Friday, July 05, 2013
Orient Beauty: Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt
Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt passed away--at age 91--two days ago on July 2nd, in Alexandria Egypt. She lived a long life--filled with glamor and style--and yes, her share of sadness I am sure. She was the first wife of Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran (he married three times) and therefore, upon marriage to the Shah, became Queen of Iran (the Empress of Iran title came with the third and last wife, the Shahbanou Farah Diba). Their marriage occurred in 1939. She bore him a daughter in 1942 and soon after in 1945, she was "over it" and obtained an Egyptian divorce in 1945, and moved back to Egypt. In 1948, she finally got an Iranian divorce so it was finally "done and done". Five months after the divorce, Fawzia married Col Ismail Shirin, an Egyptian aristocrat who held diplomatic and military posts under King Farouk. They lived together in Alexandria until his death in 1994, and had a son and a daughter...
Princess Fawzia at Queen Narriman Sadek's Wedding to King Farouk of Egypt, 1951
Chic Suiting and hat: Princess Fawzia, 1930's
The Dish: Princess Fawzia:
She was the youngest daughter of King Fuad of Egypt and youngest sister to King Farouk of Egypt, the last monarch of Egypt. She was of Albanian, French and Circassian descent (the Egyptian royal family was not ethnically Egyptian). Princess Fawzia was a member of the Muhammad Ali dynasty, a family of Albanian origin. Born on November 5 1921, Fawzia grew up in royal palaces and gardens, shielded from the outside world by an English governess. She looked liked Hollywood actress Vivien Leigh.
Couture and Jewels: Princess Fawzia, 1939
A shy, pretty girl with blue eyes and black hair, she was described by the Egyptian writer and courtier Adel Sabit 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”.
She was 17 when the match with the young Iranian crown prince was first discussed. By this time she had been educated in Switzerland, and she enjoyed socializing, European fashion, and had never worn the veil. But once back in Egypt, her status as royal princess allowed her little freedom. “Fawzia was in those days virtually a prisoner in her mother’s houseboat on the Nile,” Adel Sabit wrote. “She rarely went out, and when she did she was surrounded by ladies-in-waiting and retainers. At a time when all other young girls were enjoying a relative freedom, Fawzia, by virtue of her position, was closely hemmed in.”
Queen of Iran:
Wedding to then Crown Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, 1939
As a daughter of King Fuad of Egypt and the youngest sister of King Farouk, Fawzia had the royal blood that the ruler Reza Shah sought for his son; a match with an old royal family would add lustre to Iran’s shallow-rooted monarchy. Having conceived the idea of a match with an Egyptian princess, Reza Shah sent an ambassador to Cairo to canvas the royal family’s opinion.
Princess Fawzia and Reza Pahlavi
The wedding rites were conducted twice: in Cairo, on 15 March 1939, according to Sunni custom; a Shi’ite ceremony took place later in Tehran. The royal couple flew to Tehran the next day, along with Fawzia’s personal effects in 200 trunks and suitcases. The Persian ceremony included seven days of feasting. Prisoners were released from jail, and food and money were given to the poor in celebration. Because Iranian law required that only an Iranian could become queen, a hasty bill was passed bestowing on Fawzia “the quality of Persianness”. Life in Tehran for Fawzia was very different, but no less restrictive than the existence she had left behind. The couple were happy at first, and their only child — a daughter, Shahnaz — was born on October 27 1940.
The Shah of Iran, Queen Fawzia and their daughter, Shahnaz
But as the 1940s proceeded, life in Tehran became increasingly hard to bear. Her retinue of Egyptian servants was dismissed. To fend off boredom, Fawzia began to spend much of her time in bed and playing cards. She spoke to her husband and members of the court in French, having made a half-hearted attempt to learn Persian which she gave up after a few months.
Reports began to reach Cairo that the Empress was in poor health. Since her arrival in Tehran, she had suffered regular bouts of malaria and other ailments. In 1948 it was announced: “The Empress Fawzia... returned to Egypt to recuperate after a severe attack of malaria. It is announced that her doctors have forbidden her to return to the climate and elevation of Tehran, and so in full accord with the Shah and with good will on both sides, the marriage has been ended.” Five months after the divorce, Fawzia married Col Ismail Shirin, an Egyptian aristocrat who held diplomatic and military posts under King Farouk. They lived together in Alexandria until his death in 1994, and had a son and a daughter.
Princess Fawzia: The Middle East Stylista:
Asian Venus: "Life" Magazine described Queen Fawzia of Iran, as such, for having “a perfect heart-shaped face and strangely pale but piercing blue eyes.”
Fashionista Fawzia: Princess Fawzia of Egypt
In the eyes of the world, Fawzia was the epitome of glamour, her style a mixture of European fashion and oriental mystique. Her portrait, taken by Cecil Beaton, appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1942. “She had sad and mournful eyes,” Beaton wrote, “pitch-black hair, a perfectly sculpted face and soft, graceful hands bereft of the wrinkles of labour.” Shortly after the divorce from the Shah of Iran, Princess Fawzia went to the famous, French milliner Suzanne Talbot and ordered 100 hats, just because she decided to wear hats.
Hat and Fur Love: Princess Fawzia of Egypt
Two years later, in 1951, the princess of Egypt attended the Jacques Fath Couture runway show, and Fawzia and her sisters reportedly ordered "coats, cocktail gowns, evening dresses, fur garments and casual outfit", and alone Fawzia also ordered a large number of formal suits. Indeed, Fawzia was a fashionista. Princess Fawzia would have been a "Hola!" Magazine DREAM: Gorgeous; loves fashion, traveling and jewels...what more could you ask for in a royal?
Princess Fawzia of Egypt