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Farouk I of Egypt

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Farouk I of Egypt

Farouk I
فاروق الأول
King of Egypt and the Sudan
formerly King of Egypt, Sovereign of Nubia, Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur
Reign 28 April 1936 – 26 July 1952 (16 years, 89 days on throne)
Coronation 29 July 1937 (aged 17)[2]
Predecessor Fuad I
Successor Fuad II
Prime Ministers
Spouse Farida (née Safinaz Zulficar)(m. 1938; div. 1948)
Narriman Sadek
(m. 1951; div. 1954)
Princess Ferial
Princess Fawzia
Princess Fadia
Prince Ahmed Fuad
Full name
Farouk bin Ahmed Fuad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin Muhammad Ali bin Ibrahim Agha
Father Fuad I
Mother Nazli Sabri
Born (1920-02-11)11 February 1920
Alexandria, Egypt
Died 18 March 1965(1965-03-18) (aged 45)
Rome, Italy
Burial Al-Rifa'i Mosque, Cairo, Egypt
Religion Islam

Farouk I of Egypt (Arabic: فاروق الأول Fārūq al-Awwal) (11 February 1920 – 18 March 1965), was the tenth ruler from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and the penultimate King of Egypt and the Sudan, succeeding his father, Fuad I of Egypt, in 1936.

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

His sister Princess Fawzia Fuad was the first wife and Queen Consort of the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Early life and education

The great-great-grandson of Muḥammad Alī, Farouk was born in Alexandria on 11 February 1920.[3][4] He was of Albanian, native Egyptian, French and Turkish descent through his mother Queen Nazli Sabri.[5][6] Before his father's death, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, England.


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:

Farouk was enamoured 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.[7] 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.[8]

In 1951, he bought the pear-shaped 94-carat Star of the East Diamond and a fancy-coloured oval-cut diamond from jeweler Harry Winston. By the time of the King's overthrow in 1952, Winston had still not received payment for the two gems; but, three years later, an Egyptian government legal board entrusted with the disposal of the former royal assets, ruled in his favour. Nevertheless, several years of litigation were needed before he was able to reclaim the Star of the East from a safe-deposit box in Switzerland.

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."[9]

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 quarreled frequently, despite their loyalty in principle to his throne.

During the hardships of 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, during a time when the city was blacked out because of German and Italian bombing, was deemed particularly offensive by Egyptian people. 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, the royal Italian servants of Farouk 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.[10] 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.

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. On the night of 4 February 1942, British troops and tanks surrounded Abdeen Palace in Cairo and Lampson presented Farouk an ultimatum. Farouk capitulated, and Nahhas formed a government shortly thereafter. However, the humiliation meted out to Farouk, and the actions of the Wafd in cooperating with the British and taking power, lost support for both the British and the Wafd among both civilians and, more importantly, the Egyptian military.

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."[11]


Farouk was widely condemned for his corrupt and ineffectual governance, the continued British occupation, and the Egyptian army's failure during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Public discontent against Farouk rose to new levels. In the American Central Intelligence Agency, the project to overthrow King Farouk, known internally known as "Project FF [Fat Fucker]",[12] was initiated by CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. and CIA Station Chief in Cairo Miles Copeland, Jr. who in his book the Game of Nations boasted that he later had an office next to Gamal Abdel Nasser in the Presidential Palace in Cairo. [13] The CIA was disappointed in King Farouk for not improving the functionality and usefulness of his government[14] and had actively supported the toppling of King Farouk by the Free Officers Movement.[15] 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. 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. 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.[16] 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.)[17]

Exile and death

Farouk fled Egypt in great haste, and his abandoned possessions—including a huge collection of pornography—became objects of curiosity and ridicule.[18]

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.[19] He was granted Monegasque citizenship in 1959 by his close friend Prince Rainier III.[20]

Farouk was thin early in his reign but later gained weight. Weighing nearly 300 pounds (136 kg)—an acquaintance described him as "a stomach with a head". He died in the Ile de France restaurant in Rome on 18 March 1965. He collapsed and died at his dinner table following a characteristically heavy meal.[21] While some claim he was poisoned by Egyptian Intelligence,[22] no official autopsy was conducted on his body. His will stated that his burial place should be 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.[23] King Faisal of Saudi Arabia stated he would be willing to have King Farouk buried in Saudi Arabia, upon which President Nasser agreed for the former monarch to be buried in Egypt, not in the Mosque of Al Rifai' but in the Ibrahim Pasha Burial Site.

Marriages and affairs

In addition to an affair with the British writer Barbara Skelton, among numerous others, 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,[24] and divorced in 1948, producing three daughters.

Farouk's second wife was a commoner, Narriman Sadek (1934–2005). They were married in 1951, and divorced in 1954, having only one child, the future King Fuad II.

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.[25]


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 Farouk 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. 1972)
Princess Fawzia-Latifa (b. 1982)
Prince Fakhruddin (b. 1987)

Titles and Style

Styles of
Farouk I of Egypt
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir


  • 11 February 1920 - 12 April 1922: His Royal Highness Prince Farouk of Egypt
  • 12 April 1922 - 12 December 1933: His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Egypt
  • 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 the King Farouk of Egypt


The ostentatious king's name is used to describe imitation Louis XV-style furniture known as "Louis-Farouk". 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.[26] The style, or imitations thereof, remains widespread in Egypt.

Coin collection

King Farouk amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history which included an extremely rare American Gold Minted 1933 Double Eagle coin[27] and (non concurrently) two 1913 Liberty Head nickels.[28]

In popular culture

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.[3][29]


See also

Further reading

  • 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, May 11, 1936.
  • 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



External links

Farouk of Egypt
Muhammad Ali Dynasty
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

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
Succeeded by
Fuad II
Egyptian royalty
British Protectorate
Title last held by
Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim
Heir to the Throne
as heir apparent
Succeeded by
Prince Muhammad Ali Tawfiq
New title Prince of the Sa'id
Title next held by
Ahmad Fuad, Prince of the Sa'id
later became King Fuad II
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