Farouk I (1920-1965) was the tenth king of Egypt from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty. He received a British education from the Royal Military Academy of Woolwich, England, and returned to Egypt to become king in 1936, after the death of his father, King Fuad I. Farouk was only sixteen when he ascended to power.
As a new king, Farouk I attempted to institute some reforms in Egypt. Yet, he also inherited his father’s political rivalries—especially against the Wafd political party. As a result of the opposition, Farouk’s ideas on reform met resistance.
From an early age, Farouk was interested in collecting. He had vast land holdings, more than a hundred cars and immense collections of coins and jewels. In addition, King Farouk gathered one of the world’s largest collections of pornography. He also was reported to sometimes take things that did not belong to him—in King Farouk’s most legendary feats of theft, he allegedly stole a watch from Winston Churchill and made off with a ceremonial sword from the grave of a dead Iranian Shah. During his life, Farouk was also known for collecting women. He married at least two times, and had multiple affairs, the most notable of them being with Irene Guinle, Capece Minutolo and the British writer, Barbara Skelton.
Despite King Farouk’s celebrity style and playboy charm, the age in which he lived made it difficult for the king to remain popular, and his luxurious lifestyle was always a target for criticism. Unfortunately, the events of World War Two and the Arab-Israeli War (of 1948) further destabilized Egypt. In 1952, a military coup, carried out by the Free Officers and led by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, forced King Farouk I to abdicate. The throne passed to Farouk’s infant son, but Egypt was quickly declared a republic, eradicating the monarchy.
In the aftermath of the coup, King Farouk was forced into exile. The speedy exit caused the young king (only thirty six at the time) to leave behind many of his treasures. The fortunes he left in Egypt included much of the royal jewel and coin collections, as well as thousands of suits. In addition, thousands of pornographic neckties from his adult-themed collection were also reportedly left behind. He did, however, manage to keep much of his wealth—King Farouk skillfully smuggled bars of gold out of Egypt by packing them into shipping crates that were labeled as carrying alcoholic beverages.
During his exile, King Farouk continued his luxurious lifestyle. In 1965, the forty-five year old king died in Rome, after eating a rich feast while in the company of a twenty-two year old woman.
Written by C. Keith Hansley.