Obituary: Princess Faiza Rauf

Faiza, Princess of Egypt: born Cairo 8 November 1923; married 1945 Mehmet Ali Rauf (marriage dissolved); died Los Angeles, California 6 June 1994.

IN THE 1940s and 1950s Princess Faiza was what what every lover of Hollywood movies dreamt that an Egyptian princess should be. Beautiful, rich, sophisticated, exotic. She had the sultry looks of a Hollywood screen-goddess, and she even appeared to have the life to go with it.

But her personal life was filled with tragedy. . She and her family paid heavily for the life they were born into. Her sister Princess Fawzia, the first wife of the Shah of Iran, suffered a nervous breakdown and become anorexic at the appalling treatment she received in Tehran. Her brother King Farouk, who as Faiza would say was 'not mad, just bad', became so jealous and suspicious of her and her husband that he placed them both under house arrest; she remained convinced that having left Egypt her brother was murdered, and did not die innocently as is claimed. In later years her sister Princess Fathia was murdered in Los Angeles by her own husband.

The five Fs, the children of King Fuad and Queen Nazli - Princesses Fathia, Fawzia, Faika, Faiza and the king-to-be Farouk - were all named for the good luck that proved so elusive for them. It is telling that Princess Faiza's death was not announced in any Western paper for over a month after her death. She had, it seems, simply been forgotten.

Faiza believed that their problems as a family began in the isolated world they grew up in at court. For, although the Egyptian court was to the outsider an extraordinary fairy-tale world, Faiza knew it to be a gilded cage. But she succeeded in learning what her brother never understood, namely how the real world operated. She was determined not to lead a life of court restrictions. Refusing to marry some Middle Eastern potentate, instead she chose to marry her cousin Mehmet Ali Rauf, a Western-educated scholar, in 1945. Because he was the grandson of the Khedive Ishmael Pasha, her brother had no choice but to accede to her request.

Their home in Cairo, the Zohria Palace, was regarded as an oasis of civilisation by the many English to whom they played host. But what seemed for the first years to be an ideal marriage soon became strained. After her brother abdicated in 1952, all her property in Egypt was confiscated, even her family photograph albums. Her past was wiped out, and money problems loomed. She lived for some years in Paris, but tired of the ranks of exiled royalty eking out a living in Europe. Her marriage had already failed, she divorced, and with her remaining funds left for America.

Despite offers by rich suitors she chose to remain single and keep her independence - she would not become a rich American's captive 'Princess'. She kept her husband's name (she always remembered him with great affection) and she set out to create a new life. When asked why she didn't come to England, where she had many friends, she said that in England she would still be expected to behave in certain ways, while in Hollywood she could mix freely with people from every walk of life. Yet for all of this Faiza, like all exiled people, deep down longed for her country, a country which perhaps had become only a place in her imagination. She could not be persuaded back to Egypt - even Sadat had tried and failed. But her loyalties were patent, and in 1992 she was actively raising funds for Egypt's earthquake victims.

The melancholy of having seen too much of what life had exacted of her and her ill-fated family had left indelible marks. Princess Faiza knew that she could never escape her past and the spectre of her brother, yet in the last years in Los Angeles she found a new freedom - in the foothills of the same Hollywood that over 50 years ago had first stirred her imagination in the palaces of Cairo. The irony was that her own life had been more fabulous and unbelievable than any Hollywood movie.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent