The Kleptomaniac King: Farouk I of Egypt - History Key

The Kleptomaniac King: Farouk I of Egypt

We’ve heard all kind of stories related to royalties, starting from unnecessary cruelties and reaching up to chronic masturbation problems. This time History Key will unlock a new profile, one related to another unusual king.

A Teenage King

King Farouk (1920 – 1965) was the tenth ruler of Egypt coming from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and the penultimate King of Egypt and the Sudan, after succeeding his father, King Fuad I, in 1936. Even if born as His Sultanic Highness Prince Farouk bin Fuad, his full title was  “His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God King of Egypt and the Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan and of Darfur” and his bloodline was of 10/16 Circassian, 3/16 Turkish, 2/16 French and 1/16 Albanian.

Farouk I of Egypt
Farouk I of Egypt © Image Source: pinterest.com

King Farouk was schooled at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, England. This type of education would have had to prepare him for the throne, but a different reality waited for him. At the age of 16, Farouk was crowned, becoming King Farouk I, and also the first sovereign of Egypt who had ever directly spoken to his people in such way.

This is Farouk’s public message:

“And if it is God’s will to lay on my shoulders at such an early age the responsibility of kingship, I on my part appreciate the duties that will be mine, and I am prepared for all sacrifices in the cause of my duty…. My noble people, I am proud of you and your loyalty and am confident in the future as I am in God. Let us work together. We shall succeed and be happy. Long live the Motherland!” (Quote from Wikipedia)

Since very young age, Farouk I was truly dedicated to a luxurious lifestyle, which became some sort of business card for him. Among many kinds of whims, King Farouk used to eat huge amounts of oysters (it is said that he ate 600 oysters a week), spend huge amounts of money during grand shopping sprees or collecting expensive cars.

He was the only one allowed to have a red car in Egypt: his personal vehicle was a red 1947 Bentley Mark IV. The rest of his entourage was using common military jeeps.

King Farouk I with one of his luxurious cars
King Farouk I with one of his luxurious cars © Image Source: english.alarabiya.net

The early years of his reign were the most popular for him. Farouk was celebrated and courted by many, but his main concern was related to a lush life, in which any of his desires were simply orders. In order to consolidate this portrait of Farouk, we must remember that in 1951 he bought the Star of the East Diamond, an incredible piece of jewelry suited for royalties.

Even if Farouk’s wealth was at the highest levels, the transaction for the Star of the East Diamond was in fact litigation.

“Harry Winston bought both diamonds and in 1951 he sold the Star of the East and a fancy colored oval cut diamond to King Farouk of Egypt. By the time of the King’s overthrow in 1952, Mr. 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 favor. 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.” (Quote from famousdiamonds.tripod.com)

The Star of the East Diamond
The Star of the East Diamond © Image Source: VogueParis.com

The Hitler Sympathizer?

Another crazy proof of arrogance came out when during WW2, Farouk decided not to put out the lights at his palace in Alexandria, even if the rest of the city was put at dark because of the German and Italian bombing campaigns. For this action, King Farouk has been harshly criticized by the Egyptian people.

On a political level, Farouk had some Axis sympathies. He even sent a note to Adolf Hitler, stating that an invasion would be more than welcome. Among many vices, Farouk was a gambler and a true party-animal. At some point, he reached 300 pounds of weight, capable of “drinking 30 bottles of soda a day and eat caviar straight from the can” as his sister stated.

King Farouk was clearly on a wrong route. After having nightmares including lions, Farouk decided to take a trip to the Cairo Zoo in order to shoot the lions while they were in their cages. Probably something perfectly normal for him, and the best solution in order to put an end to his nightmares.

Farouk I of Egypt
Farouk I of Egypt © Image Source: english.alarabiya.net

A Rich Thief

Maybe one of Farouk’s most bizarre actions was to steal a watch from Winston Churchill. He claimed that the watch was lying around, but in fact, it was lying in Churchill’s pocket. Eventually, many people from his entourage stated that Farouk was a complete kleptomaniac. In 1952, during the Egyptian Revolution, Farouk was forced to abdicate. He started his exile in Monaco, later on moving to Italy, where he lived until his death.

Farouk’s overthrow was the perfect opportunity to discover other aspects of his life. His abandoned possessions revealed many of Farouk’s preferences. Among his high-class goods, we remember his even-piece bedroom suite that was inspired by Napoleon and Josephine’s suite at the Château de Malmaison, or one rare 1933 Double Eagle coin, which was eventually sold at auction in 1996 for more than $7 million.

He died on 18 March 1965, collapsing while having a characteristically heavy meal in the Ile de France restaurant in Rome. Some suggested that he was poisoned by Egyptian intelligence, but no official autopsy was conducted. He is buried in the Al Raifa’i Mosque in Cairo.

King Farouk's tomb in El Cairo
King Farouk’s tomb in El Cairo © Image Source: wikipedia.org

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