'Abbas II

Abbas II Helmy
His Highness Abbas Hilmy II.png
Khedive of Egypt and Sudan
Coat of arms of the Egyptian Kingdom 2.png
Reign8 January 1892 – 19(20)(21) December 1914
PredecessorTewfik Pasha
SuccessorHussein Kamel (Sultan of Egypt)
Khedivate Abolished
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
DynastyMuhammad Ali
FatherTewfik Pasha
MotherEmina Ilhamy

Abbas II Helmy Bey (also known as ʿAbbās Ḥilmī Pāshā, 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.[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[]

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 commander 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. 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. 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][11] 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.[12]

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 Turkey, 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][13]

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][11] 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[]

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

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.[14]


date Award Class Nation Ribbon
1890[15] Order of the Polar Star Commander Grand Cross Sweden SWE Order of the Polar Star (after 1975) - Commander Grand Cross BAR.png
1891[16] Order of Franz Joseph Grand Cross Austria-Hungary Ord.Franz.Joseph-GC.png
23 July 1891[17] 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 Légion d'honneur Grand-Croix France Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg
6 April 1892[18] Order of the Dannebrog Grand Cross Denmark DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png
10 June 1892[19] Order of the Bath Knight Grand Cross (Honorary, civil division) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Order of the Bath UK ribbon.svg
4 August 1892[20] Order of Charles III Grand Cross Kingdom of Spain ESP Charles III Order GC.svg
1892 Order of the Netherlands Lion Knight Grand Cross The Netherlands Order of the Netherlands Lion ribbon - Knight Grand Cross.svg
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[21] 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.svg
28 June 1900[22] Royal Victorian Order Knight Grand Cross (Honorary) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Royal Victorian Order Honorary Ribbon.png
1902[23] Order of St. Alexander Nevsky Knight Russian Empire RUS Order of St. Alexander Nevsky BAR.png
26 March 1903[24] Order of Ludwig Grand Cross Grand Duchy of Hesse Ludwig Order (Hesse) - ribbon bar.png
15 June 1905[25] Royal Victorian Chain United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Royal Victorian Chain Ribbon.gif
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[nb 2] 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[nb 3] Order Pius Ribbon 1kl.png
1905[26] Order of Saint Stephen Grand Cross Austria-Hungary Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary - Ribbon bar Grand-Cross.svg
1908 Order of Saint Stanislaus Knight 1st Class Russia RUS Order św. Stanisława (baretka).svg
1908 Order of the Royal House of Chakri Knight Kingdom of Siam Order of the Royal House of Chakri (Thailand) ribbon.svg
1911 Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus Knight Grand Cross Italy Cavaliere di gran Croce Regno SSML BAR.svg
1911 Order of Leopold Grand Cordon Belgium Grand Crest Ordre de Leopold.png
1911 Order of the Star of Ethiopia Grand Cross Ethiopia ETH Order of the Star of Ethiopia - Grand Cross BAR.png
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[citation needed] Zanzibar Bavaria012.png


  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.
  3. ^ The Vatican City did not officially exist as a nation until 1929.


  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. ^ a b Stearns 2001, p. 545
  12. ^ Morris 1968, p. 207
  13. ^ Magnusson & Goring 1990, p. 1
  14. ^ Van Lierop, Kathleen. "History- On this day- Abbas II of Egypt". All About Royal Families. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Kungl. Svenska Riddareordnarna", Sveriges statskalender (in Swedish), 1915, p. 725, retrieved 10 February 2021 – via runeberg.org
  16. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Kaiserlich-österreichischer Franz Joseph-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1913, p. 175, retrieved 9 February 2021
  17. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 342
  18. ^ 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. Retrieved 10 February 2021 – via da:DIS Danmark.
  19. ^ Shaw, p. 213
  20. ^ "Real y distinguida orden de Carlos III", Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1930, p. 225, retrieved 10 February 2021
  21. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Österreichisch-kaiserlicher Leopold-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1913, p. 62, retrieved 9 February 2021
  22. ^ Shaw, p. 424
  23. ^ "Court Circular". The Times. No. 36799. London. 20 June 1902. p. 9.
  24. ^ "Ludeswig-orden", Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1914, p. 14 – via hathitrust.org
  25. ^ "No. 27807". The London Gazette. 16 June 1905. p. 4251.
  26. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Königlich-ungarischer St. Stephan-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1913, p. 50, retrieved 9 February 2021


Further reading[]

External links[]

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