Not too long after his wedding to Queen Farida in 1938, King Farouk moved from Qubbeh Palace to Abdeen Palace with his new bride. Abdeen was the official seat of government, so it was a significant gesture for the king to take residence there. Another queen moved with the king into Abdeen, his mother, Queen Nazli. The newly minted Queen Mother had moved a few times with her husband, the late King Fuad I.

Queen Nazli with then Crown Prince Farouk in the 1920s
Queen Nazli with then Crown Prince Farouk in the 1920s

At her son’s insistence, Nazli would pack her bags and move back into her suite. King Fuad had refurbished the suite in 1929, making it one of the most extravagant suites of the palace. Even more opulent than the Queen Consort’s suite which Queen Farida occupied at the time. Below, we look at some photos of the suite, which consisted of a bedroom, a salon, a dressing room, and a bathroom from Abdeen Palace: The Jewel of 19th Century Cairo.

Queen Nazli’s Secret Marriage to Ahmed Hassanein Pacha

The Queen would spend only a few years in Abdeen. Clashing with her son and his wife and on a quest for love, Nazli would move once again. Queen Nazli’s marriage to Ahmed Hassanein Pacha, long kept secret, is now a well-known fact. This secrecy was largely due to Farouk’s disapproval. The son was scandalized by the idea of his mother marrying anyone after his father, let alone his tutor and Chief of Diwan. Nazli was 41 when her 68-year-old husband died. She was expected to shrivel away in mourning for the rest of her years. The Queen Mother was also so much wealthier than Ahmed Hassanein. Not just because of the inheritance from her husband, King Fuad I, but also from her parents, who both came from generational wealth. In one of her pleas to Hassanein Pacha to ask for her son’s permission, the queen mother enthusiastically offered thousands of acres of land. Although Hassanein Pacha declined the offer, the proposal fuelled the king’s fury. When the queen was finally allowed to marry Ahmed Hassanein Pacha, it was agreed to keep the legal marriage a secret.

Queen Nazli moves from Abdeen to her father’s house

Staying in the official palaces would not have been appropriate as Hassanein Pacha was a palace official. So the Queen and her daughters moved to her late father’s house in Dokki. The queen had siblings, but it seems that she inherited this house all for herself. She lived there with Hassanein Pacha. In an interview, his daughter Miss Gaida recalled visiting him there on the weekend and being greeted by the Queen sometimes and her daughters, princesses Faiza and Faika, on other occasions.

Queen Nazli photographed with her daughter in Abdel Rehim Pacha Sabry Palace / Villa Nawal / Al Dokki Palace in 1942 on the occasion of her birthday. Caption reads "at Al Dokki Palace where her Majesty lives"
Queen Nazli photographed with her daughter in Dokki Palace in 1942 on the occasion of her birthday. Caption reads “at Al Dokki Palace where her Majesty lives”

Abdel Rehim Pacha Sabry Palace (Villa Nawal / Al Dokki Palace)

The house was often referred to as a palace in newspapers at the time, and it truly was. The house was built on over 7 acres, over a quarter of the size of Abdeen Palace, which was built on 24 acres. Nazli’s father,  Abdel Rehim Pacha Sabry, added to the land over time and sold one acre to the government to build new roads leading to new public buildings. The villa was a stone’s throw away from two King Fuad’s ever-lasting achievements; 1. the King Fuad I University, and 2. the Agricultural Museum. Overlooking several streets, one is called Abdel Rehim Sabry, and another is called Nawal Street, after Nazli’s sister, who passed away at the age of 6. The property was vast, including a unique park that made it private. The palace is now the Nasser Higher Military Academy.

Cherif Sabry Palace, the crowning jewel of Garden City

The Queen mourned and mourned when Hassanein Pacha died unexpectedly in a car accident in 1946. Her relationship with her and her health had both deteriorated deteriorated drastically. She had always had kidney problems, but it was never this bad. Doctors gave her only a few more months to live and told her to try treatment in Europe. As Queen Nazli prepared for her final departure from Egypt, she began liquidating her assets, selling many of her lands and properties. I’m not sure if she sold the Dokki Palace or still owned it in 1950 when King Farouk revoked her title. The Queen Mother may have sold some of her properties to her brother Cherif. This was shown in the Farouk series in 2007, but I don’t know the source of the information. I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else. It’s very plausible, especially regarding farmland, as there was a preference for keeping large pieces of agricultural land intact for more efficiency. Cherif, of course, lived in a fabulous palace in Garden City. Designed by Antonio Lasciac, the sprawling palace was the property of Zeinab Cherif, Cherif Sabry’s mother-in-law.

Cherif Sabry kept the palace after the revolution, and Princess Fawzia and Princess Faika were photographed at the palace at social events in the 1970s.

Cherif Sabry Palace demolished to make way for the Four Seasons Nile Plaza

Yet, as the late 1970s approached, this symbol of grandeur and the old world faced the unrelenting tide of change. In the late 1970s, the heirs of the Nile-side palace decided to partner with a developer to demolish it and build a hotel. After the demolishing of the palace, the project came to a halt. In 1999, the Four Seasons at Nile Plaza finally opened its doors. Despite being one of the best hotels in the country, it still does not compare to the original structure or the quiet nature of Garden City, which is now a thing of the past.

What happened to the royal family of Egypt after the 1952 coup?

When King Farouk Revoked the title of Queen from Nazli, the assets she had left in Egypt, millions of pounds at the time, were placed under conservatorship, naturally with him in control. Nazli was already living in the United States when King Farouk was deposed in 1952. She finally bought a house in Beverly Hills on Tower Road in 1955, where she lived with her daughter Fathia and son-in-law Riyad. Within two decades, Nazli would lose her house, jewellery, and daughter! Princess Fawzia took over as the conservator of Queen Nazli’s and Princess Fathia’s estates. At first, Fuad II was only a few months old and was made King. It was more or less business as usual for most of the royal family, but soon, things were about to change for the royal family. By the end of 1952, the Free Officers had introduced the first of a series of laws in the 50s and 60s dubbed the Land Reform Law that seized farmland from large landowners and distributed it in five-acre parcels to farmers. These laws permitted landowners to keep a maximum of 50 acres each. However, for the royal family, different rules were applied, and more laws were soon passed after the proclamation of the republic in 1953 that stripped the royal family of any land and nationalized their assets. For decades, different family members would try to challenge this decision but to no avail. Other properties were seized as well. Each Royal family member was allowed to keep one residence they owned. Many members of the royal family faced further challenges. For instance, Princess Faiza and Princess Faika were evicted from their government-rented houses. Many were persecuted and escaped, seeking refuge in Turkey, Europe and the US. All of the royal family’s jewellery and personal belongings were confiscated. Some of the jewellery can still be seen in The Royal Jewellery Museum, The Royal Carriage Museum and The Sharm ElSheikh Museum. At the time of Queen Nazli’s death in 1978, she was living in a two-bedroom rental apartment on Barry Avenue in West Los Angeles. Family friends, specifically members of the Persian royal family, had stepped in to help in the last few years. She was buried in the Culver City Cemetery. Of King Fuad and Queen Nazli’s five children together, only Princess Fawzia and Princess Faika would continue to live in Egypt. The rest of King Fuad’s family, scattered across the globe, would live out their days far from the land that once revered them, their stories almost forgotten.