Even though it was his second wedding, there was no way King Farouk was going small with the royal nuptials. His wedding to Queen Farida took place at Kubbeh Palace, the King’s more private residence. For his second bride, 17-year-old Narriman, the plan was to marry at Abdeen Palace, the official residence in the heart of Khedival Cairo.

King Farouk and Narriman’s meeting and courtship

Queen Narriman in her teenage years

The King had met Miss Narriman Sadek in 1949 at his jeweller Ahmed Naguib Bei’s shop on Abdel Khalek Tharwat Street (ironically, it was formerly known as Queen Farida Street”). The King was searching for a new wife after his divorce the previous year, and he was quite taken by Narriman’s delicate demeanour and excellent manners. Like Kate Middleton, Narriman had a picture of King Farouk from a magazine, so she fell head over heels for the king. He visited her at her family house in Heliopolis. Visit after visit, Narriman’s father, Hussein Sadek, was not keen on his daughter marrying the king, but Narriman was already in love. Rumours began to circulate about the king frequenting Narriman’s house. In an interview, the iconic Egyptian actor Ahmed Ramzy talked about how he and his friend used to go by Narriman’s house and honk loudly to disturb her and her royal guest. The king ordered the honk to be confiscated. Nothing was wrong with a groom visiting his fiancee, but the absence of an official announcement allowed people to think the worst.

During the first months of courtship in Egypt, Narriman’s father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. Narriman must have been devastated, but she was soon to embark on a big educational trip. The king sent Narriman to Europe, accompanied by her uncle. In Italy and Paris, under a pseudonym, she would learn queening skills such as managing large houses, etiquette and French. She would also visit the biggest hotels in Switzerland to learn how to run large households, like palaces. The press quickly caught on to Narriman, and the king’s European trip that year did not help quell the rumours. Narriman’s educational trip had to be cut short, but she was a fast learner and was ready for the job. Before returning to Egypt, Narriman had bought several dresses from Egyptian-Greek designer Jean Desses.

Royal engagement announced

In February 1951, the palace announced the engagement. There is no mention of the designer of the engagement dress. I suspect it could be Desses based on one of his designs from the same year. The wedding was set for May 6th. When it came to the wedding gown, King Farouk chose the designer himself. It was his friend, Germaine Lecomte.

Who was Germaine Lecomte?

Germaine Lecomte 1951

Germaine Lecomte adjusting a strap on a gown designed for Queen Narriman in 1951


Germaine Lecomte was a Parisian designer. She was born in 1889. In 1920, the year the King was born, she founded her eponymous fashion house. Germaine started with a small workshop and worked hard to become a celebrated designer for the elite and screenplays.

Germaine was roaming in high society. I found several articles mentioning both of them at the same events from as far back as 1947. I believe Germaine must have been acquainted with the king by 1950, as an article names her as one of 15 guests he had for dinner during his stay in Dives-sur-Mer at Guillaume Le Conquérant. Another clipping shows a gown named “Sphinx”, designed by Lecomte to be presented to King Farouk in Deauville.

The king was touring Europe on a bachelor trip. At the same time, Narriman was studying queening in Europe. However, it’s not known if they met during these months at all.

The Germaine Lecomte Sphinx dress, presented to King Farouk in 1950

The Germaine Lecomte Sphinx dress, presented to King Farouk in 1950

The design of Queen Narriman’s wedding dress

Germaine Lecomte designed quite a grand gown made of silk satin, consisting of a column dress with a long coat on top. The coat featured a long train, long sleeves and a Queen Anne neckline.


The skirt had four petticoats to give it its shape, with a belt that cinched the queen’s waist. The gown required 40 meters of silk satin and 20 meters for the train. The veil was made of Venetian lace.

Queen Narriman and King Farouk wedding

Queen Narriman wedding dress with King Farouk in their official wedding photo in the Throne Room of Abdine Palace

It was embellished with 20,000 rhinestones (even though some newspapers claimed they were diamonds) and weighed over 10 kilos. I love the way coat forms a lotus shape with the skirt underneath. It’s the quintessential 1950s decadent look.

Queen Narriman wedding

According to Queen Narriman’s memoirs, it could stand on the floor without a hanger because of all the embroidery. The memoirs also mention how difficult it was for the new queen to walk in this heavy dress and manage the train while keeping her head high.

Queen Narriman's wedding gown

Queen Narriman wearing her wedding gown in 1951

The dress took 4,000 hours to make and was estimated to cost 6,250,000 francs (around $7,000) at the time.

The embroidery details on Queen Narriman's wedding gown train

This wedding dress got a lot of publicity and was photographed on a model at Germaine’s atelier before the wedding. Germaine herself flew with the wedding gown and the other dresses Narriman had ordered.

 Queen Narriman’s wedding ceremony

As mentioned in my article about Queen Farida’s gown, in Royal Egypt, the bride does not attend the actual ceremony. Instead, her representatives (whom she chooses) and her bridegroom exchange an oral agreement and sign the papers. Some traditions don’t make sense, but this one does. A royal wedding ceremony was held in one of the palaces, the groom’s house. So the bride should only go there after she has been officially married to her husband. When the bride arrives, she is already queen, in her full glory and wearing the Order of Al Kamal. Queen Narriman’s wedding tiara and necklace are highly debated topics. I’m working on a post dedicated to the jewellery that will have brand-new old information. Sign up for the newsletter, and I’ll notify you once the post is out.

Princess Fawzia arrived to pick up (now) Queen Narriman from her parents’ villa in Heliopolis and accompanied her to Abdeen Palace, where the wedding receptions would take place. While in Europe, Queen Narriman was put on a diet. At the time of her wedding, she weighed around 52 kg, and her waist was 26 inches, one inch smaller than Jane Russell, reported one paper. Carrying almost 30% of her weight, she must have found walking in the wedding gown challenging. In the Queen’s memoirs, Princess Fawzia told the new queen to keep her head high and, most importantly, smile “because you truly are beautiful and look dazzling today.”

They were driven in a Rolls Royce from Heliopolis to Abdeen. The cars had to be driven extra slowly to allow the crowds to glimpse the new queen, and they ran late. That is why you see King Farouk standing impatiently in the video when the Queen arrives in the Haramlek. This was the queen’s first time in the palace. Nevine Abbas Halim, a royal with the title “Nabila,” said that when she met her at the wedding, Narriman seemed nervous and scared. But Narriman would grow into her role in her little time as queen.

Queen Narriman's wedding procession

Queen Narriman's wedding procession

King Farouk and Queen Narriman’s honeymoon

King Farouk and Queen Narriman on their honeymoon in Venice, Italy

King Farouk and Queen Narriman on their honeymoon in Venice, Italy. From Al-Musawar Magazine.

It took the royal couple about a month before they left for their honeymoon. On their honeymoon, the couple would visit Sicily, Capri, Venice, Lugano, and the Italian and French Riviera. They dined and danced, and the king gambled and bought his wife expensive gifts when he won. In Cannes, the couple stayed at the Carlton Hotel. The couple posed for a photograph with Princess Faiza and her husband, Ali Rauf.

King Farouk, Queen Narriman, Princess Faiza and Ali Rauf at The Carlton Hotel CannesThe Carlton Hotel Cannes

While at the Cartlon in August of 1951, The queen called upon Germaine Lecomte once more. Germaine flew from Paris to Nice accompanied by three sewists. The Queen ordered 25 new dresses at an estimated cost of $25,000 at the time. Among the pieces chosen were a beautiful green dress with a Queen Anne neckline and four pleated panels in the skirt. She wanted to take as many as possible home with her. And so, Germaine set up a workshop in Cannes. The honeymoon had to be cut short (after three months) as Queen Narriman discovered she was pregnant. Many of the pieces ordered from Lecomte had to be adapted to maternity wear.

A sketch of a green dress for Queen Narriman designed by Germaine Lecomte, 1951. Original illustrator signature visible. Coloured and configured by The Royal Couturier.

A sketch of a green dress for Queen Narriman designed by Germaine Lecomte, 1951. Original illustrator signature visible. Coloured and configured by The Royal Couturier.

A future king and an ending monarchy

While pregnant, Queen Narriman was probably not required to take on many duties. Giving birth to a male heir, after all, was her biggest duty. In January 1952, less than a year after her marriage, Queen Narriman gave birth to a son. The birth of Prince Fuad was a delight and relief for his parents, but sadly, the celebrations were marred by the Cairo Fire. In July, King Farouk was overthrown. He and his wife left for Italy, where they lived in exile. But the marriage wasn’t meant to last very long either. By the end of 1952, Narriman experienced some serious health issues that required her to seek treatment in Switzerland. In January 1953, Narriman left Farouk and returned with her mother to Egypt, where she filed for divorce and eventually got it in 1954.

King Farouk and Queen Narriman with Prince Fuad in an official photo

The royal romance may have ended bitterly, but it wasn’t the end of fashion for Narriman. She wore Carven and Dior at least until the 1970s, as evidenced by her granddaughter, Princess Fawzia Farouk. Unfortunately, it was not the end of drama in her life either. She would marry twice more, have one more child and struggle as the ex-queen under a system that was anti-everything-royal. More to come on that, but for now, let me just say that when Nevine Halim met Queen Narriman years and years after her divorce from the king, she was impressed by the former queen’s poise, manners and confidence and even wondered who taught her. This shows the growth of Narriman over the years.

Queen Narriman walking her dog in her family home in Heliopolis in 1965.

Queen Narriman walking her dog in her family home in Heliopolis in 1965.

What happened to Queen Narriman’s wedding dress

The dress was long thought to be lost. King Farouk and Queen Narriman left Egypt so in such haste that her clothes were still hanging in the closets of royal palaces like Abdeen and Qubbeh. The story goes that her mother requested the return of Narriman’s possessions to her. Abdel Nasser, who had already become president at the time, agreed. Government employees were not prepared for the size and weight of the gown. They had to arrange for a truck to take the gown to Narriman’s home. It wasn’t long before the new regime turned on Narriman. I assume that her possessions were re-confiscated or her second son, Mr Akram El Nakeeb, later donated the dress to the government. Either way, around 2010, the Royal Costumes Museum was announced. The museum was to contain clothes from Queen Narriman’s collection, including her wedding gown. King Fuad II saw the dress as conservationists worked on it during a visit to Abdeen Palace. The museum project seems to have since been scrapped. Two of Queen Narriman’s items are now displayed in the Textile Gallery at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. The wedding dress is not one of them. I hope it’ll be displayed one day.

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