Farida, the Queen of Egypt: A Memoir of Love and Governance

Farida, the Queen of Egypt: A Memoir of Love and Governance

by Morad Abou-Sabe & Farouk Hashem


Publisher AuthorHouse

Published in Romance/Historical, History/World, Romance

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Book Description


This Book is the authentic love story of Safinaz Zul-Faquar, who later took the royal name Queen Farida, and the young Prince of Egypt, Farouk. It is the first and only published book that the late queen narrated in her own words, as she described the joyful times she had as a young teen falling in love with this handsome young adolescent Prince, Farouk who was about to be crowned the King of Egypt.

Sample Chapter

How I Met the Queen

I did not know Farida, the former queen of Egypt, before 1976, except through her pictures in the newspapers and magazines. That year, I was working as a consular at the Egyptian Embassy in London. I was participating as the Egyptian representative in the preparation for a festival for the arts and civilization of the Islamic world with all of its regions. At that time, Queen Farida was living in Paris and had specifically come to London to attend the festival.

There, I was introduced to her for the first time and learned of her interest in Islamic art. After the festival was over, Queen Farida left London with a promise that we would stay in touch and continue our dialogue about art. Islamic art occupied a great deal of Queen Farida’s thoughts. It reflected her innermost beliefs. I kept my promise and made sure throughout my service in London to always be in touch with her. I also followed up on her intellectual and artistic activities in Paris and shared my own with her from London until I completed my services at the Embassy and returned to Egypt.

In 1986, ten years later, I saw Queen Farida again. My wife and I were attending a dinner party, and to our surprise, the queen was right there. There, we had the opportunity through our host and his family to have an elegant private evening at a gathering that was primarily a family dinner. That evening, the former queen was graceful without pretense. She was simple and fragile in her own way. The evening extended well after dinner to the wee hours of the morning until dawn. Her conversation was so enlightening that we did not feel the hours passing us by. After all, she was talking among friends. She told us about her life since she was a child and about her family. She told us how Safinaz (her birth name) met King Farouk. She told us about the engagement, the royal trip and the way her marriage was consummated. She talked about how she and Farouk differed and how their differences led to her decision after eleven years of marriage to end it all and ask for her divorce. She talked about the king’s sisters and the way she won their friendship, especially Princess Faiza, who had been living for years within the walls of the royal palace. She talked about Egyptian politics, the political parties of the time, and the decadent royal court that often controlled the reins of governance. She spoke about the many tragedies and events that she witnessed and lived through.

All that, Farida spelled out in great detail and from a very vivid memory. I still remember how, after she was finished with one story, she would go into a deep sigh and say “Oh God” as if she were awakening from a horrible dream or pushing away the ghost of an ugly past. I cannot forget how I felt that night, as it left me with a strong sense that the former queen had been through really hard and tragic times. As she recalled her memories, it was abundantly clear that her spirits were not well. Clearly, she had a heavy burden on her mind. With an initiative of my own, as we were leaving, I proposed to her that we do an exhibit for her artwork in Bahrain. Deep in my heart, I felt that would help lift her spirits, at least for a while. She agreed, but on the condition that it would not be overly burdensome to me. I assured her that it would not and I would get in touch with my friends, my collegemates from the ruling family in Bahrain. Ambassador Moustafa Kamal, the charge’ daffier of the Bahraini office in Cairo and who later became Bahrain’s ambassador to Egypt.

As disciplined and organized as Farida was, she invited me to her modest apartment in Maadi and requested I bring my secretary with me to prepare the exhibit portraits for shipping. She was keen to have the artwork get to Bahrain before we did. We spent the whole day with Farida as she prepared her art pieces. There were fifty large paintings and a comparable number of smaller ones. Farida planned to take the small paintings as accompanying baggage when she traveled to the exhibit. While we were preparing the exhibit shipment at her house, Queen Farida talked about her passion with nature and expressed her disappointment about how Egyptian cities had become transformed into a landscape of concrete, the green color had but disappeared, and the absence of open space had become a detriment to people’s health. She pointed out how she made nature the focal point of her paintings. She described how she oftentimes painted the Nile and the Egyptian villages with its farmers from her memory of them. These recollections came back with fondness and reminded her of the early days of her marriage. It was there that she spent those early days in Anshas, the same place where her kingdom eventually collapsed.

We went our separate ways after she prepared the traveling exhibit to meet again in the same week with my wife at her house for high tea. Queen Farida lived in a small studio apartment in a multistory building in Maadi. I hadn’t closely noticed the apartment in my first visit with my secretary, as I did during our tea invitation with my wife. Before we went for our visit, Queen Farida cautioned me on the phone that my wife and I should be careful with the building elevator. It might suddenly stop between floors for no apparent reason. The power might actually go off without warning. She expressed her displeasure with the landlord because he did not give these matters any importance despite its danger to the residents. Queen Farida gave us comfort in that we could always walk up the stairs because she lived on the third floor.

The apartment foyer led to the front entrance where we saw an Arabesque wooden divider. That section of the apartment was where the queen received her guests. The remaining section of the apartment contained a small dining table next to the library and some of the queen’s paintings. On another small table nearby, there was a picture of the queen with her daughters. And in the same frame, there was a picture of the queen with her husband, King Farouk. A small table lamp shined directly on the picture. In another corner of the table, there was a picture of her daughters—Princesses Ferial, Fawzyia, and Fadia—with their father, King Farouk.

The whole apartment reflected her delicate and beautiful touches throughout. It was, however, an image full of sorrow and sadness. The queen introduced us to her mother, ninety-year-old Zeinab Hanem. We shook hands with Zeinab Hanem as we came in the apartment. Queen Farida prepared the tea and some dessert for us by herself, and we sat down to talk.

She knew I had two daughters. However, commenting on the social behaviors of the society, she was sad as she commented, “Girls these days do not care about knowledge and learning. Girls are concentrating too much on their outward appearances, as if they were objects without substance. ”The queen was sorry that Egyptians did not appreciate their heritage and historical value. “While Egypt has the world’s largest museums within its borders, the new generations of Egyptians do not have a sense of belonging to their country. Creating that sense of belonging amongst the new generations starts when boys and girls begin to learn their Egyptian history, study its antiquities, and visit its museums. To develop that sense, we should start by making admission to these museums free of charge for all Egyptians.” The queen elaborated that many of the noble values we had, disappeared or were forgotten. She was concerned about how those who were considered the society elites were no longer the best of people in the society.

My wife and I left the former queen’s apartment, amazed at how the events from decades earlier had made Farida’s life so unhappy and sad. It was beyond our imagination that the beautiful person that we had just visited was the queen of Egypt during the days when Egypt was a country to contend with among the family of nations, toe-to-toe with England and France.

After our visit to Farida’s apartment, we became like family, and she accepted many of our invitations for dinner and tea parties at our house. She only requested that we do not invite too many guests. She also insisted to know who would be there when we invited her. After getting to know her for those twelve years, especially our close relationship over the last two, I had the feeling that Farida was not among those who could easily mingle with strangers. She was not comfortable getting too close to people she did not already know. She was clearly also careful with those whom she did not know firsthand.

Perhaps it was because she suffered a lot from people whom she trusted and turned out to be not up to her expectations. It may also be because her life was a continuous series of struggles, specifically with women and girls who were chasing her husband or those he chased. There was also the conniving of her mother-in-law, Queen Mother Nazly, and Princess Shwekar, among others.

Throughout Farida’s eleven-year reign as the queen and first lady of Egypt, she shared Egypt’s rule with King Farouk. Readers of this book will find how much she suffered, even as the queen of Egypt, during that period. She expressed that almost literally when she said, “I would have preferred to live a happy life in a small hut than live the life I had in this great royal prison. I witnessed firsthand how much Egypt had been through of world events, scandals, and intrigue.”


Excerpted from "Farida, the Queen of Egypt: A Memoir of Love and Governance" by Morad Abou-Sabe & Farouk Hashem. Copyright © 2014 by Morad Abou-Sabe & Farouk Hashem. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Morad Abou-Sabe & Farouk Hashem

Morad Abou-Sabe & Farouk Hashem

Farouk Hashem met Queen Farida in 1976 when he was a consul at the Egyptian Embassy in London. Mr. Hashem was working on the preparation for a festival for the Arts and Civilization of the Islamic World. Queen Elizabeth inougurated the festival and Mr. Hashem represented Egypt.

View full Profile of Morad Abou-Sabe & Farouk Hashem

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