When we talk about people who are alive and active, we tend to judge and criticize. It is very hard to write about someone whom we have lost, ever painful, and always too late…the paradox of life is when you realize what people mean to you and when you are prepared to talk and write they are not around to read or listen.
Last November Egypt said farewell to one unique person, an iconic figure from times before the time, an unmatched legacy of dignity, grace and passion. We, Egyptians tend to give titles to almost everyone; anyone can suddenly be named a ‘doctor’, a police officer is a “pacha’ and a pretentious woman can be a ‘princess’..but only when we see a real pacha, a real and true princess that we realize that rankings come from within. A sense of deep grief overwhelmed me when I figured that only a few princesses are left.
When I met with HRH princess Ferial last June, HM King Farouk’s eldest and last surviving daughter; it was my first time. I never envisioned that this would be the last as well.
I was fortunate to get the opportunity to tell her that throughout most of my life I have known her from all the pictures, books and stamps. I remember her laughing and saying that she had only one stamp. When I made it to the hotel where we were meeting, I was about two hours late. She was there waiting with no sighs or frowns, but a graceful smile that tolerated the painful years. I had planned to print some of the pictures we host on "The Egyptian Royalty Website", and also some of the never before revealed private pictures. The photo shop handed them to me late and I was racing against time trying to put them together in a proper album. She understood my explanation with warmth and humor.
She started talking about how happy she was with the kind welcome she received from people everywhere in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia where she was performing Haj last year. Then I got the chance to hand her the albums I prepared, they had the picture of "The Princess Ferial Library" on the cover which she liked very much. The princess was amazed that even after all these years I was still able to come up with new pictures she had never seen before. "Daddy looked so handsome in this picture", well it had to pierce my ears when this ‘daddy” is HM the King of Egypt and Sudan, the man that has been so distanced in history that you think was around hundreds of years ago not just 60. The princess nodded at my remark and said that when she was in Jeddah, the Egyptian workers in her hotel were asking her how come she is an Egyptian princess where they never knew of Egyptian Royalty. "How can people have forgotten us so quickly?" she asked in disbelief..Time flew by so quickly, with history, life, and many things going through this intriguing and unique discussions.
On Sunday Nov. 29th I woke up to a phone call from HM King Fouad II’s secertary, it was bad news, the beloved princess has lost her battle with cancer that has been creeping inside her body since last August, a cold grip in my chest is all what I could feel. On Tuesday all were at The Refaie Mosque, the graceful humble friends from the family and from other places were patiently waiting for the arrival of the procession from the airport. Quietly she was taken inside and burried next to her two sisters princesses Fawzia and Fadia.
The moment was unbearable. As I was standing there I couldn’t help going through the pictures in my head once more. This time in view of her last presence. Distanced from the music, the laughter, the glamour and beauty, Egypt’s darling princess, welcomed by a 41 gun salute when she was born. She now laid to rest, finally united with her father whom she loved more than anything in this mortal world. Life is indeed quite cynical.
Her name was Ferial; honorifics always respected. Born a princess and died a princess no matter who says otherwise. As her name says, she was fair and royal; fair as in beautiful and as in just, beautiful as in shape and at heart. She left behind a legacy of dignity and love that will engrave our lives.
HRH Ferial; you have given your family, your friends and everyone who had the fortune of knowing you a glimpse of what ‘royalty’ means. My dear, my respected, my most certainly ever missed… Rest in peace for you have left us in this mortal world bettered by your values and ever thankful to your kind presence with us so briefly.
Ahmed S. Kamel