Abbas II of Egypt

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Abbas II Helmy
Abbas II in 1909
Khedive of Egypt and Sudan
Reign8 January 1892 – 19(20)(21) December 1914
PredecessorTewfik I
SuccessorHussein Kamel I (as Sultan of Egypt)
Born14 July 1874 (1874-07-14)
Alexandria, Egypt[1]
Died19 December 1944(1944-12-19) (aged 70)
Geneva, Switzerland
(m. 1895; died 1941)
(m. 1910; div. 1913)
IssuePrincess Emine Helmy
Princess Atiye Helmy
Princess Fethiye Helmy
Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim
Princess Lutfiya Shavkat
Prince Muhammed Abdel Kader
FatherTewfik I
MotherEmina Ilhamy

Abbas Helmy II (also known as ʿAbbās Ḥilmī Pāshā, Egyptian Arabic: عباس حلمي باشا) (14 July 1874 – 19 December 1944) was the last Khedive of Egypt and the Sudan, ruling from 8 January 1892 to 19 December 1914.[2][nb 1] In 1914, after the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in World War I, the nationalist Khedive was removed by the British, then ruling Egypt, in favour 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[edit]

Abbas II (full name: Abbas Hilmy), the great-great-grandson of Muhammad Ali, was born in Alexandria, Egypt on 14 July 1874.[4] In 1887 he was ceremonially circumcised together with his younger brother Mohammed Ali Tewfik. The festivities lasted for three weeks and were carried out with 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.[5] In a profile of Abbas II, the boys' annual, Chums, gave a lengthy account of his education.[6] His father established a small school near the Abdin Palace in Cairo where European, Arab and Ottoman 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;[7] then, at the age of twelve, he was sent to the Haxius School in Geneva,[citation needed] in preparation for his entry into the Theresianum in Vienna. In addition to Arabic and Ottoman Turkish, he had good conversational knowledge of English, French and German.[5][7]


Abbas II succeeded his father, Tewfik Pasha, as Khedive of Egypt and Sudan on 8 January 1892. He was still in college in Vienna when he assumed the throne of the Khedivate of Egypt upon the sudden death of his father. He was barely of age according to Egyptian law; normally eighteen in cases of succession to the throne.[5] For some time he did not willingly cooperate with the British, whose army had occupied Egypt in 1882.[3] 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.[7] Lord Cromer initially supported Abbas but the new Khedive's nationalist agenda and association with anti-colonial Islamist movements put him in direct conflict with British colonial officers, and Cromer later interceded on behalf of Lord Kitchener (British commander in the Sudan) in an ongoing dispute with Abbas about Egyptian sovereignty and influence in that territory.[8]

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.[3] 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 made an inspection tour of Sudanese and Egyptian frontier troops stationed near the southern border, the Mahdists being at the time still in control of the Sudan. At Wadi Halfa the Khedive made public remarks disparaging the Egyptian army units commanded by British officers.[3] The British Sirdar of the Egyptian army, Sir Herbert Kitchener, immediately threatened to resign. Kitchener further insisted on the dismissal of a nationalist under-secretary of war appointed by Abbas II and that an apology be made for the Khedive's criticism of the army and its officers.[9]

By 1899 he had come to accept British counsels.[10] 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 significant 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.[7] 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 Alexandria. He married the Princess Ikbal Hanem and had several children. Muhammad Abdul Moneim, the heir-apparent, was born on 20 February 1899.[citation needed]

Abbas II with King George V in 1911

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 Pasha. He also funded the anti-British newspaper Al-Mu'ayyad.[3] As Kamil's thrust was increasingly aimed at winning popular support for a nationalist political party, Khedive Abbas publicly distanced himself from the Nationalists and was labeled as being against Islam by said nationalists.[11] The western world would characterize him as a revolutionary against peace, although his main goal was to gain independence for Morocco. 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.[3][12] 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.[13]

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 National 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,[3] 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 the Ottoman Empire, he was accused of deserting Egypt by not promptly returning home. The British also believed that he was plotting against their rule,[7] 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.[3][14]

Painting commemorating Abbas II's 1909 Hajj pilgrimage, including his portrait on the left

During the war, Abbas II sought support from the Ottomans, including proposing to lead 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 of Egypt.[3][12] 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).[10] He died at Geneva on 19 December 1944, aged 70,[7] 30 years to the day after the end of his reign as Khedive.[nb 1]

Marriages and issue[edit]

His first marriage in Cairo on 19 February 1895 was to Ikbal Hanem (Istanbul, Ottoman Empire, 22 October 1876 – Istanbul, 10 February 1941), and they had six children, two sons and four daughters:[citation needed]

  • Princess Emine Helmy (Montaza Palace, Alexandria, 12 February 1895 – 1954), unmarried and without issue
  • Princess Atiyetullah (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 (27 November 1897 – 30 November 1923), married Hami Bey, without issue.
  • Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim, 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:
  • Princess Lutfiya Shavkat (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.[15]


Ribbon bar Country Honour Date Notes
Sweden Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star 1890 [16]
Austria-Hungary Grand Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph 1891 [17]
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George 23 July 1891 [18]
France Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur 1892
Denmark Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog 6 April 1892 [19]
United Kingdom Honorary Knight Grand Cross (Civil) of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath 10 June 1892 [20]
Spain Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III 4 August 1892 [21]
Netherlands Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion 1892
Ottoman Empire 1st Class of the Order of the Medjidie 1895
Ottoman Empire 1st Class of the Order of Osmanieh 1895
Austria-Hungary Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold 1897 [22]
Siam Knight Grand Cross (Special Class) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao 1897
United Kingdom Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order 28 June 1900 [23]
Russia Knight of the Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky 1902 [24]
Hesse Grand Cross of the Order of Ludwig 26 March 1903 [25]
United Kingdom Recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain 15 June 1905 [26]
Oldenburg Grand Cross of the House and Merit Order of Peter Frederick Louis 1905
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order 1905 [nb 2]
Saxony Grand Cross of the Order of Albert 1905
Greece Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer 1905
Montenegro Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Danilo I 1905
Romania Grand Cross of the Order of Carol I 1905
Vatican Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Pius IX 1905
Austria-Hungary Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen 1905 [27]
Russia Knight 1st Class of the Order of Saint Stanislaus 1908
Siam Knight of the Most Auspicious Order of the Royal House of Chakri 1908
Italy Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus 1911
Belgium Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold 1911
Ethiopia Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia 1911
Morocco Grand Cross of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite 1913
Albania Grand Cross of the Order of the Black Eagle 1914
Prussia Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Red Eagle 1914
Zanzibar Grand Cordon of the Order of the Exalted 1914


  1. ^ a b Sources give different dates for the deposition of Abbas. Some state that date as 20 or 21 December 1914.[3]
  2. ^ These three duchies were small independent free states that became part of the German Empire before World War I.


  1. ^ Rockwood 2007, p. 2
  2. ^ Thorne 1984, p. 1
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hoiberg 2010, pp. 8–9
  4. ^ Schemmel 2014
  5. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911, p. 10
  6. ^ Pemberton 1897, Abbas II.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Vucinich 1997, p. 7
  8. ^ Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. p. 41.
  9. ^ Tauris, J.B. (17 July 1995). Kitchener Hero and Anti-Hero. pp. 62–63. ISBN 1-85532-516-0.
  10. ^ a b Lagassé 2000, p. 2
  11. ^ "The Pan-islamic Movement". The Times, London. 13 March 1902. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  12. ^ a b Stearns 2001, p. 545
  13. ^ Morris 1968, p. 207
  14. ^ Magnusson & Goring 1990, p. 1
  15. ^ Van Lierop, Kathleen. "History- On this day- Abbas II of Egypt". All About Royal Families. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Kungl. Svenska Riddareordnarna", Sveriges statskalender (in Swedish), 1915, p. 725, retrieved 10 February 2021 – via
  17. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Kaiserlich-österreichischer Franz Joseph-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1913, p. 175, retrieved 9 February 2021
  18. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 342
  19. ^ Bille-Hansen, A. C.; Holck, Harald, eds. (1895) [1st pub.:1801]. Statshaandbog for Kongeriget Danmark for Aaret 1895 [State Manual of the Kingdom of Denmark for the Year 1895] (PDF). Kongelig Dansk Hof- og Statskalender (in Danish). Copenhagen: J.H. Schultz A.-S. Universitetsbogtrykkeri. pp. 15–16. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 10 February 2021 – via da:DIS Danmark.
  20. ^ Shaw, p. 213
  21. ^ "Real y distinguida orden de Carlos III", Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1930, p. 225, retrieved 10 February 2021
  22. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Österreichisch-kaiserlicher Leopold-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1913, p. 62, retrieved 9 February 2021
  23. ^ Shaw, p. 424
  24. ^ "Court Circular". The Times. No. 36799. London. 20 June 1902. p. 9.
  25. ^ "Ludeswig-orden", Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1914, p. 14 – via
  26. ^ "No. 27807". The London Gazette. 16 June 1905. p. 4251.
  27. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Königlich-ungarischer St. Stephan-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1913, p. 50, retrieved 9 February 2021


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Abbas II of Egypt
Born: 14 July 1874 Died: 19 December 1944
Regnal titles
Preceded by Khedive of Egypt and Sudan
7 January 1892 – 19 December 1914
Title next held by
Hussein Kamel
as Sultan of Egypt and Sudan