Al Arabiya to examine King Farouk’s forgotten memoirs
Special series on the rise and fall of Egypt’s most scandalous monarch to start on Jan. 25
With Egypt in the spotlight on the third anniversary of Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow, Al Arabiya News is launching a special report on another of the country’s former strongmen – King Farouk.
The two men were ousted from power six decades apart, with Mubarak’s downfall documented in great detail online and via social media.
Yet King Farouk’s personal memoirs have seldom seen the light of day in the internet age.
Farouk’s long-mothballed memoirs have been obtained by Al Arabiya News, and the website is to launch an exclusive special report entitled King Farouk: The Forgotten Memoirs.
Farouk was overthrown in a 1952 coup carefully orchestrated by the revolutionary Free Officers, a group of military leaders who opposed to what they saw as a corrupt, extravagant and incompetent ruler.
When the army rebellion against the king began, the 32-year-old Farouk, who enjoyed neither the power of an absolute monarch or the security of a European-style ceremonial figurehead, found that nearly all his popular and diplomatic support had evaporated – leaving him with no choice other than to abdicate in favor of his six-month-old son, Ahmed Fuad (now known as Fuad II).
For over half a century, Farouk’s personal thoughts on his removal from power and his humiliating life in exile have been largely hidden from view, after his family name was discredited by the Free Officers regime and in Western newspapers.
The Al Arabiya News series will examine the mysterious circumstances of the former king’s overthrow, his family life – where scandal and court intrigues were never far away – his massive wealth and almost-mythical palaces, and his much-maligned legacy.
Farouk’s memoirs - written during his early exile in Europe - were published in the now-defunct British weekly Empire News in weekly installments from October 1952.
Intriguingly, Farouk, who was part of a liberal class of ruling elites, blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for his sudden overthrow, believing that the Free Officers were merely pawns in the Brotherhood’s game.
Farouk the ‘traumatist’
The memoirs were also published in Egyptian newspapers, along with commentary from a team of the country’s “top psychiatrists” who did “a very fair job” of analysing him through it. The doctors came to the conclusion that the former king was a “traumatist” – meaning he had suffered emotional shocks throughout his life.
But while the memoirs carried Farouk’s name, there is some doubt over whether the former king actually put pen to paper. Reviewing the ex-king’s recollections, one newspaper reported at the time that Farouk had hired a team of Fleet Street writers to tell his story.
Despite such questions, the memoirs still provide an illuminating view of Farouk’s life, said Paul Crompton, the Al Arabiya News journalist who produced the special series.
“King Farouk’s memoirs are refreshing because they give the reader the chance to read his rather tragic side of the story,” said Crompton, who interviewed several of the former king’s surviving relatives and numerous experts on the matter.
The first installment in the series will be published on Jan. 25.
To view the entire seven-part series, visit the King Farouk: The Forgotten Memoirs homepage.