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1952 - Egyptian Revolution

Egyptian Revolution a military coup d'etat by the 'Free Officers' forces the Egyptian King Farouk to abdicate, removes remnants of British influence in the government, and creates a republic in Egypt

Prior to 1952 Egypt has been ruled by King Farouk I, and it still suffered from the traces of British influence on the government (in 1952, Britain’s occupation of Egypt was entering its 70th year).

Led by a young Gamal Abdel-Nasser and veteran General Mohamed Naguib, a group of ambitious Egyptian army officers known as the ”Free Officers” carried out a coup d’etat where they forced King Farouk I to abdicate to his young infant son, Crown Prince Ahmed II.  The deposed king and his family sailed comfortably into exile in the royal yacht on 26 July. A 21-gun salute was fired in his honour. 

The excesses of Farouk’s lifestyle, his distance from those he ruled (he was unable even to sign in correct Arabic on his abdication paperwork) and the corruption of his regime were not the issues which caused his fall. Egypt’s humiliation by Israel in 1948 was largely due to Israel’s military superiority, Farouk’s ineptitude and the disunity of the Arab camp, but the Egyptian king’s rule remained intact.

The driving force for systemic change was a profound sense on the part of Nasser and his co-conspirators that the time had arrived for a new political order that provided Egyptians with a sense of dignity. In practical terms, that meant focused on redistribution of land and wealth from the overwhelmingly expatriate elements of the population (Greek, Italian, Jewish and British), as well as  removing the British presence from its remaining military base on the Suez Canal


However, the revolution’s leadership started to crack from within as the council was divided over the reforms to be implemented.  General Mohamed Naguib became Egypt’s first president in 1953 although he ruled briefly. Succeeding him was Gamal Abdel Nasser, a charismatic figure who would become known worldwide as vocal opponent to anti-colonialism, an endorser of self-determination, a pan-Arabism pioneer and the face of Egyptian nationalism.


Further Reading


BBC - On This Day: Egyptian Army Ousts Prime Minister

Australian Institute of International Affairs - Egypt's Revolution and the Lessons for Today

Al Jazeera - Arab Unity: Nasser's Revolution

1952 - Death George VI

Funeral of King George VI - thousands gather to bid farewell to the British monarch who had reigned for 15 years and seen Britain through the war

On January 31st, looking tired and frail four months after an operation for lung cancer, the King waved goodbye to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at London Airport as they set off to East Africa. His doctors had kept the truth of his condition from him and though his family knew, they had to go through the motions. He went up to Sandringham in Norfolk and went out hare-shooting in a cheerful frame of mind with a group of friends on a bright, cold day on February 5th. After planning the next day’s sport the King went up to bed about 10.30 that night, went to sleep around midnight and never woke up. Early the next morning he was found dead in bed. He was fifty-six years old and had been King for fifteen years, since December 1936, in which time, shy and stammering and unprepared, he had earned considerable respect and affection.

The new queen and her husband returned from Africa at once. On February 11th the late King’ s coffin was moved from the church at Sandringham to Westminster Hall in London to lie in state while more than 300,000 people filed past. Foreign royalties and heads of state gathered in London for the funeral. 

The 15th, a Friday, dawned cloudy and misty. At 9.30 the mile-long cortege began its slow journey from Westminster Hall as Big Ben tolled fifty-six times – once for each year of the King’ s life – and artillery salutes of fifty-six guns were fired in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London. The route along the Mall passed Marlborough House, where Queen Mary watched from a window, and continued past St James’s Palace through London to Paddington station, where the coffin was placed in a train.

In a carriage behind the coffin came the Queen, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and the Princess Royal shrouded in black, followed on foot by the closest male members of the family – the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Windsor and the Duke of Kent. Behind them came heads of state, foreign royalties, diplomats and other dignitaries, with more cavalry and detachments from the police and the fire services bringing up the rear.

From Paddington the coffin was taken by train to Windsor for burial in St George’s Chapel, where the King’s father and grandfather, George V and Edward VII, had been buried, and among his earlier predecessors both Henry VIII and Charles I. The government sent a wreath of white lilac and white carnations in the shape of the George Cross with an inscription signed by Winston Churchill. At the centre in purple letters were the words ‘ For Gallantry’ .


Further Reading


George VI Memorial - The Death and Funeral of a King

Royal Splendour - Three Queens and a Funeral: King George VI is Buried

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