Mohammad Tawfiq Nasim Pasha resigned his Cabinet for the purpose of forming a non-party Cabinet led by a neutral Prime-Minister who would be acceptable to all Political Parties whose support would be sorely needed in the planned negotiations with Great Britain.  It took over a week of talks and negotiations between the ailing King Fouad and all the Parties' Leaders, particularly the Wafd Party and its Leader Mustafa Al-Nahhas Pasha before deciding to choose a Prime-Minister agreeable to all; it was very important to get the Wafd aboard because of its genuine popularity and because it was the only Party that could lead the majority of Egyptians into accepting the outcome of a possible new treaty with England. The only personality accepted to all was Aly Maher Pasha, the then Chief Of The Royal Cabinet (Chef Du Cabinet Royal).
 
 

International Law Expert, Cabinet Minister and four times Premier.  Aly was born to a landowning family famous for its opposition to the British.  His father was Mohammad Maher and his uncle was Abdel-Rahman Fahmi.  Born in Cairo, on November 29, 1882, he attended the Khedivial Secondary School and graduated from the Khedivial Law School in 1905.  He worked for a time in the "NIYABA" in Cairo.  Although he joined the Wafd Party in 1919, he drifted to the Court Party surrounding Sultan (then King Fouad), whose power he helped to strengthen.  Ali Maher became dean of the Law School in 1923, chaired the assembly that drafted the 1923 Constitution and was elected to the Parliament in 1924, resigning his academic position.  When the Wafd Party was out of power, he held many Cabinet Portfolios, including education (1925 - 1926), Finance (1928 - 1929) and Justice (1930 - 1932)

His major concern as Education Minister was to expand the number and improve the organization of the elementary schools, so as to implement the Constitutional provision for free compulsory education. 

He served as Prime-Minister in early 1936 while Egypt was resuming Parliamentary Government and, as Chef Du Cabinet Royal for both King Fouad (in 1935) and his son King Farouq (1936 - 1937), fighting against the wafdists in Parliament.  He formed a Royalist Government in August 1939, serving as both Foreign and Interior Minister.  Also he acquiesced in the expulsion of Austrian and German nationals from Egypt and the increase of the British garrison after the outbreak of World War Two, he became increasingly anti-British once Italy entered the War and an Axis victory seemed likely. 

When he named Nationalists to Cabinet positions, the British suspected him of secret contacts with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.  Threatened with deposition by Britain Ambassador, Sir Miles Lampson, King Farouq called for Aly Pasha's resignation in favor of Hasan Sabri Pasha in June 1940.  In opposition Aly Pasha became the King's close confident and the British actually considered abducting him and smuggling him out of Egypt for the duration of the war.  When they suspected that the King was about to reappoint him to head a neutralist Ministry, amid large scale popular demonstrations in Cairo, they forced the King to appoint a Wafdist Cabinet, and Aly Pasha was kept under house arrest for the rest of the war.  In January 1952, after the Cairo Fire led to Nahhas' fall from power, he headed another Royalist Government. 

When the Free Officers ousted King Farouq in July of that year they asked Aly Pasha (or he persuaded them to form) a civilian Government, but he soon resigned because he opposed their land reform laws and other revolutionary ideas.  In January 1953, he was asked to chair a constitutional committee but the Free Officers did not seek its advice.  He proposed a summit meeting of political leaders in late March 1954, and then played no further role in Egyptian politics.  Aly Pasha died in Geneva on August 24, 1960.  His efforts to use the Palace, Al-Azhar, Young Egypt and the Army to weaken the Wafd popularity never won him the power he craved, but his efforts helped to undermine the 1923 Constitution as the basis for Egypt's Government!! (1)

It was understood from day one that the Aly Maher Pasha's (2) Cabinet was only a temporary one with only one important mission, that of negotiating a Treaty with Great Britain that would be acceptable to all the Egyptian Political Parties including the Wafd.  The newly formed Cabinet did that and many other important matters including the end of Egypt's conflicts with Saudi Arabia and the signing of a friendly treaty with that Country, a treaty that has been enduring until now. 

The Government had also to cope with the death of King Fouad and the smooth inauguration of KingFarouq's reign (3).  It also had to finalize a general parliamentary election and initiate the appointment of a Regency Council until the return of young King Farouq from England where he was studying at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, which were all done within ten days from the date of King Fouad's death!!

At its first meeting the Cabinet appointed the negotiating team with England under the leadership of Mustafa Al-Nahas Pasha with full power and "CARTE BLANCHE" to carry on the talks and to sign a Treaty with the occupying Power on behalf of the Egyptian Government and its People.  A budget of ten thousands Egyptian Pounds, to be deducted from the budget of the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, was allocated by the Cabinet to cover the expenses of the negotiating team.  On the other side of the coin, the British Government appointed its own negotiators, led by Sir Miles Lampson (the future Lord Killearn) the, then, British High Commissioner in Egypt.
 
 


The Antoniadis Palace in Alexandria

The negotiation started at the Za`farana Palace (4), on March 2nd, 1936, and it was resumed at the Antoniadis Palace, in Alexandria in the month of July of the same year. 


Initialling the Anglo-Egyptian treaty, Antoniadis Palace, Alex, 12 August, 1936 

The negotiations were crowned with success and a Treaty of Friendship and Alliance was signed in London, on August 26th, 1936, at the Locarno Salon at the British Foreign Office.  The Treaty limited to the minimum the right of Great Britain to interfere in Egypt's interior affairs.


 Egyptian and British neogotiators in the Locarno Salon at the British Foreign Office.

On March 11, the Cabinet agreed to hold the elections on May 2, for the House of Deputies and on May 16 for the Senate.

On April 28, 1936, and during a Cabinet meeting, news came from the Royal Palace announcing the death of King Fouad (5).  After a short suspension of the meeting, the Cabinet proceeded by writing an official declaration of the King's death, in two copies, one to be kept in the Royal Cabinet and one to stay in the Prime-Ministers Office.  The meeting lasted for well after midnight to prepare an address to the People and to proclaim Crown Prince Farouq as King

The Cabinet also decreed to hasten the date of the elections and to call for the inauguration of the new Parliament on May 8, 1936.  Needless to say that the elections resulted with a huge Wafdist majority of 166 seats with 66 seats won by all the other Parties combined!!  As for the Senate, the Wafd won 62 seats against 15 seats for all the other Parties!!


King Farouq I, new King of Egypt arrives in Cairo.  Young King sitting in back of open
topped car next to Prime minister Aly Maher.


King Farouq I arrives at Bab al-Hadid, the main Cairo railway station 


King farouq I salutes an armed guard in his honor.

Before ending this episode, it is important to mention the other achievements of the Aly Maher Pasha's short lived Cabinet:  it facilitated the creation of new publications, either newspapers or magazines and encouraged the formation of a Journalists Association which was to become the Journalists Syndicate.   It reorganized the appointments of Foreigners to civilian and military positions and strictly confined it to those positions which needed special skills not yet available in Egypt.  It decreed that personal status litigations, that were settled by Churches and Rabbinical Courts should be transferred to Egyptian Courts, thus subjecting all Egyptians to one set of laws; as a result specialized Personal Status Courts were created.

As mentioned above, the Aly Maher Cabinet was formed to achieve certain objectives which were to conclude a Treaty Of Friendship and Alliance with Great Britain and to organize elections for a new Parliament in its Upper and Lower Chambers; having successfully achieved that and much more, the Cabinet presented its resignation to the Council Of Regency on May 9, 1936.


crowds of men running past car cheering. King Farouq


Egyptian crowds cheering their new King. 


King Farouq in the Royal coach car saluting the crowds 








(To be continued)

Kamal Karim Katba


Young king Farouq I sitting besides Sir Miles Lampson (future Lord Killearn) the  British High Commissioner in Egypt.

 

 


(1)

 
 

Arthur Goldschmidt Jr., is Professor Emeritus of Middle East History at Pennsylvania State University. He is (with Lawrence Davidson) the author of A Concise History of the Middle East, Eighth Edition, and is the author as well of Modern Egypt: Foundation of a Nation-State, Second Edition. He is the recipient of the Amoco Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the 2000 Middle East Studies Association Mentoring Award. Goldschmidt has been known during his years at Penn State for having created a series of courses that stimulated undergraduate interest in Middle Eastern history and culture. Educated at Colby College and Harvard University, Goldschmidt has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright Faculty Research fund, among others. He is author of numerous books and many articles and essays on Middle Eastern history. He was an elected faculty senator, chaired its committee on student affairs and served as secretary. He chaired the Middle East Studies committee for 25 years. He also was instrumental in helping to devise courses in non-western history and in developing the successor to those courses for the general education curriculum.

In addition, he is one of the most respected authorities on Egypt's Modern history. Prof. Goldschmidt is a frequent contributor on the Internet, including the prestigious and oldest forum: Egypt Net.


 

 
For meaningful and serious discussions about the History of Modern Egypt,  join Egypt Net group (The oldest  continuous Egyptian forum on the internet since 1985.) 

 


 


(2)

(3)



 

 

(4)

   The Za`faran Palace (Saffron Palace), which lies on the Za`faran Palace, maintains a rich history having witnessed several significant incidents that shaped modern Egypt. The palace hosted the signing of the Egyptian-British pact of 1936 and the first meeting of the Arab League. 

    The palace derives its name from the saffron plantations that surrounded it and was built during the reign of Khedive Ismail. It covers an area of 40 feddans and is surrounded by 100 feddans of gardens. 

    In the mid 19th century, the land upon which the palace now stands belonged to a rich man named Qostandi Kahin. His heirs went on to sell it off piecemeal, with Khedive Ismail purchasing the plot of land where he built his palace, dedicating it to one of his wives. The palace first occupied an area of one feddan, located in the centre of 40 feddans of gardens. 

    The palace, designed by the French educated Egyptian architect Moghri bey Saad, consists of three floors. The ground floor included a dinning room that seated 40 people, a large reception hall and two smaller ones. The first floor had eight bedrooms with a private Turkish bath- room tiled with fine marble for each, in addition to a reception hall. 

    Following the death of Khedive’s wife, her heirs sold the palace to the government in return for 1000 feddans of governmental land. 

    In 1908 the Ministry of Education was handed the palace as a premises for the Fuad I secondary school. 1n 1935, the school was moved to new custom-built premises at Abbassia. The palace was then occupied by the administration of the Egyptian University (now Cairo University) who assigned it to the Faculty of Arts, using the surrounding grounds for other university faculties. 

    When the Egyptian University moved to its new site in Giza, the foreign ministry bought the palace and turned it into a VIP guest house. According to the palace records, King Emmanuel of Italy was the first to stay at al- Za`faran. 

    In 1952 the palace was again converted into university premises but this time being assigned to Ain Shams University, which was then named Khedive Ibrahim University. The Faculty of law occupied the ground floor with the first and second floors being used as administrative offices. In time, modern buildings crept all around to house the rest of the university faculties. 

    Come the 1950s, the Za`faran Palace was registered as a historic building. This saw the students and public being removed from the premises and it being used solely for administrative purposes. Dr Abdul Halim Nureddin, the former secretary-general of the SCA, commented that the palace is not being properly utilized as an archaeological asset. He therefore suggests opening the palace at least once a week for students so that they can be better introduced to the history of the palace which in turn represents part of modern Egyptian history. 

 

 

(5)

Aly Maher discussed a great many subjects but the one of most interest was when he came to talk of the health of King Fuad. Begging me to treat the matter as of the greatest secrecy he said that he had received a visit at 10 p.m. last night from Dr. Grossi who was attending the King. Dr. Grossi had said that he must explain the situation to him as Prime Minister. 

King Fuad had for some time had an infection of his gums necessitating the removal of various teeth. This painful process had been going on for some weeks; unfortunately the King's heart would not stand the strain of an anaesthetic with the result that each extraction caused him intense pain and physical shock. Unfortunately the infection of the gums was not improving despite this extraction of teeth and the King was undoubtedly losing strength. So worried was Dr. Grossi about this that he had on his own telegraphed to another doctor [Frugoni] in Italy to come and assist. All this, said Aly Maher, was not known even to the people at the Palace, and in telling it to me he must once more ask that I would observe the greatest reticence and secrecy. 

The Prime Minister had asked Dr. Grossi whether there was any immediate danger; the doctor had replied that so far as he could foresee there was not but in a question of weakness of the heart no one could possibly foretell. I thanked Aly Maher for informing me. I did not want to jump ahead of events but such questions as the Regency would have to be considered not, I hastened to add, during the King's lifetime but if anything untoward should occur. Aly Maher indicated that he fully realised this and promised to keep me informed.
 


Monday, April 27th (Cairo)

At one o'clock came Aly Maher with a very bad bulletin of King Fuad's health. There seems no doubt that he is slowly sinking. I asked how long this was likely to last and Aly Maher said he thought about three days at the outside. Aly Maher told me that he had seen Nahhas and discussed the situation with him, making it clear that he thought the right thing to do was to leave the Regency question to be handled by the new Parliament. To this Nahas had agreed but had insisted that under the Constitution the present Government could not remain in office longer than ten days after the King's death. 

To this Aly Maher had objected that the new Parliament could not meet so quickly seeing that the Senatorial elections did not take place until the middle of May. To this Nahhas had replied that in that case the old Parliament of 1929 should be reconvoked. And when A.M. had pointed out the impracticability of this Nahhas had finally proposed that the new Chamber of Deputies should meet forthwith and that the 1930 Senate should be assembled so that there should be a Parliament of sorts to deal with the Regency question. 

Aly Maher had said that he would not object to this if it could be legally shown to be under the Constitution of 1923, a matter which he must submit to Bedawi. If it was legal, then he would act accordingly regardless of the minority parties; if it was not legal he would still be ready to adopt it if the leaders of all parties were ready to accept it; but if the minority parties would not accept it then he would not adopt it regardless of what Nahhas might say. I opined that this was all in order. My only doubt was whether he should not forthwith consult the members of the United Front. It was a fortunate coincidence that at this time such a body should exist containing as it did representatives of all political parties in Egypt. It seemed to me a heavensent dispensation of providence.

Aly Maher said that he would certainly consult the United Front the moment King Fuad died but to do so before that seemed to him impossible owing to the publicity which it would entail. I tried to shake him but he evidently did not wish to act as suggested so I thought it better to leave it alone save that I impressed upon him that he would do well at least to let Mohamed Mahmoud and Sidky know in advance that he would consult them when the moment came. Aly Maher told me that he had in fact already been in touch with Mohamed Mahmoud who was behaving himself pretty well - but he was significantly silent about Sidky. On the whole I thought it better not to press the matter further; but actually I think he is making a mistake in not consulting the United front ....

At 7 o'clock came Prince Mohamed Aly to stake out his claim to the Regency. He was as usual long-winded and boresome and was clearly angling for a promise that I would support his candidature. I was carefully non-committal, explaining to him that his suspicions of dirty work on the Tuesday, April 28th (Cairo)

10.15. Prime Minister's weekly visit. He told me he had been sent for early this morning to go and see King Fuad; that he had arrived at 8.30 at Koubbeh and had been immediately received. King Fuad was not in bed but lying on a "chaise longue". With his other people the King has recently been communicating in writing owing to his difficulty in speaking (his mouth is all to bits). But with Aly Maher he did not do this. The Prime Minister said that he had been able to hear what the King said though naturally H.M. spoke with considerable difficulty. The first point he had alluded to was the question of Prince Farouk; during the night, at the urgent insistence of the Queen, a telephone message had been sent to Hassanein that Farouk should return immediately. On hearing of this King Fuad told Aly Maher that the instructions should be countermanded and it was only when Aly Maher pressed the point that King Fuad whispered that. he would accept his advice and let the order stand. King Fuad had next asked to be shown some of the recent bulletins about his state of health; this had thrown Professor Frugoni into a pretty pother, but finally he had selected the least alarmist and shown it whereupon the King said that it was far too alarmist in tone. Next King Fuad has said that he was quite prepared to sign any Decrees, etc. that were ready and Aly Maher had said that some would be submitted to him during the course of the morning. 

The King had next spoken of a lunch party which was being organised for the Ministers on Monday next. This must on no account be postponed. Altogether Aly Maher was obviously amazed at the clearness of the King's mind and seemed to think that the general condition was v much more encouraging; unfortunately the "Employment of Foreigners" law had not been passed by the Council of Ministers and so had not been ready for signature by the King this morning - a thing which Aly Maher would much have preferred - so that he could not be charged later with having signed something that might be twisted into a favour to the British however wrongly; he therefore proposed to get the law adopted by the Council of Ministers this afternoon and have it signed by King Fuad tomorrow morning.

We had some general talk on developments to date and he told me that he had sent me Bedawi's note of the constitutional position saying that the compromise arranged with Nahhas - i.e. the immediate assembly of the Chamber of Deputies after the elections and calling back the Senate of 1930 in order that the question of the Regency might be dealt with by Parliament -was in order and as the result Aly Maher would follow that procedure. I told him I thought he was acting very wisely. 

The only doubt which still lingered in my mind was whether he would not do better to take the other leaders besides Nahhas into his confidence; I gathered that he would consider doing something of the kind. I told Aly Maher that naturally all sorts of suggestions of intrigue were afloat and all sorts of ulterior motives were being attributed to him; I had been at pains to dissipate these, explaining whenever the opportunity occurred that I was convinced that His Excellency was determined to act strictly constitution- ally. This I think pleased Aly Maher. 
 

12 noon. Keown-Boyd. Nothing special. I told him that at my talk with the Prime Minister this morning I had put in a word in connection with the proposed new arrangements (financial and otherwise) for the improvement of the conditions of service in the Police Force. Aly Maher had promised to send K.B. the text of the actual budget proposals before they were passed by the Cabinet; K.B. would thus be able to see that all was in order, and if it was not to point out the particular directions in which the proposals required amendment. I told this to K.B. who said that he was entirely satisfied ....

In the middle of lunch I was summoned out to see Smart on urgent business. A telephone message had just come through - at 1.30 - from Aly Maher to say that at 1.20 pm King Fuad had died. I thought it better to say nothing when I went back to join the party but passed the word to Jack not to dally unduly and as soon as we had gone back to the drawing room I explained what had happened and the party dispersed.

Hurriedly into a frock coat and at 3 p.m. down to Koubbeh where I was received by Zulficar Pasha, the Grand Chamberlain, to whom I conveyed suitable expressions of regret. Poor old Zulficar is completely broken up. As I said to him, all the world knew that he was one of the most loyal of old servants of the late King.

From Koubbeh I drove straight to the office of the Prime Minister. Here I found the place in a complete turmoil: all the Cabinet Ministers running about like scared chickens and evidently not knowing what to do. Aly Maher was still down at the Palace so for the first few minutes I sat and talked with all the members of the Cabinet to whom I made a formal little speech explaining the regret of the British Government and of myself at Egypt's loss. They all seemed considerably moved. Almost immediately I was joined by Aly Maher when the other Cabinet Ministers left so I sat and had a little talk with him on the same lines: he was genuinely attached to him. And so back to the Residency to send off various telegrams, etc.We were going to have had a dinner party tonight including Sidky Pasha, but naturally that has all had to be postponed .... Again no golf this afternoon owing to the double mourning - for King Fuad and our own Court Mourning which of course still goes on.

In the course of the evening I got an almost hysterical and panicky letter from Russell Pasha saying that he could not hold himself responsible for any troubles at King Fuad's funeral tomorrow and that he did not think it possible that the thing would go through smoothly - a typical and fatuous letter which he really had no business to send to me. However, such is Russell Pasha (hard-bitten Briton in charge of Cairo police). The man is a bundle of nerves and, as we all know, on top of that is a first-class advertiser. I suppose he wants to call attention to the outstanding merits of himself if so be there is any mix-up tomorrow?

Anyway, on top of this letter I received tonight 3 or 4 distinctly alarmist. Reports regarding the activities of the "Green-Shirts" (Young Egypt) so alarming in fact that I there and then sent for Smart to see Aly Maher and to warn him of the information which I had got; to say that it would be lamentable if on the occasion of the funeral tomorrow there was anything in the nature of a shemozzle and that it was really deplorable that political organisations with subversive tendencies such as "Young Egypt" should be even contemplating profiting by the present political uncertainty. Smart duly saw Aly Maher who protested that he knew nothing of any such machinations on the part of "Young Egypt" and there and then rang up Hassan Rifaat, the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior to ask if there were any reports in. Hassan Rifaat thereupon gave Aly Maher down the telephone the sense of the same reports which had moved me to send Smart down to see him. The trouble is that as regards "Young Egypt" & their leader (Ahmed Hussein),' Aly Maher, I very much fear, is not playing straight. I don't quite follow what his motive is, but I suppose he wants to have some element with him in case it should so develop that the students &c. come out again on the streets. Very mistaken I have certainly noticed that when I have ever had to allude to Ahmed Hussein (1), Aly Maher had always rather stood up for him; and in tonight's reports there is one saying that the Prime Minister had been trying to draw on the secret funds of the Ministry of the Interior to give them to Ahmed Hussein - an attempt which I gather from the same source has in fact failed.


A young revolutionary Gamal `Abd al-Nasser (x) as a  "Green-Shirt" member. 
(Young Egypt Archives) 

Anyway it is probably just as well that this representation should have been made to Aly Maher. Even if there was any truth in the idea of troubles tomorrow it is quite wholesome that he should know that we are on to any intrigues that he had afoot with "Young Egypt".

(1) Ahmad Husayn (1911-82). Founder and leader of the nationalist Young Egypt Society 1933 (reformed as a political party in 1936), which organised the para-military youth movement known as the Green Shirts. See J.PJankowski, Egypt's Young Rebels, Stanford 1975.
 


Thursday, April 30th (Cairo)


 


King Fuad's funeral. We all left the Residency at 9.30 and then to the side entrance at Abdin Palace. We were shown up through the hall into a room at the top of the stairs where the rest of the foreign diplomats were assembled. Immediately opposite to us in another room were the Princes of the Royal House.Down in the hall on either side were the delegation of British officers - Naval, Army and Air Force. After a few minutes interval we saw the coffin carried out and down the stairs by a large posse of Egyptian sailors. We fell into our places; Aly Maher & Prince Mohammed Aly, representing Farouk, immediately behind the coffin; then the Princes; the specially appointed envoys (including myself and various others); and then the rest of the diplomats. And so down the grand staircase and out through the hall where we saw the coffin being placed on the gun-carriage. 

At 10 sharp the procession started and encircled the big Palace courtyard. Over this had been erected an enormous marquee through the middle of which we emerged towards the main Palace gates. This was a most ingenuous device, for all the foreign bodies - ex-Ministers, public bodies, foreigners, etc. - were arranged in sections inside the big marquee and as the procession came through they fell in section by section into the procession behind. This device worked excessively well. And so we emerged into the main street and walked slowly for a couple of hours till we reached the Rifai Mosque, where the King was to be interred. The streets were absolutely packed and it was rather jarring to hear the crowds all shouting and even indulging in cat-calls. Sedki Pasha, the Turk, who was walking on my right, was much shocked by this saying it was entirely contrary to all traditional Moslem sentiment. Even in modern Turkey such a thing would never have happened. 

I must say it struck a very jarring note. This shouting went on during the whole time of the procession and reached its climax when we got down into the poorer quarters of Mohammed Aly Street. Here the number of women on all the balconies etc. was extraordinary and many of these worked themselves up into a sort of hysterical paroxysm (I thought entirely faked but the rest told me that that was not so and that when they begin to shriek and wail they get beside themselves. The din was appalling.) And so up the final slope leading to the Rifai Mosque. Just as we were getting to the top there was a perfectly disgusting incident. I heard a noise of struggling on my right with frenzied grunts and on looking round saw a wad of oxen and buffaloes in process of having their throats cut right on the edge of the street, the blood gushing out quite close `to us and the wretched animals struggling in their death agonies. Perfectly disgusting. It still gives me quite a turn when I think about it.

And we turned left to the door of the mosque where the coffin was removed from the gun carriage and borne inside the portals by the same sailors. The rest of us fell out and entered another large marquee erected facing the mosque door. Here we sat and drank glasses of deliciously cool water and some of us smoked a cigarette. Prince Mohammed Aly came over and sat with me and once more improved the shining hour by pressing his claims to the Regency. I was guarded but at the same time left him in no doubt that I thought his claims to the nomination were likely to be realised.

At a signal Prince Mohammed Aly and Aly Maher took leave of us and we all filed out back to our cars and so home. The long two hours march in heavy uniform had naturally been fatiguing but, all things considered, it might have been very much worse. The only damage so far as I personally was concerned was a slightly blistered foot; but how some of the poor old boys, such as Zulficar, stuck it out I really do not know. Actually he did only march about half the way and then was taken out by the police through the crowd and motored on to the mosque where he joined up with the rest of us.

The crowds on the streets today were most remarkable and there were far more signs of genuine grief than one would ever have anticipated. Paradoxically enough King Fuad had succeeded in staging something of a come-back these last few months: how far due to his own initiative, how far due to the skill of Aly Maher I am not sure: personally I think mainly the latter; for it was Aly Maher who forced the King to take the line he did over the United Front; and it was Aly Maher who forced the King to bury the hatchet as regards his personal animosities with individual political leaders; and finally it was Aly Maher who made the King publish a patriotic manifesto to his people a few months back. Anyway, to whomever the credit is due there is no doubt that King Fuad's loss is universally recognised by the Egyptian people as a very serious one. I share that view completely. 

I have always felt that, slippery customer though he was, he was an immense factor in the situation here and that we could always in the last resort get him to act in any particular line that we wished. He was in fact a sort of final screen behind us and Egyptian political parties. Now he has gone we find ourselves left face to face with the various warring elements and I am afraid, indeed I am sure, we are going to find our task a great deal more difficult; in short we may look forward to a particularly difficult and trying time henceforth - not made the easier either by having a young immature King on our hands. I frankly don't know quite how that problem is going to be handled. But sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof; and I don't doubt that if we plug consistently ahead things will clear as is their usual habit.

The new naval Commander-in Chief, Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, came up for the procession today, having stayed with us last night for the purpose. After lunch I sat in the garden with him the whole afternoon and we discussed every sort of question. He strikes me as a sound man though he certainly has not got the presence of his predecessor. But then no one has!

At 6.30 pm came Aly Maher, to discuss Regency and constitutional questions. He tells me that the party leaders are all meeting him on Sunday night and that their intention is to disregard the late King's nominees for the Regency and to elect men of their own choice. If therefore I wished to ensure that men acceptable to us were elected I had no time to lose, and he suggested that I should see the various party leaders and sound them. He also suggested that I should do well to communicate with the Queen and see what she felt. As regards the constitutional position, despite the fact that under the 1923 Constitution he felt that he and the present Government were legally entitled to carry on until the present elections and the election of the Senate had been duly carried out, he had come to the conclusion that what really mattered was to act on lines nationally acceptable. Accordingly he would be quite ready to depart from the strict legal forms so long-as he had it in writing from the heads of the political parties that they were fully in agreement. I told him that I thought that this was very wise.

After he had left I had over Kelly and Smart and said that I felt that the position was now so critical and the issues so important that I must waive any idea of non-intervention and that I ought to see Nahhas, Mohammed Mahmoud, and Sidky first thing tomorrow and have a frank talk to them about the Regency. It would be so prejudicial to harmonious relations with England that I must warn them to do nothing silly. They agreed and I sent off Smart to arrange times for the three leaders to call upon me tomorrow morning ....

 


 

© Kamal Katba 2010


 

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