When his officers had assembled behind him, I said ''Introduce me to your staff, General." I wanted to know their names. I knew that two of them belonged to families closely connected with the Muslim Brotherhood, and I wanted  to know about the others. One was from the Air Force, one from the Artillery, and the others were from different sections of the Army staff. None was above the rank of major. Only one of them was rude. And even he might have been merely ignorant. It was the Air Force officer, and he saluted me with his cane still in his right hand. I have seen Air Force officers perform this bit of untidiness, but I do not like it  I ordered him sharply to drop his cane to the deck, and he immediately did so.  I then shook hands with them all. 

The Captain of the Mahruwsah had or-tiers to sail out of sight of land and then report to me. He did so and I went to the chart-room.  "Set a course," I said, "for Naples:" It was to Naples that my exiled grandfather, the Khedive Isma`iyl, sailed in about 1876 in exile; and Italy gave him La Favorite Palace and a king's allowance. 

When King Victor Emmanuel was exiled from Italy in 1946 he went straight to Egypt and was given Antoniades house * (1) at Alexandria. Italy is today no longer a monarchy; but in sailing to Naples I was following the route of history, the beaten track of Egyptian and Italian kings It was not until the Mahruwsah was well out to sea that I discovered several dozen crates of wines, whiskies and champagnes on the deck.

I asked what they were for, and was told a very touching story. My father's old wine steward, Ahmad `Aliy, who is over 70 years old and is practically an heirloom, is in charge of our family wine-cave at Cairo. I suppose one does not need to explain to anybody but a dunderhead that a Royal Family may itself be completely teetotal, but must have wines, etc. for state banquets and receptions at which the royalty and diplomats of other nations are guests. The fact chat we Egyptians drink no alcohol for religious reasons does not entitle us to be rude to our guests. 

All photographs of us at table with foreign visitors show a cluster of wine glasses at each place where the foreigner sits, but always only a water-glass and fruit juice glass at our own places. I will deal more dully later with this question. But I must admit that I was surprised to find the deck piled with these crates. "It was old, `Aliy," I was told. "He emptied everything he could of crates of whisky and wines" from the Alexandria wine-cave and fetched them all on board. He said he would perish before he would lei those devils have the stuff!" These crates were the seed around which grew the legend of the many boxes of bullion that were carried on board the Mahruwsah and were later supposed to have been ordered off again. Some newspapers even put it that they were boxes of diamonds!  The fact was that nothing was ordered off the Mahruwsah. And when we reached Italy I sold the wines. For after all they were our property. We also discovered that there was no food on board, except bread, oil and cheese. It worked-out at one meal each per day given fine weather and no serious delays. When shall we have it?" I asked everyone, "for lunch or dinner?" The general vote was that we should have our fried bread and cheese for dinner, so that we could took forward to it all day! It was the children's idea. 

When I had signed my abdication papers, the revolutionaries offered me a choice. I could leave Egypt by sea or by air. I had no hesitation in choosing to go by sea: An airplane is too easy to shoot down or to explode in the sky and I felt sure that our departure alive from Egypt was not what the extremists among the revolutionaries had in mind. I knew they already be bitter reproaching Nagiyb for his weakness, and that it wound not be long before something more practical was attempted. Paris-Soir of August 3 reported from Cairo that "they, (the Neguibists) realized their mistake in a very short while (at letting the Royal Family depart alive):" 

That first night at sea, as the sky darkened, and I stood on the bridge of the Mahruwsah, I was strongly tempted to order a complete black-out of the ship.

Then I realized that I would only be deceiving myself and risking unnecessary alarm and distress to the children. A gunboat's radar apparatus could pick out the Mahruwsah at a few distance and our ship's lights could be seen.  If they were sending planes they should have come before dark. And an attack by planes; would, unless they were very lucky give us, time to tell the world by radio what was happening to us. They would prefer to use a torpedo if they used anything. And if they sent a torpedo-boat after us, we could  riot hide behind a black-out. Only God might help us. (2) 

I gave instructions that no tabor doors were to be fastened,  and Miss Tabourert, the children's governess, went in quietly while they slept and put a life-jacket ready by each pillow  without disturbing them. Then, in consultation with the ship's captain, Commander Hamdiy Bey, I took one further precaution. We drastically a. wed route. And afterwards I settled down to what I feared  would be ad uneasy night. Strangely, as often happens, I slept well. 

Yet before we had been at sea five hours, a speedy gunboat sneaked out from Alexandria harbor with instructions to torpedo the Mahruwsah and the revolutionaries were all prepared with a propaganda tale that  I had gone demented on board and had blown up the ship! Even in the moment of my assassination, it seemed that was still to be blamed.  Anybody who has wondered why we took so long in covering the short distance between Alexandria and Naples in a fast vessel like the Mahruwsah, now has his answer. We were not dawdling to hold orgies nor to seduce mermaids. We spent most of that first night sailing at full speed in the wrong direction. And whether we owed our survival, to this precaution, or as I have heard that a loyal member of the gunboat's crew  tampered with its radar mechanism, I do not for certain know. 

My navy has always been very loyal to me.  Before I left the palace (and presumably before more extremist counsel was taken concerning our disposal), General Nagiyb had sent for `Alluwbah Bey, chief of the Palace navy and ADCs and had instructed him that he was to go with me on the Mahruwsah, that he must ensure the ship turned back to Egypt immediately after my family and I had disembarked at the first port we touched upon, and that I was in no circumstances to be permitted to sell the ship 

That was reasonable, of course, for the Mahruwsah never has belonged to me. It was built in my grandfather's day and  belongs to the government. 

To make sure that `Alluwbah Bey, who was one of my most loyal men and is now in a concentration camp, did not disobey any part of these orders, he was also informed that until he  did return with the Mahruwsah, his wife and entire family  would be held as hostages. 

 "Not comfortably held, either;" he was curtly told. 

Every else of my personal staff who went with me on the Mahruwsah had to leave a beloved, helpless hostage until he returned, when the hostage would, be set free and he himself take her place. 

What would have happened to these hostages had the Mahruwsah been successfully torpedoed, I cannot imagine. But that was undoubtedly a later conceived plan, forced upon Nagiyb by the extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

The next day was Sunday. We had survived the night and said our prayers as usual and I stood refreshed upon the deck in the, clean morning. 

"A fine day, Mr. Horan," I said to the chief engineer, an Irishman. 

"Sure,- king's weather, sir - God bless it'' he replied fervently, arid the memory of that little phrase lingers with me. 

It was a still day and placid. There was no smell of cooking for we had nothing to cook. The sea sparkled and the sky, too, was blue. 

Italy gave us immediate welcome and shelter. They pro vided friendly kindness, and a day-and-night guard of Italian police officers was put at my disposal. And we 'might have begun to settle at once to the task of seeking a house near Rome where my family and myself could learn the job of living like ordinary people, except that 300 reporters from many arts of the world promptly besieged us. 

Naples Customs Office had given us an immediate clearance  certificate for all our luggage. The official certificate states: Three trunks, 63 smaller baggage. One of these pieces of  baggage was little Fuw'ad travel-cot. There were 26 members of our party, and our average possessions were just over two bags each, plus brief-cases and hasty paper parcels. 

Then the members of our party said their farewells to friends on board the Mahruwsah and with faces composed as best they could, climb down the gangway on the little ferry , with the cameras whirring in the brilliant, cloudless sunshine's, and all the reporters eagerly watching every movement.
 

(1) The Antoniades house is located near the Alexandria Zoo in the al-Nuzhah area. The House surrounding with beautiful gardens was once the property of Sir John Antoniades, a Greek, and was turned over to the Egyptian authorities in 1918. 

(2) For a balanced report on the same events, consult Muhammad Nagiyb's memoirs in: Egypt's Destiny,  which is carried by the Egyptian Chronicles.
 

(Story continues next month)


 

 

The Egyptian Chronicles is a co-op of Egyptian authors. 
Articles contained in these pages are the personal views, or work, of the authors, 
who bear the sole responsibility of the content of their work.

 

 TO MAIN PAGE


 

For any additional information, please contact
the Webmaster of the Egyptian Chronicles:

DESIGNED BY