In December 1976, Riad Ghali shot dead his wife, princess Fatheyya,
sister of King Farouk. Then he turned the gun on himself, putting a
tragic end to an already depressing story that had started long ago in
1950 before the revolution, when the princess and Queen Nazli had
insisted on leaving the Royal Palace once and for all.
Riad Ghali was only a junior employee at the Foreign Ministry when the
princess fell in love with him. Insisting on marrying Ghali, the
princess fled with her mother to the United States. Fatheyya’s
brother, King Farouk, warned her to call off the wedding and return to
Egypt or run the risk of having her name lifted from all the records
of the royal corps as well as forfeiting all her own and her mother’s
financial rights. But the princess and her mother both chose to stay
in the US, where they lived for years until her terrible death at the
hands of the husband she had sacrificed so much to be with.
These are the broad outlines of the tragedy that author Salah Eissa
tackles in his substantial volume. The volume has as its sources a
host of books, periodicals and documents, as well as dozens of rare
photos, royal family documents and caricatures.
To say that the massive volume tells only the story of a royal tragedy
would be an understatement of its significance. El-Princessa wel
Afandi (The princess and the effendi) in fact brings a fresh perspective to the entire era, covering its powers, political trends, parties and parliament. It delves deep
to uncover social forces and their importance, as well as the roles
played by prominent writers, artists and thinkers of the time, while
walking us through the corridors of the royal palaces.
Introducing his book, the author says:
"Although El-Princessa wel Afandi is a historical book, I’d excuse
you if you found it to be more like a movie, some of whose scenes are
directed by Hassan el-Imam, or others by Youssef Chahine. But this is
not an unusual feature of history. So if you read the book for
amusement then I have no objections; that’s what I intended. Better
still, if you want to think with the book and with me, then this is
again what I intended. In both cases, this is your right, one which I
advise you not to give up."
Book: El-Princessa wel Afandi
Author: Salah Eisssa
Publisher: el-Shorouk, Cairo
638 large-size pages