King Farouk

This photographs shows the elegant young King inspecting a guard of honour in his capital.

Farouk's image remained bright until well into the Second World War, but all was not well. An emotionally deprived childhood, a chronic lack of education he was too ill-taught to enter Eton - the glandular problem which retarded his sexual development and blighted his marriage, all caused fatal flaws in his character. Soon, adversity was to worsen them. In 1942, to prevent suspected pro-Axis moves, the British offered him the choice of abdicating or installing a government of their choosing. Farouk installed a puppet government - and quickly deteriorated under the shock of such a grave political defeat. He grew fat, prematurely aged, and became prey to graft, gambling and women - especially women - for he wished to create a spurious reputation for , sexual athleticism. It was a disastrous combination of vices. "A man who can lose £50,000 in a night can lose anything," reflected one courtier, and so it proved. On July 26, 1952, Farouk was ousted in an army coup that was to bring Nasser to power. He died, 13 years of lonely exile later, largely unmourned

The Road to Suez | Egypt

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by Stephen Luscombe