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Abbas II of Egypt

Abbas II of Egypt

The basics
Quick Facts
A.K.A. Abbas II of Egypt, Abbas Hilmi II
Gender male
Birth 14 July 1874 (Alexandria)
Death 19 December 1944 (Geneva)
Residence Alexandria
Mother: Amina Najiba Khanum Effendi
Father: Tewfik Pasha
Spouse: Marianna TörökIkbal Khanum Effendi
Children: Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim
The details

Abbas II Hilmi Bey (also known as ‘Abbās Ḥilmī Pasha) (Arabic: عباس حلمي باشا‎‎) (14 July 1874 – 19 December 1944) was the last Khedive (Ottoman viceroy) of Egypt and Sudan, ruling from 8 January 1892 to 19 December 1914. In 1914, after Turkey joined the Central Powers in World War I, the nationalist Khedive was removed by the British, then ruling Egypt, in favor of his more pro-British uncle, Hussein Kamel, marking the de jure end of Egypt's four-century era as a province of the Ottoman Empire, which had begun in 1517.

Early life

Abbas II (full name: Malik Muhammad Abbas Hilmi Sheikh Abdul Hamid Amir Ghulam Ali Mirza Khan Pasha), the great-great-grandson of Muhammad Ali, was born in Alexandria, Egypt on 14 July 1874. He succeeded his father, Tewfik Pasha, as Khedive of Egypt and Sudan on 8 January 1892. In 1887 he was ceremonially circumcised together with his younger brother Mohammed Ali Tewfik. The festivities lasted for three weeks and were carried out under great pomp. As a boy he visited the United Kingdom, and he had a number of British tutors in Cairo including a governess who taught him English. In a profile of Abbas II, the boys' annual, Chums, gives a lengthy account of his education. His father established a small school near the Abdin Palace in Cairo where European, Arab and Turkish masters taught Abbas and his brother Mohammed Ali Tewfik. An American officer in the Egyptian army took charge of his military training. He attended school at Lausanne, Switzerland; then, at the age of twelve he was sent to the Haxius School in Geneva, in preparation for his entry into the Theresianum in Vienna. In addition to Turkish, he had good conversational knowledge of English, French and German. He didn't speak Arabic.


He was still in college in Vienna when he assumed the throne of the Khedivate of Egypt upon the sudden death of his father, 8 January 1892. He was barely of age according to Egyptian law; normally, eighteen in cases of succession to the throne. For some time he did not cooperate very cordially with the British, whose army had occupied Egypt in 1882. As he was young and eager to exercise his new power, he resented the interference of the British Agent and Consul General in Cairo, Sir Evelyn Baring, later made Lord Cromer. At the outset of his reign, Khedive Abbas II surrounded himself with a coterie of European advisers who opposed the British occupation of Egypt and Sudan and encouraged the young khedive to challenge Cromer by replacing his ailing prime minister with an Egyptian nationalist. At Cromer's behest, Lord Rosebery, the British foreign secretary, sent Abbas II a letter stating that the Khedive was obliged to consult the British consul on such issues as cabinet appointments. In January 1894 Abbas II, while on an inspection tour of Egyptian army installations near the southern border, the Mahdists being at the time still in control of Sudan, made public remarks disparaging the Egyptian army units commanded by British officers. The British commander of the Egyptian army, Sir Herbert Kitchener, immediately offered to resign. Cromer strongly supported Kitchener and pressed the Khedive and prime minister to retract the Khedive's criticisms of the British officers.

By 1899 he had come to accept British counsels. Also in 1899 British diplomat Alfred Mitchell-Innes was appointed Under-Secretary of State for Finance in Egypt, and in 1900 Abbas II paid a second visit to Britain, during which he said he thought the British had done good work in Egypt, and declared himself ready to cooperate with the British officials administering Egypt and Sudan. He gave his formal approval for the establishment of a sound system of justice for Egyptian nationals, a great reduction in taxation, increased affordable and sound education, the inauguration of the substantial irrigation works such as the Aswan Low Dam and the Assiut Barrage, and the reconquest of Sudan. He displayed more interest in agriculture than in statecraft. His farm of cattle and horses at Qubbah, near Cairo, was a model for agricultural science in Egypt, and he created a similar establishment at Muntazah, just east of downtown Alexandria. He married the Princess Ikbal Hanem and had several children. Muhammad Abdul Mun'im, the heir-apparent, was born on 20 February 1899.

Although Abbas II no longer publicly opposed the British, he secretly created, supported, and sustained the Egyptian nationalist movement, which came to be led by Mustafa Kamil. He also funded the anti-British newspaper Al-Mu'ayyad. As Kamil's thrust was increasingly aimed at winning popular support for a National Party, Khedive Abbas publicly distanced himself from the Nationalists. Their demand for a constitutional government in 1906 was rebuffed by Abbas II, and the following year he formed the National Party, led by Mustafa Kamil Pasha, to counter the Ummah Party of the Egyptian moderates. However, in general, he had no real political power. When the Egyptian Army was sent to fight Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi in Sudan in 1896, he only found out about it because the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Francis Ferdinand was in Egypt and told him after being informed of it by a British Army officer.

His relations with Cromer's successor, Sir Eldon Gorst, however, were excellent, and they co-operated in appointing the cabinets headed by Butrus Ghali in 1908 and Muhammad Sa'id in 1910 and in checking the power of the Nationalist Party. The appointment of Kitchener to succeed Gorst in 1912 displeased Abbas II, and relations between the Khedive and the British deteriorated. Kitchener, who exiled or imprisoned the leaders of the National party, often complained about "that wicked little Khedive" and wanted to depose him.

On 25 July 1914, at the onset of World War I, Abbas II was in Constantinople and was wounded in his hands and cheeks during a failed assassination attempt. On 5 November 1914 when Great Britain declared war on Turkey, he was accused of deserting Egypt by not returning home forthwith. The British also believed that he was plotting against their rule, as he had attempted to appeal to Egyptians and Sudanese to support the Central Powers against the British, so when the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in World War I, the United Kingdom declared Egypt a Sultanate under British protection on 18 December 1914 and deposed Abbas II. During the war, Abbas II supported the Ottomans, including leading an attack on the Suez Canal. He was replaced by the British by his uncle Hussein Kamel from 1914 to 1917, with the title of sultan. Hussein Kamel issued a series of restrictive orders to strip Abbas II of property in Egypt and Sudan and forbade contributions to him. These also barred Abbas from entering Egyptian territory and stripped him of the right to sue in Egyptian courts. This did not prevent his progeny, however, from exercising their rights. Abbas II finally accepted the new order on 12 May 1931 and formally abdicated. He retired to Switzerland, where he wrote The Anglo-Egyptian Settlement (1930) and died at Geneva on 19 December 1944, aged 70.

Marriages and issue

His first marriage in Cairo on 19 February 1895 was to Ikbal Hanem (Crimean Peninsula, Russian Empire, 22 October 1876 – Jerusalem, 10 February 1941), and they had six children - two sons and four daughters:

  • Princess Emine Hilmi Khanum Efendi (Montaza Palace, Alexandria, 12 February 1895 – 1954), unmarried and without issue
  • Princess Atiyetullah Khanum Efendi (Cairo, 9 June 1896 – 1971), married first Jalaluddin Pasha (Caucasus 1885 – Istanbul 1930), fourth son of Mehmed Ferid Pasha, married second Ahmad Shavkat Bey Bayur, second son of Kâmil Pasha. She had issue two sons by her first Husband.
  • Princess Fethiye Khanum Efendi (27 November 1897 – 30 November 1923), married Hami Bey, without issue.
  • Prince/HRH Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim Bey Efendi, Heir Apparent and Regent of Egypt and Sudan (Montaza Palace, Alexandria, 20 February 1899 – Istanbul, 1 December 1979), married Fatma Neslişah (Nişantaşı Palace, Istanbul 4 February 1921 – Heliopolis Palace, Cairo 2 April 2012) in Cairo 26 September 1940, and had two children:
    • Prince Sultanzade Abbas Hilmi (born 1941), married and had one daughter and one son
    • Princess İkbal Hilmi Abdulmunim Hanımsultan (born 1944), unmarried and without issue
  • Princess Lütfiye Şevket (Cairo, 29 September 1900 – 1975 Cairo), married Omar Muhtar Katırcıoğlu (Çamlıca, Turkey 1902 – Istanbul 15 July 1935), third son of Mahmud Muhtar Pasha and Princess Nimetullah Khanum Effendi, a daughter of Isma'il Pasha, on 5 May 1923 and had two daughters:
    • Emine Neşedil Katırcıoğlu (born 1927), widow who had three daughters
    • Zehra Kadriye Katırcıoğlu (Istanbul 12 March 1929 – Istanbul 15 May 2012), married Ahmet Cevat Tugay and had four sons and a daughter
  • Prince Muhammed Abdel Kader (4 February 1902 – Montreux, 21 April 1919)

His second marriage in Çubuklu, Turkey on 1 March 1910 was to Hungarian noblewoman Marianna Török de Szendrö, who took the name Zübeyde Cavidan Hanım (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., 8 January 1874 – after 1951). They divorced in 1913 without issue.


date Award Nation Ribbon
1890 Order of the Polar Star, Grand Cross Sweden SWE Order of the Polar Star (after 1975) - Commander Grand Cross BAR.png
1891 Order of Franz Joseph, Grand Cross Austria-Hungary Ord.Franz.Joseph-GC.png
1891 Order of St Michael and St George, Knight Grand Cross (Honorary) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland UK Order St-Michael St-George ribbon.svg
1892 Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross (Honorary) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Order of the Bath (ribbon).svg
1892 Légion d'honneur, Grand-Croix France Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg
1892 Order of the Dannebrog, Grand Cross Denmark DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png
1892 Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knight Grand Cross The Netherlands NLD Order of the Dutch Lion - Grand Cross BAR.png
1895 Order of the Medjidie, 1st Class Ottoman Empire Order of the Medjidie lenta.png
1895 Order of Osmanieh, 1st Class Ottoman Empire Order of the Osmanie lenta.png
1897 Order of Leopold, Grand Cross Austria-Hungary Ord Leopold-GC.png
1897 Order of Chula Chom Klao, Knight Grand Cordon Kingdom of Siam Order of Chula Chom Klao - Special Class (Thailand) ribbon.png
1900 Royal Victorian Order, Knight Grand Cross (honorary) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Royal Victorian Order Honorary Ribbon.png
1902 Order of St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Empire RUS Order of St. Alexander Nevsky BAR.png
1905 Royal Victorian Chain United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Royal Victorian Chain Ribbon.gif
1905 Order of Charles III, Grand Cross Kingdom of Spain ESP Charles III Order GC.svg
1905 House and Merit Order of Peter Frederick Louis, Grand Cross Grand Duchy of Oldenburg Ord.Pietr.Fed.Luigi.PNG
1905 Saxe-Ernestine House Order, Grand Cross Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg, Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen D-SAX Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden BAR.svg
1905 Order of Albert, Grand Cross Saxony Royal.Albert.Order.Saxe.PNG
1905 Order of the Redeemer, Grand Cross Greece GRE Order Redeemer 1Class.png
1905 Order of Prince Danilo I, Knight Grand Cross Montenegro ME Order of Danilo I Knight Grand Cross BAR.svg
1905 Order of Carol I, Grand Cross Romania OrderofCarolI.ribbon.gif
1905 Order of Pius IX, Knight Grand Cross Vatican Order Pius Ribbon 1kl.png
1905 Order of Saint Stephen, Grand Cross Austria-Hungary Ord.S.Stefano.Ungh..JPG
1908 Order of Saint Stanislaus (Imperial House of Romanov), Knight Russia Order of Saint Stanislaus Ribbon.PNG
1908 Order of the Royal House of Chakri, Knight Kingdom of Siam Order of the Royal House of Chakri (Thailand) ribbon.png
1911 Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Knight Grand Cross Italy Cavaliere di gran Croce Regno SSML BAR.svg
1911 Order of Ludwig, Grand Cross Grand Duchy of Hesse Ludwig Order (Hesse) - ribbon bar.png
1911 Order of Leopold, Grand Cordon Belgium Grand Crest Ordre de Leopold.png
1911 Order of the Star, Grand Cross Ethiopia
1913 Order of Ouissam Alaouite, Grand Cross Morocco MAR Order of the Ouissam Alaouite - Grand Cross (1913-1956) BAR.png
1914 Order of the Black Eagle, Grand Cross Albania ALB Order of the Black Eagle BAR.png
1914 Order of the Red Eagle, Grand Cross with Collar Prussia PRU Roter Adlerorden BAR.svg
1914 Order of the Exalted, Grand Cordon Sultanate of Zanzibar


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