Fawzia Fuad of Egypt

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Fawzia Fuad
Princess Fawzia bint Fuad of Egypt.jpg
Queen consort of Iran
Tenure16 September 1941 – 17 November 1948
Born(1921-11-05)5 November 1921
Ras el-Tin Palace, Alexandria, Sultanate of Egypt
Died2 July 2013(2013-07-02) (aged 91)
Alexandria, Egypt
Burial3 July 2013
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
(m. 1939;div. 1948)

Ismail Chirine
(m. 1949;died 1994)
Issue Princess Shahnaz of Iran
Nadia Chirine
Hussein Chirine
Full name
English: Fawzia Fuad
Arabic: فوزية فؤاد
Persian: فوزيه فواد
House Muhammad Ali (by birth)
Pahlavi (by marriage)
Father Fuad I of Egypt
Mother Nazli Sabri
Religion Islam
Styles of
Princess Fawzia of Egypt and Iran
Coat of arms of Egypt (1922–1953).svg Imperial Coat of Arms of Iran.svg
Reference style Her Imperial & Royal Highness
Spoken styleYour Imperial & Royal Highness

Fawzia Fuad of Egypt (Arabic : الأميرة فوزية فؤاد; Persian : شاهدخت فوزیه فؤاد; 5 November 1921 – 2 July 2013), also known as Muluk Fawzia of Iran, was an Egyptian princess who became Queen of Iran as the first wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.


Princess Fawzia was the daughter of Fuad I, the seventh son of Ismail the Magnificent. She descended from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty. [1] [2] She was also known as Fawzia Chirine (or Shirin), having married to Colonel Ismail Chirine, an Egyptian diplomat of Circassian origin, in 1949. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, her royal titles were no longer recognized by the Egyptian government. Until her death in 2013, she was the oldest member of the deposed Muhammad Ali Dynasty residing in Egypt. Her nephew, Fuad, who was proclaimed King Fuad II of Egypt and Sudan after the Revolution, resides in Switzerland.


Early life and education

Princess Fawzia was born Her Sultanic Highness Princess Fawzia bint Fuad at Ras el-Tin Palace, Alexandria, the eldest daughter of Sultan Fuad I of Egypt and Sudan (later King Fuad I), and his second wife, Nazli Sabri on 5 November 1921. [3] Princess Fawzia Fuad was of Albanian, Turkish, French and Circassian descent. [4] Princess Fawzia's maternal great-grandfather was Major-General Muhammad Sharif Pasha who was of Turkish origin and served as Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. [5] One of her great-great-grandfathers was Suleiman Pasha, a French army officer who served under Napoleon, converted to Islam, and oversaw an overhaul of the Egyptian army under her great-great grandfather Mohammad Ali the Great.

In addition to her sisters, Faiza, Faika and Fathia, and her brother, Farouk, [6] she had two half-siblings from her father's previous marriage to Princess Shwikar Khanum Effendi. Princess Fawzia was educated in Switzerland [3] and was fluent in English and French in addition to her native Arabic. [7]

Her beauty was often compared to that of film stars Hedy Lamarr and Vivien Leigh. [8] Fawzia as an young woman was once described as a "supremely naive, over-protected, cellophane-wrapped gift packaged little girl" who lived in "bucolic surroundings, mobbed by adoring servants, aunts, and ladies in waiting". [9]

Queen of Iran

The marriage of Princess Fawzia to Iran's Crown Prince Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was planned by the latter's father, Rezā Shāh. [10] [11] A declassified CIA report in May 1972 described the union as a political move. [12] The marriage was also significant in that it united a Sunni royal, the Princess, and a Shia royal, the Crown Prince. [13] The Pahlavis were a parvenu house as Reza Khan, the son of a peasant who entered the Iranian Army as a private, rising up to become a general, had seized power in a 1921 coup, and he was most anxious have the House of Pahlavi married to the House of Ali, who had reigned over Egypt since 1805. [14]

The Egyptians were not impressed with the gifts sent by Reza Khan to King Farouk as to persuade him to marry his sister to Mohammad Reza, and when an Iranian delegation arrived in Cairo to arrange the marriage, the Egyptians took the Iranians on a tour of the palaces built by Isma'il Pasha, known as "Isma'il the Magnificent", to show them proper royal splendor. [15] King Farouk was not initially interested in marrying off his sister to the Crown Prince of Iran, but Aly Maher Pasha, the king's favorite political adviser, persuaded him that a marriage alliance with Iran would improve Egypt's position within the Islamic world and against Britain. [16] At the same time, Maher Pasha was working on plans to marry off Farouk's other sisters to King Faisal II of Iraq and to the son of Emir Abdullah of Jordan, planning on forging an Egyptian-dominated bloc in the Middle East.. [17] To prepare for life in Iran, Fawzia was assigned a tutor to teach her Farsi. [18]  

Princess Fawzia of Egypt and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were engaged in May 1938. [19] [20] However, they saw each other only once before their wedding. [21] They married at the Abdeen Palace in Cairo on 15 March 1939. [13] [22] King Farouk took the couple on a tour of Egypt, showing them the Pyramids, Al-Azhar University, and other famous sites in Egypt. [23] The contrast between the Crown Prince Mohammad Reza, dressed in a simple uniform of an Iranian officer vs. the lavish opulence of the Egyptian court, with the famously free-spending Farouk who wore expensive suits was much remarked upon at the time. [23] After the wedding, King Farouk had a twenty course meal to celebrate the wedding at the Abdeen Palace. [24] At the time Mohammad Reza lived in awe of his overbearing father, Reza Khan, and was dominated by Farouk, who was considerably more self-confident. [25] Afterwards, Fawzia departed for Iran together with her mother, Queen Nazli, on a train trip that saw the electricity break down several times, causing the two women to feel like they were going on a camping trip. [26]  

When they returned to Iran the wedding ceremony was repeated at Marble Palace, Tehran, which was also their future residence. [7] [21] As Mohammad Reza spoke no Turkish (one of the languages of the Egyptian elite, the other being French) and Fawzia was described as being only "competent" in  Persian, the two talked to each in French, which both were fluent in. [27] Upon arriving in Tehran, Reza Khan had the main streets of Tehran decorated with banners and arches, and had a celebration at the Amjadiye stadium attended by 25, 000 of the Iranian elite with synchronized acrobatics by students being followed by bastani (Iranian calisthenics), fencing, and football. [28] The wedding dinner was a French-style dinner with "caviar from the Caspian Sea", "Consommé Royal", fish, fowl and lamb. [29] Fawzia disliked Reza Khan, whom she described as a violent and thuggish man prone to attacking people with either his whip or riding crop. [30] In contrast to the French food she had grown up with in Egypt, Princess Fawzia found the food at the Iranian court sub-par. [31] In the same way, Fawzia found that the palaces of Iran could not compared to the palaces that she had grown up in Egypt. [32]

Following the marriage, the Princess was granted Iranian nationality. [33] Two years later the crown prince succeeded his exiled father and was to become the Shah of Iran. Soon after her husband’s ascent to the throne, Queen Fawzia appeared on the cover of the 21 September 1942, issue of Life magazine, photographed by Cecil Beaton, who described her as an "Asian Venus" with "a perfect heart-shaped face and strangely pale but piercing blue eyes." [22] She led the newly founded Association for the Protection of Pregnant Women and Children (APPWC) in Iran. [34]

With Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi she had one child, a daughter: [35]

The marriage was not a success. Fawzia was deeply unhappy in Iran, and often missed Egypt. [37] Fawzia's relations with her mother-in-law and her sisters-in-law were notably tempestuous as the Queen Mother and her daughters saw her as a rival for Mohammad Reza's affections, and the women constantly feuded with each other. [38] One of Mohammad Reza's sisters broke a vase over Fawzia's head. [39] The womanizing Mohammad Reza was frequently unfaithful to Fawzia, and was often seen driving around with other women in Tehran from 1940 onward. [38] Popular rumor had it that Fawzia for her part had an affair with her minder, described as an athletic, handsome man, though her friends insist that this was merely malicious gossip. [39] Fawzia's son-in-law, Ardeshir Zahedi told the Iranian-American historian Abbas Milani in a 2009 interview about the rumors: "She is a lady and never veered from the path of purity and fidelity". [39] From 1944 onward, Fawzia was treated for depression by an American psychiatrist, as she stated her marriage was a loveless one and she desperately wanted to go back to Egypt. [40]

Queen Fawzia (the title of empress was not yet used in Iran at that time) moved to Cairo in May 1945 [41] and obtained an Egyptian divorce. The reason for her return was that she viewed Tehran as underdeveloped in contrast to modern, cosmopolitan Cairo. [42] [43] She consulted an American psychiatrist in Baghdad for her troubles shortly before she left Tehran. [41] On the other hand, CIA reports claim that Princess Fawzia ridiculed and humiliated the Shah due to his supposed impotence, leading to their separation. [43] In her book Ashraf Pahlavi, twin sister of the Shah, argues that it was the Princess not the Shah who asked for divorce. [21] Fawzia left Iran for Egypt, and despite numerous attempts on the part of the Shah to persuade her to return, she remained put in Cairo. [44] Mohammad Reza told the British ambassador in 1945 that his mother was "probably the main obstacle to the return of the Queen". [44]

This divorce was first not recognized for several years by Iran, but eventually an official divorce was obtained in Iran, on 17 November 1948, with Queen Fawzia successfully reclaiming her previous distinction of Princess of Egypt as well. A major condition of the divorce was that her daughter be left behind to be raised in Iran. [45] Incidentally, Queen Fawzia’s brother, King Farouk, also divorced his first wife, Queen Farida, in November 1948. [45] [46]

In the official announcement of the divorce, it was stated that "the Persian climate had endangered the health of Empress Fawzia, and that thus it was agreed that the Egyptian King’s sister be divorced." In another official statement, the Shah said that the dissolution of the marriage "cannot affect by any means the existing friendly relations between Egypt and Iran." [47] After her divorce Princess Fawzia headed the Egyptian court. [42]

Later life

Princess Fawzia with Ismail Chirine Fawzia-ismail.jpg
Princess Fawzia with Ismail Chirine

On 28 March 1949, at the Koubba Palace in Cairo, Princess Fawzia married Colonel Ismail Chirine (or Shirin) (1919–1994), who was the eldest son of Hussein Chirine Bey and his wife, HH Princess Amina Bihruz Khanum Effendi. [48] [49] He was a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge and a one-time Egyptian minister of war and the navy. Following the wedding they lived in an estate owned by the Princess in Maadi, Cairo. [49] [50] They also resided in a villa in Smouha, Alexandria. [51] Unlike her first marriage, this time Fawzia married for love and she was described as far happier being married to Colonel Chrine than she ever had been to the Shah of Iran. [52]

They had two children, one daughter and one son: [53]

Fawzia lived in Egypt after the 1952 Revolution that toppled King Farouk. [55] Princess Fawzia's death was mistakenly reported in January 2005. Journalists had confused her with her niece, Princess Fawzia Farouk (1940–2005), one of the three daughters of King Farouk. In her later life, Princess Fawzia lived in Alexandria, Egypt, where she died on 2 July 2013 at the age of 91. [3] [56] Her funeral ceremony was held after noon prayers at Sayeda Nafisa Mosque in Cairo on 3 July. [57] She was buried in Cairo next to her second husband. [22]


A town in Iran, Fawziabad, was named for Princess Fawzia in 1939. [7] A street in Maadi, Cairo, was again named for her in 1950 as Amira Fawzia street, but in 1956 it was renamed as Mustafa Kamel street. [58]




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Fawzia Fuad of Egypt
Born: 5 November 1921 Died: 2 July 2013
Iranian royalty
Preceded by
Tadj ol-Molouk
Queen consort of Iran
Title next held by
Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari