King Farouk was born His Sultanic Highness Prince Farouk bin Fuad at Abdeen Palace, Cairo, the eldest child of Sultan Fuad I of Egypt and Sudan (later King Fuad I), and his second wife, Nazli Sabri on 11 February 1920. King Farouk of Egypt was of 10/16 Circassian (bilineal), 3/16 Turkish (bilineal), 2/16 French (matrilineal) and 1/16 Albanian (patrilineal) descent.
In addition to his sisters, Fawzia, Faiza, Faika and Fathia, he had two half-siblings from his father's previous marriage to Princess Shwikar Khanum Effendi.
Before his father's death, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, England.
Upon his Coronation, the 16-year-old King Farouk made a public radio address to the nation, the first time a sovereign of Egypt had ever spoken directly to his people in such a way:
Farouk was enamored of the glamorous royal lifestyle. Although he already had thousands of acres of land, dozens of palaces and hundreds of cars, the youthful king often travelled to Europe for grand shopping sprees, earning the ire of many of his subjects. It is said that he ate 600 oysters a week. His personal vehicle was a red 1947 Bentley Mark VI, with coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi; he dictated that, other than the military jeeps which made up the rest of his entourage, no other cars were to be painted red. In 1951, he bought the pear-shaped 94-carat Star of the East Diamond and a fancy-coloured oval-cut diamond from jeweler Harry Winston.
He was most popular in his early years and the nobility largely celebrated him. For example, during the accession of the young King Farouk, "the Abaza family had solicited palace authorities to permit the royal train to stop briefly in their village so that the king could partake of refreshments offered in a large, magnificently ornamented tent the family had erected in the train station." The ironies of history also meant that the Abaza family's own Wagih Abaza was in the Free Officers movement that removed the King in 1952, later becoming governor of six governorates in post-Farouk Egypt.
Farouk's accession initially was encouraging for the populace and nobility, due to his youth and Egyptian roots through his mother Nazli Sabri. However, the situation was not the same with some Egyptian politicians and elected government officials, with whom Farouk quarreled frequently, despite their loyalty in principle to his throne. There was also the issue of the continuous British involvement in the Egyptian government, which Farouk struggled to resist.
During the hardships of the Second World War, criticism was leveled at Farouk for his lavish lifestyle. His decision not to put out the lights at his palace in Alexandria when the city was blacked out because of German and Italian bombing was deemed particularly offensive by the Egyptian people. This was a large contrast to the British royal family back in England who were well known to have an opposite reaction to the bombings near their home. Owing to the continuing British occupation of Egypt, many Egyptians, Farouk included, were positively disposed towards Germany and Italy, and despite the presence of British troops, Egypt remained officially neutral until the final year of the war. Consequently, Farouk's Italian servants were not interned, and there is an unconfirmed story that Farouk told British Ambassador Sir Miles Lampson (who had an Italian wife), "I'll get rid of my Italians when you get rid of yours". In addition, Farouk was known for harboring certain Axis sympathies and even sending a note to Adolf Hitler saying that an invasion would be welcome.
Following a ministerial crisis in February 1942, the British government, through its ambassador in Egypt, Sir Miles Lampson, pressed Farouk to have a Wafd or Wafd-coalition government replace Hussein Sirri Pasha's government. On the night of 4 February 1942, British troops and tanks surrounded Abdeen Palace in Cairo and Lampson presented Farouk with an ultimatum. Farouk capitulated, and Nahhas formed a government shortly thereafter. However, the humiliation meted out to Farouk, and the actions of the Wafd in cooperating with the British and taking power, lost support for both the British and the Wafd among both civilians and, more importantly, the military. With this, Farouk's popularity seemed to decrease significantly, especially with the rise of Arab nationalism. many of the people in the country view him a puppet to the powers of the West.
Farouk declared war on the Axis Powers only under heavy British pressure in 1945, long after the fighting in Egypt's Western Desert had ceased.
On 17 October 1951 the Egyptian government got Parliamentary approval to cancel the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. As a result, the British forces in the Suez Canal were considered occupation forces and king Farouk was declared "King of Egypt and Sudan". This title was not recognised by many countries, and Egypt entered diplomatic debates as well as internal political unrest.
Farouk is also reported as having said "The whole world is in revolt. Soon there will be only five Kings left — the King of England, the King of Spades, the King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds."
Farouk was widely condemned for his corrupt and ineffectual governance, the continued British occupation, and the Egyptian army's failure in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War to prevent the creation of the state of Israel. Public discontent against Farouk rose to new levels. Finally, on 23 July 1952, the Free Officers, led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, staged a military coup that launched the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. Farouk was forced to abdicate, and went into exile in Monaco and Italy, where he lived for the rest of his life. Immediately following his abdication, Farouk's baby son, Ahmed Fuad, was proclaimed King Fuad II, but for all intents and purposes Egypt was now governed by Naguib, Nasser and the Free Officers. On 18 June 1953, the revolutionary government formally abolished the monarchy, ending 150 years of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty's rule, and Egypt was declared a republic.
The Egyptian government quickly moved to auction off the King's vast collection of trinkets and treasures, including his seven-piece bedroom suite that was inspired by Napoleon and Josephine's suite at the Château de Malmaison. Among the more famous of his possessions was one of the rare 1933 double eagle coins, though the coin disappeared before it could be returned to the United States. (It later reappeared in New York in 1996 and was eventually sold at auction for more than seven million dollars.)
The 94-carat Star of the East diamond and another diamond bought from Harry Winston had not been paid for by the time of the King's overthrow in 1952; three years later an Egyptian government legal board entrusted with the disposal of the former royal assets, ruled in Winston's favor. Nevertheless, several years of litigation were needed before Winston was able to reclaim the Star of the East from a safe-deposit box in Switzerland.
Farouk fled Egypt in great haste, and his abandoned possessions—including a huge collection of pornography—became objects of curiosity and ridicule.
On his exile from Egypt, Farouk settled first in Monaco, and later in Rome, Italy. On 29 April 1958, the United Arab Republic, a federation of Egypt and Syria, issued rulings revoking his citizenship. He was granted Monegasque citizenship in 1959 by his close friend Prince Rainier III.
Farouk was thin early in his reign but later gained weight, reaching nearly 136 kg (300 pounds)—an acquaintance described him as "a stomach with a head". He died in the Ile de France restaurant in Rome on 18 March 1965, collapsing at his dinner table following a characteristically heavy meal. While some claim he was poisoned by Egyptian Intelligence, no official autopsy was conducted on his body. His will stipulated that he be buried in the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo, but the request was denied by the Egyptian government under Gamal Abdel Nasser, and he was buried in Italy. The funeral service held in Rome was attended by his mother, Nazli Sabri. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia stated he would be willing to have King Farouk buried in Saudi Arabia, upon which President Nasser said that the former monarch could be buried in Egypt, but not in Rifai' mosque. The body of King Farouk returned to Egypt on 31 March 1965 at night and was secretly buried in the Ibrahim Pasha Burial Site in Imam El Shafi' area.
During Anwar El-Sadat's presidency, the remains were moved to Al-Rifa'i Mosque.
Farouk was married twice, with a claim of a third marriage. His first wife was Safinaz Zulficar (1921–1988), the daughter of Youssef Zulficar Pasha. Safinaz was renamed Farida upon her marriage. They were married in January 1938. The marriage was under a large amount of stress due to Queen Farida's inability to produce a male heir, which Farouk found essential to maintain his throne. After producing three daughters, the couple divorced in 1948.
In 1950, Farouk was smitten by a commoner named Narriman Sadek (1933-2005) and after courting, the two married in 1951. Sadek was eighteen years old when she married the king and many believed the attraction was due to Farouk's belief that she would give him the male heir he desired. He got what he wanted when Sadek gave birth to the future King Fuad II in January 16, 1952. However, months after the prince's birth the king and his queen were expelled from Egypt, and divorced in 1954.
He also had many affairs, among them, in 1950, British writer Barbara Skelton. In 1955 his eye fell on the Boston socialite-become-singer Pat Rainey. While in exile in Italy, Farouk met Irma Capece Minutolo, an opera singer, who became his companion. In 2005, she claimed that she married the former King in 1957.
King Farouk amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history which included an extremely rare American Gold Minted 1933 double eagle coin and (non concurrently), two 1913 Liberty Head nickels.
The ostentatious king's name is used to describe imitation Louis XV-style furniture known as "Louis-Farouk". The imperial French style furniture became fashionable among Egypt's upper classes during Farouk's reign so Egyptian artisans began to mass-produce it. The style uses ornate carving, is heavily gilded, and is covered in elaborate cloth. The style, or imitations thereof, remains widespread in Egypt.11 February 1920 – 15 March 1922: His Sultanic Highness Prince Farouk of Egypt15 March 1922 – 12 December 1933: His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Egypt12 December 1933 – 28 April 1936: His Royal Highness The Prince of the Sa'id28 April 1936 – 16 October 1951: His Majesty the King of Egypt, Sovereign of Nubia, Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur16 October 1951 – 26 July 1952: His Majesty the King of Egypt and the Sudan26 July 1952 – 18 March 1965: His Majesty the King Farouk of Egypt House of Muhammad Ali: 3rd Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Royal Order of Muhammad Ali House of Muhammad Ali: 1st Former Sovereign and 1st Knight with Collar of the Royal Order of Fuad I House of Muhammad Ali: 3rd Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Ismail I House of Muhammad Ali: 3rd Former Sovereign of the Royal Order of the Virtues House of Muhammad Ali: 3rd Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Nile House of Muhammad Ali: 2nd Former Sovereign of the Royal Order of Agriculture House of Muhammad Ali: 2nd Former Sovereign of the Royal Order of Culture House of Muhammad Ali: 2nd Former Sovereign of the Royal Order of Industry and Commerce House of Muhammad Ali: 3rd Former Sovereign of the Royal Decoration of the Military Star Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Medal for Bravery Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Medal for Meritorious Acts Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Medal for Devotion of Duty Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Medal for Benevolence Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Medal of Casualty Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Palestine Medal House of Muhammad Ali: Former Sovereign of the Muhammad Ali Medal Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Prince Kamal el Dine Hussein Medal Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the King Farouk Inauguration Medal Kingdom of Egypt: Former Sovereign of the Royal Guard Commemorative Medal: Order of Fidelity of the Kingdom of Albania France: Grand Cross of the Order of the Legion of Honour Iran: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of Pahlavi Monaco: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles Spanish Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic Portugal: Grand-Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword Portugal: Grand-Cross of the Sash of the Two Orders
Gore Vidal's 1953 pulp novel Thieves Fall Out is set against his overthrow.
Agatha Christie's short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding involves the theft of a jewel from a fictional Eastern prince who is somewhat irresponsible and fond of a luxurious lifestyle. His name and origin are not given in the original story, but in the 1991 television adaptation in the series Agatha Christie's Poirot (where the story appears under its American title, The Theft of the Royal Ruby), the story is altered and the prince identified as Farouk (played by Tariq Alibai). This adaptation presents the British government as concerned to help Farouk recover the jewel in order to maintain his standing in his home country, eventually succeed his father Fuad I of Egypt to the throne, and curb the influence of the nationalist Wafd Party.
In 2007, the MBC aired an Egyptian television series titled Al Malik Farouk about the life of King Farouk and he was portrayed by Syrian actor Taym Hassan.
Bestselling author Warren Adler's (The War of the Roses) historical thriller Mother Nile follows a fictionalized account of several characters devastated by life in Cairo, Egypt during King Farouk's reign.
A "Woman of Cairo", written by Noel Barber, offers an inside look of Farouk's palace intrigues and scandals.