouk was so vilified by the American media for his efforts to stop Ghali from marrying Princess Fathia that he cancelled his plans to visit the United States.[157]

In 1950, in a volte-face that stunned observers of Egyptian politics, Thabet arranged an alliance between the king and Nahas Pasha.[158] Caffery reported to Washington:

"The proposal was that the King would receive Nahas in private audience prior to summoning a Wafd government and that if the King were not satisfied by his conversation with Nahas, Nahas gave his word or honor that he would retire from the leadership of the Wafd Party...The King agreed to this proposal and was completely captivated by Nahas, who tactfully started the interview by swearing that his one desire in life was to kiss the King's hand and to remain always worthy in His Majesty's opinion of being allowed to repeat the performance. At this point Nahas went on his knees before the King who according to Thabet was so charmed that he assisted him to his feet with the words, "Rise, Mr. Prime Minister"".[158]

Caffery reported in his cable to Washington that he was appalled that Nahas, whom Caffery called the most stupidest and corrupt politician in Egypt, was now prime minister.[159] Caffery stated that Nahas was unqualified to be prime minister because of his "completely total ignorance of the facts of life as they apply to the situation today", giving the example:

"Most observers are willing to concede that Nahas knows of the existence of Korea, but I have found no one who would be willing to seriously contend that he is aware of the fact that Korea borders on Red China. His ignorance is as colossal as it is appalling...At the time of my interview with Nahas he was totally unconscious of the subject which I was discussing. The only ray of light which penetrated was the fact that I wanted something from him. This prompted the street politician's response of "aidez-nous et nous vous aiderons".[159]

.Caffery called Nahas a venal "street politician" whose only platform was the "tried and true formula of 'Evacuation and Unity of the Nile Valley'" and stated the only positive aspect of him as prime minister was that "we can get anything which we want from him if we are willing to pay for it".[159]

Nahas as prime minister proved to be as corrupt and venal as he was during his previous times in office, going on a rampage of rapacious looting of the public coffers to enrich himself and his even more greedy wife.[160] The Korean War caused a shortfall in the American cotton production as young men were called up for national service, causing a cotton boom in Egypt.[160] As the international prices for cotton rose, Egyptian landlords forced their tenant farmers to grow more cotton at the expense of food, leading to major food shortages and inflation in Egypt.[160] In face of the corrupt Nahas government, the Egyptian people looked to their king for leadership who in the meantime had departed for France for two month long bachelor party.[160] Farouk's biographer, William Stadiem, wrote about how the king in 1950 "...went on the most excessively lavish, self-indulgent bachelor party in the annals of sybaritism.[161]

In 1950, Farouk's fortune was estimated to be about £50 millions pound sterling or about $140 million US, making him into one of the world's richest men, and a billionaire many times over in today's money.[161] Farouk's wealth and his lifestyle made the center of media attention all over the world.[161] In August 1950, Farouk visited France to stay at the casino at Deauville for his bachelor party, leaving Alexandria on his yacht Fakr el Bihar with an Egyptian destroyer as an escort and landed at Marseilles.[10] Farouk together his entourage consisting of his "kitchen cabinet", 30 Albanian bodyguards, assorted Egyptian secretaries and doctors, Sudanese food tasters and various other followers traveled across the French countryside in a column of 7 Cadillacs surrounded by motorcycle riding bodyguards and an airplane flying overhead with orders to land in case Farouk wanted to fly instead.[10] Upon the king arriving in Deauville, a media circus began as hundreds of journalists from Europe and North America descended on Deuville to report on Farouk's every doing as he stayed at the Hotel du Golf with his entourage occupying 25 rooms.[162] Journalists watched on as the corpulent king gorged himself on food, eating in one single meal dishes of sole à crème, côte de veau à la crème, framboises à la crème, and champignons à la crème, each dish tasted in advance by Farouk's Sudanese food tasters.[163] At his first night at the casino in Deuville, Farouk won 20 million francs (about $57, 000 U.S dollars) gambling at baccarat, and on his second night won 15 million francs.[162] As Farouk spent extravagant sums of money during his visit to Deuville, staying at the casino every night until 5 am, he earned himself a reputation for flamboyant high living that never went away.[164]

From Deauville, Farouk went to Biarritz, where he stayed at the Hotel du Palais and resumed his friendship with the Duke of Windsor as the former King Edward VIII was now known.[165] Farouk then crossed over to San Sebastian in Spain to attend a film festival with four "of his ladies of the moment" as the British ambassador to Spain called them.[165] Farouk's next stop was Cannes, where he engaged in a $80, 000 game of chemin de fer at the Palm Beach Casino with the Nawab of Palanpur, the Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli, the Hollywood mogul Jack Warner and the British industrialist Myers "Lucky Mickie" Hyman.[165] Hyman won the game and then promptly died of a heart-attack, leading to newspaper headlines such as "Lucky Mickie Beats Farouk-and Dies!"[165] Finally, Farouk ended his bachelor party in San Remo in Italy where he purchased a number of Roman antiques at an auction to add to his collection and afterwards arrived in Alexandria in October 1950.[165] Upon his return, Farouk received an an anonymous public letter from the "opposition" which warned "a revolt is near; that would not only destroy those who are unjust but would leave the country in a state of financial, moral and political bankruptcy".[166] The letter warned: 

"Circumstances have placed in the palace certain officials who do not deserve that honor. These ill-advise and mishandle matters. Some of them have even come under suspicion that they are implicated in the arms scandal effecting our valiant army. The belief prevails that justice will be incapable of touching these officials, just as the belief has prevailed...that Parliamentary government has become mere ink on paper. The world press describes us as a public that bears injustice slightly and says we do not know that we are being maltreated and driven like animals. God knows that our breasts are boiling with anger, and that only a little hope restrains us...The country remembers the happy days when Your Majesty was the honest good shepherd. All the hopes of the country were concentrated on Your Majesty. No occasion passed when the country did not demonstrate its loyalty and sincerity to Your Majesty".[167]

To distract the Egyptian people from anger at the vast expenses occurred by Farouk's two month long bachelor party, Farouk choose to go on the political offensive by demanding the British leave Egypt altogether.[167] Prime Minister Nahas announced on the opening of the Parliament on 6 November 1950 that the government's chief priority for this term would be seeking the removal of all British forces from Egypt and the end of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium of the Sudan, asserting the Sudan was rightfully part of Egypt.[167] To provide further distraction, on 11 February 1951, Farouk announced the date of his wedding to Narriman Sadek, whom he married in his usual lavish style on 6 May 1951.[168] However, whatever good will Farouk acquired by his wedding was lost by his three month long honeymoon in Europe, where both he and his new queen spent vast amounts of money while the king ate gargantuan amounts of food in the day during the holy month of Ramadan.[169] In Turin, Farouk purchased from Fiat a $2 million dollar US private train to ship back to Egypt complete with a TV, air-conditioning, 14 phones and alligator-trimmed furniture, which he took the press on during a trial run.[170] In Paris, Farouk told the Aga Khan that he was feeling depressed over his "unnatural" alliance with Nahas, saying he knew he was becoming unpopular and he would appoint a new prime minister when he returned.[171] However, Nahas struck first by unilaterally abrogating the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian treaty in October 1951, making himself the hero of the hour.[172]    

On 17 October 1951 the Egyptian government got Parliamentary approval to cancel the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. As a result, the British forces in the Suez Canal were considered occupation forces and King Farouk was declared "King of Egypt and Sudan". This title was not recognised by many countries, and Egypt entered diplomatic debates as well as internal political unrest.[citation needed]

Farouk is also reported as having said "The whole world is in revolt. Soon there will be only five Kings left – the King of England, the King of Spades, the King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds."[173]

Overthrow[edit]

King Farouk Seven-Piece Empire Bedroom Suite crafted by the Parisian ébéniste, Antoine Krieger

Farouk was widely condemned for his corrupt and ineffectual governance, the continued British occupation, and the Egyptian army's failure in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War to prevent the creation of the state of Israel. Public discontent against Farouk rose to new levels.[citation needed] Finally, on 23 July 1952, the Free Officers, led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, staged a military coup that launched the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. Farouk was forced to abdicate, and went into exile in Monaco and Italy, where he lived for the rest of his life.[citation needed] Immediately following his abdication, Farouk's baby son, Ahmed Fuad, was proclaimed King Fuad II, but for all intents and purposes Egypt was now governed by Naguib, Nasser and the Free Officers.[citation needed] On 18 June 1953, the revolutionary government formally abolished the monarchy, ending 150 years of the Muhammad Ali dynasty's rule, and Egypt was declared a republic.

The Egyptian government quickly moved to auction off the King's vast collection of trinkets and treasures,[174] including his seven-piece bedroom suite that was inspired by Napoleon and Josephine's suite at the Château de Malmaison.[175] Among the more famous of his possessions was one of the rare 1933 Double Eagle coins, though the coin disappeared before it could be returned to the United States. (It later reappeared in New York in 1996 and was eventually sold at auction for more than seven million dollars.)[176] Attracting much prurient interest both in Egypt and abroad was the revelation that Farouk owned one of the largest collections of pornography in the world as he possessed a vast collection numbering into the hundreds of thousands of pornographic photographs, postcards, calendars, playing cards, watches, glasses, cockscrews and so on.[177] Farouk's obsession with collecting also ranged into diamonds, dogs, stamps, rubies, Faberge eggs, ancient Tibetan coins, medieval suits of armor, aspirin bottles, razor blades, paper clips and geiger counters.[177] At the Koubbeh Palace, it was discovered that Farouk had collected 2, 000 silk shirts, 10, 000 silks ties, 50 diamond-studded golden walking sticks and one autographed portrait of Adolf Hitler.[177]

The 94-carat Star of the East diamond and another diamond bought from Harry Winston had not been paid for by the time of the King's overthrow in 1952; three years later an Egyptian government legal board entrusted with the disposal of the former royal assets, ruled in Winston's favour. Nevertheless, several years of litigation were needed before Winston was able to reclaim the Star of the East from a safe-deposit box in Switzerland.

Exile and death[edit]

Farouk I with his wife Narriman and their son Fuad II in exile in Capri, Italy (1953)

Farouk fled Egypt in great haste, and his abandoned possessions—including a huge collection of pornography—became objects of curiosity and ridicule.[178]

On his exile from Egypt, Farouk settled first in Monaco, and later in Rome. On 29 April 1958, the United Arab Republic, a federation of Egypt and Syria, issued rulings revoking his citizenship.[179] He was granted Monegasque citizenship in 1959 by his close friend Prince Rainier III.[180]

Farouk was thin early in his reign but later gained weight. He died in the Ile de France restaurant in Rome on 18 March 1965, collapsing at his dinner table after being poisoned by Ibrahim al Baghdady, sent by Gamal Abdel Nasser.[181] While some claim he was poisoned by Egyptian Intelligence,[182] no official autopsy was conducted on his body. His will stipulated that he be buried in the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo, but the request was denied by the Egyptian government under Gamal Abdel Nasser, and he was buried in Italy. The funeral service held in Rome was attended by his mother, Nazli Sabri.[183] King Faisal of Saudi Arabia stated he would be willing to have King Farouk buried in Saudi Arabia, upon which President Nasser said that the former monarch could be buried in Egypt, but not in Rifai' mosque. The body of King Farouk returned to Egypt on 31 March 1965 at night and was secretly buried in the Ibrahim Pasha Burial Site in Imam El Shafi' area.[184]

King Farouk I Tomb in Refaii mosque, Cairo, Egypt

During Anwar El-Sadat's presidency, the remains were moved to Al-Rifa'i Mosque.[citation needed]

Marriages and affairs[edit]

Farouk I with his wife Queen Farida and their first-born daughter Farial (c. 1939)

Farouk was married twice, with a claim of a third marriage. His first wife was Safinaz Zulficar (1921–1988), the daughter of Youssef Zulficar Pasha. Safinaz was renamed Farida upon her marriage. They were married in January 1938.[185] The marriage was under a large amount of stress due to Queen Farida's inability to produce a male heir, which Farouk found essential to maintain his throne. After producing three daughters, the couple divorced in 1948.

In 1950, Farouk was smitten by a commoner named Narriman Sadek (1933–2005) and after courting, the two married in 1951. Sadek was eighteen years old when she married the king and many believed the attraction was due to Farouk's belief that she would give him the male heir he desired. He got what he wanted when Sadek gave birth to the future King Fuad II in 16 January 1952. However, months after the prince's birth the king and his queen were expelled from Egypt, and divorced in 1954.

He also had many affairs, among them, in 1950, British writer Barbara Skelton. In 1955 his eye fell on the Boston socialite-become-singer Pat Rainey.[186] While in exile in Italy, Farouk met Irma Capece Minutolo, an opera singer, who became his companion. In 2005, she claimed that she married the former King in 1957.[187]

Children[edit]

Name Birth Death Spouse Children
Princess Farial 17 November 1938 29 November 2009 Jean-Pierre Perreten
Divorced 1967
Yasmine Perreten-Shaarawi (b. 1967)
Princess Fawzia 7 April 1940 27 January 2005
Princess Fadia 15 December 1943 28 December 2002 Pierre Alexievitch Orloff Michael-Shamel Orloff (b. 1966)
Alexander-Ali Orloff (b. 1969)
King Fuad II 16 January 1952 Dominique-France Loeb-Picard
Divorced 1996
Muhammad Ali, Prince of the Sa'id (b. 1979)
Princess Fawzia-Latifa (b. 1982)
Prince Fakhruddin (b. 1987)

Hobbies[edit]

Coin collection[edit]

King Farouk amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history which included an extremely rare American gold minted 1933 double eagle coin[188] and (non-concurrently), two 1913 Liberty Head nickels.[189]

Style[edit]

The ostentatious king's name is used to describe imitation Louis XV-style furniture known as "Louis-Farouk".[190] The imperial French style furniture became fashionable among Egypt's upper classes during Farouk's reign so Egyptian artisans began to mass-produce it. The style uses ornate carving, is heavily gilded, and is covered in elaborate cloth.[191] The style, or imitations thereof, remains widespread in Egypt.

Titles, styles and honours[edit]

Styles of
Farouk I of Egypt
Royal Monogram of King Farouk I of Egypt.svg
Reference styleHis Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty
Alternative styleSir

Titles[edit]

  • 11 February 1920 – 15 March 1922: His Sultanic Highness The Hereditary Prince of Egypt and Sudan
  • 15 March 1922 – 12 December 1933: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Egypt and Sudan
  • 12 December 1933 – 28 April 1936: His Royal Highness The Prince of the Sa'id
  • 28 April 1936 – 16 October 1951: His Majesty The King of Egypt, Sovereign of Nubia, Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur
  • 16 October 1951 – 26 July 1952: His Majesty The King of Egypt and the Sudan
  • 26 July 1952 – 18 March 1965: His Majesty King Farouk I of Egypt

Honours[edit]

National dynastic honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1952, Farouk's former mistress, Barbara Skelton, published a novel entitled A Young Girl's Touch about a proper and prim young Englishwomen named Melinda who has an affair with a grotesquely obese Middle Eastern despot named King Yoyo who enjoys spanking her.[202] Skelton later admittedA Young Girl's Touch was a roman à clef with Melinda being herself and King Yoyo was King Farouk.[110] Gore Vidal's 1953 pulp novel Thieves Fall Out is set against his overthrow. In 1954, the film Abdulla the Great was partially shot in Egypt in the Abdeen Palace and the Koubbeh Palace, and concerns the story of a fat and fabulously rich Middle Eastern king who lusts after an English model.[203] The film was released in 1955. The film's producer, Gregory Ratoff, stated during the filming: "If you ask me officially if it is about Farouk, I must tell you no! No!" before going on to say the film was about a "playboy monarch, a gambler, a money-crazed king with an enthusiasm for life and women...if the world see Farouk in the character of the star, then we can do nothing about it".[204]  

Agatha Christie's short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding involves the theft of a jewel from a fictional Eastern prince who is somewhat irresponsible and fond of a luxurious lifestyle. His name and origin are not given in the original story, but in the 1991 television adaptation in the series Agatha Christie's Poirot (where the story appears under its American title, The Theft of the Royal Ruby), the story is altered and the prince identified as Farouk (played by Tariq Alibai). This adaptation presents the British government as concerned to help Farouk recover the jewel to maintain his standing in his home country, eventually succeed his father Fuad I of Egypt to the throne, and curb the influence of the nationalist Wafd Party.

In 2007, the MBC aired an Egyptian television series titled Al Malik Farouk about the life of King Farouk and he was portrayed by Syrian actor Taym Hassan.[5][205]

Bestselling author Warren Adler's (The War of the Roses) historical thriller Mother Nile follows a fictionalised account of several characters devastated by life in Cairo, Egypt during King Farouk's reign.

A "Woman of Cairo", written by Noel Barber, offers an inside look of Farouk's palace intrigues and scandals.

"Who do you think you are, King Farouk?" was a common verbal admonishment used among parents in English speaking countries to their children during the mid 50's to late 60's. The putdown was often used when a request from a child was viewed as too expensive, unreasonable or outlandish.

Bruce Springsteen’s song “Aint’ Got You" from the 1987 album Tunnel of Love includes the line “I got more good luck honey than old King Farouk.”

Ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ashraf Pahlavi. Faces in a Mirror, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1980
  • McLeave, Hugh. The Last Pharaoh: Farouk of Egypt, New York: McCall Pub. Co., 1970, 1969 ISBN 0-8415-0020-7.
  • New King, Old Trouble Time Magazine, Monday, 11 May 1936.
  • Morsy, Laila "Farouk in British Policy" pages 193-211 from Middle Eastern Studies Volume 20, No. 4, October 1984.
  • Morewood, Steve. The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-40: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean (Routledge, 2008).
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher D. FDR and the End of Empire: The Origins of American Power in the Middle East. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
  • Sadat, Jehan. A Woman of Egypt, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987 ISBN 0-671-72996-9
  • Stadiem, William. Too Rich: The High Life and Tragic Death of King Farouk, New York: Carroll & Graf Pub, 1991 ISBN 0-88184-629-5
  • Thornhill, Michael T. "Informal Empire, Independent Egypt and the Accession of King Farouk." Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 38.2 (2010): 279-302.

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External links[edit]

Farouk of Egypt
Born: 11 February 1920 Died: 18 March 1965
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Fuad I
King of Egypt
Sovereign of Nubia, the Sudan, Kordofan and Darfur

1936–1951
Name of title changed by
Law 176 of 16 October 1951
New title
Name of title changed by
Law 176 of 16 October 1951
King of Egypt and the Sudan
1951–1952
Succeeded by
Fuad II
Egyptian royalty
Vacant
British Protectorate
Title last held by
Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim
Heir to the Throne
1920–1933
Succeeded by
Prince Muhammad Ali Tawfiq
New title Prince of the Sa'id
as heir apparent
1933–1936
Vacant
Title next held by
Ahmad Fuad, Prince of the Sa'id
later became King Fuad II