Farouk I of Egypt (Arabic: فاروق الأول Fārūq al-Awwal) (February 11, 1920 – March 18, 1965), was the tenth ruler from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and the penultimate King of Egypt and Sudan, succeeding his father, Fuad I, in 1936. His sister Fawzia was Queen of Iran for eight years. His full title was "His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan, and of Darfur." He was overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, and was forced to abdicate in favor of his infant son Ahmed Fuad, who succeeded him as King Fuad II. He died in exile in Italy.
The great-great-grandson of Muhammad Ali Pasha, Farouk was of Albanian descent. 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:
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 Fatherland!
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 would often travel to Europe for grand shopping sprees, earning the ire of many of his subjects.
During the hardships of World War II, criticism was leveled at Farouk for his lavish lifestyle. His decision to keep all the lights burning at his palace in Alexandria, during a time when the city was blacked-out because of German and Italian bombing, was deemed particularly offensive by some. Due 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, the royal Italian servants of Farouk 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". Farouk only declared war on the Axis Powers under heavy British pressure in 1945, long after the fighting in Egypt's Western Desert had ceased.
As he got older, the king began pilfering objects and artifacts while on state visits abroad, including a ceremonial sword from the Shah of Iran and a pocket watch from Winston Churchill. Common people were also often the victims of the kleptomaniacal monarch, and by mingling with commoners Farouk soon became a highly-skilled pickpocket. He got a nickname from his own citizens "The Thief of Cairo" to signify his well-known aptitude for thievery, as well as his lavish lifestyle and corrupt regime.
Widely condemned for his corrupt and ineffectual governance, the continued British occupation, and the Egyptian army's failure to prevent the loss of 78% of Palestine to the newly formed State of Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, public discontent against Farouk rose to new levels. Finally, on July 23, 1952, the Free Officers Movement under 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 Italy and Monaco where he lived 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 the Naguib, Nasser and Free Officers. On June 18, 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 revolutionary government quickly moved to auction off the king's vast collection of trinkets and treasures. 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.
The blue-eyed Farouk was thin early in his reign, but later gained enormous weight. His taste for fine cuisine made him dangerously obese, weighing nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) – an acquaintance described him as "a stomach with a head". He died in Rome, Italy on March 3, 1965. He collapsed and died at the dinner table following a characteristically heavy meal. While some say he was poisoned, tests later on revealed that he died from a heart attack. His will stated that his burial place be Egypt, in the Mosque of Al Rifai' in Cairo, but the request was denied by the newly formed Egyptian government and he was set to be buried in Italy. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia stated that they would be willing to bury King Farouk in Saudi Arabia, upon which the President Gamal Abdulnasser declared it was ok for the kings body to be buried in Egypt, but not in Mosque of Al Rifai' rather the Ibrahim Pasha Burial Site.
In addition to an affair with the British writer and siren Barbara Skelton, among numerous others, the king was married twice, with a claim of a third marriage (see below). His first wife was Safinaz Zulficar (1921–1988), a pasha's daughter who was renamed Farida upon her marriage; they married in 1938, divorced in 1948, and had three daughters.
Whilst in exile in Italy he met Irma Capece Minutolo, an opera singer, who became his companion. In 2005, she claimed that she had married the king in 1957.