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15 March 2011

On this day in history: Fouad became King of Egypt, 1922

Ahmed Fouad Pasha was born on 26th March 1868 in the Giza Palace, Cairo. He was the seventh son of the newly installed Khedive of Egypt, Isma'il Pasha. The Khedivate of Egypt ended when the United Kingdom declared a Protectorate over the country, then nominally a part of the Ottoman Empire. The British deposed Khedive Abbas Hilmi II and installed his uncle, Hussein Kamel, as Sultan. Following his death in October 1917, he was succeeded by his brother Fouad.

After the signing of the armistice in 1918, a delegation of Egyptian nationalists approached the British High Commissioner, Reginald Wingate, to request an end to the Protectorate and a place for Egypt at the upcoming peace conference in Paris. In response, the British arrested nationalist leaders and exiled them to Malta, resulting in a widespread revolt. In December 1919, the British Government sent a Commission of Enquiry, headed by Lord Millner, to determine the causes of the revolt and to decide the political future of the country.

Lord Millner published his report in February 1921, in which he recommended the end of the Egyptian Protectorate. A year later, on 22nd February 1922, the British Government issued a unilateral declaration of Egyptian independence; although they would continue to protect their interests with regard to the Suez Canal. On 15th March, Fouad proclaimed himself King of Egypt and Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, Kordofan, and Darfur.

The following year, Egypt adopted a constitution that instituted a bicameral legislature to which all members of the House of Representatives and three fifths of the Senate would be elected. Fouad retained many powers, which he used frequently to dissolve the parliament. In 1930 he instituted a new constitution that severely limited the parliamentary power, but popular dissatisfaction forced him to restore the 1923 Constitution a year before his death in 1936.

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