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the last King of Egypt
Farouk Foud Ismai'l was born in Alexandria on February 11, 1920, the son of King Fuad and his second wife, Nasli Sabri. Educated by private tutors, he entered the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, England, in 1935. Farouk left England following the death of his father, on May 6, 1936, and was formally crowned King of Egypt in July of 1937.
Farouk was the first King to talk to the people directly; predecessors, including his father, had communicated with the populace through representatives. This openness, combined with his youth, initially made him popular with the people, but that popularity was short-lived.
Raised in privilege, the young king was more concerned with living as extravagant a lifestyle as possible than with affairs of state, and that extravagance quickly turned public opinion against him. Public support was further strained by Farouk's eccentric, often bizarre, behavior, including a penchant for stealing things and a habit of racing one of his cars through crowded city streets. In addition, the few attempts Farouk made at actually conducting government business all ended in failure.
Criticism over Farouk's lavish lifestyle increased during the early years of World War II, especially after he refused to put out the lights at his palace in Alexandria during a blackout. Following a ministerial crisis in February 1942, the British government, through its ambassador in Egypt, Sir Miles Lampson, pressed Farouk to hand government authority over to a coalition government. Farouk capitulated, but only because British troops and tanks had surrounded his palace in Cairo.
Already widely condemned for his corrupt and inefficient government, Farouk's popularity continued to decline after the war ended, especially after the Egyptian Army failed to prevent the loss of 78% of Palestine to the newly-formed State of Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. On July 23, 1952, Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a military coup that forced Farouk to abdicate and go into exile.
His Life in Exile
Upon his exile from Egypt, Farouk settled first in Monaco, and later in Rome. Although he had been forced to flee without most of his prized possessions, he did manage to smuggle enough gold out of Egypt to allow him to continue his extravagant lifestyle. He died in Rome on March 18, 1965.
His Marriages and Affairs
On January 12, 1938, Farouk married Safinaz Zulficar, the daughter of a lady-in-waiting of his mother. Three daughters were born to the union -- Ferial (in 1938), Fawzia (1940-2005) and Fadia (1943-2002). The marriage ended in divorce in 1948.
On May 6, 1951, Farouk married commoner Nariman Sadeq, who bore him a son, Ahmad Fouad, on January 16, 1952. Nariman accompanied her husband into exile, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1954.
Farouk was known to have had numerous affairs, with the most notable being with British writer Barbara Skelton and Italian opera singer Irma Capece Minutolo.
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This page was last updated on May 30, 2017.