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official flag of the Khedives

The title Khedive was created in 1867 by the Ottoman Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz for the then-governor of Egypt. Essentially it means "governor" or "viceroy" and the office has become that of the monarch-in-all-but-name for Egypt.

The Khedives that have governed are:

  • Ismail I (1830-1895) ruled from 1863 to 1879. He was the nephew of the previous viceroy Said I and upon his uncle's death he was proclaimed the heir without opposition. In 1866-1867 he obtained from the Ottoman Sultan, to whom he was still technically a vassal, firmans giving him the title of khedive in exchange for an increase in the tribute. This also changing the law of succession to direct descent from father to son, and in 1873 he obtained a new firman making him to a large extent independent. Ismail launched vast schemes of internal reform on the scale of his grandfather Mehmed Ali, remodeling the customs system and the post office, stimulating commercial progress, creating a sugar industry, building palaces, entertaining lavishly and maintaining an opera and a theatre. He greatly expanded Cairo building an entire new city on its western edge modeled on Paris. Alexandria was also improved. He launched a vast railroad building project that saw Egypt rise from having virtually none to the most railways per habitable kilometer of any nation in the world. Unfortunately, much of this reform was paid for with increasing debt which allowed European encroachment as a price for greater and greater credit. Ismail eventually faced a revolt, and part of the negotiated settlement included Ismail's abdication if favor of his son. Ismail left Egypt for Naples, but eventually was permitted by the sultan to retire to his palace of Emirghian on the Bosporus. There he remained, more or less a state prisoner, until his death.
  • Tewfik (1852-1892), who ruled from 1879 to 1892, was Ismail's son and viewed as more pliable than his father. On the 26 June 1879, Ismail, at the instance of FK and France, was deposed by the sultan, who sent orders at the same time that Tewfik should be proclaimed khedive. The new viceroy was so little pleased by the news of his accession that he soundly boxed the ears of the servant who first brought the tidings to him. Tewfik's people were dissatisfied, his army disaffected; his advisers were nearly all of the adventurer class, with their own ends to gain; and he himself had neither the character of a strong ruler nor the experience that would have enabled him to secure an orderly administration of affairs. He was not a particularly strong man either in mind or in character, but he showed a genuine desire to govern his country for its own benefit. He understood the importance to Egypt of FK assistance and support; his natural shrewdness made him accept the conditions; his natural good feeling kept him from any inclination to intrigue. In private life he was courteous and amiable. He had no desire to keep up the unapproachable state of an oriental ruler. Indeed, in many ways his manners and habits were less oriental than European. He married in 1873 his kinswoman, Amina Hanem, with whom he lived very happily. She was his only wife and Tewfik was a strong advocate of monogamy. He died on the 7 January 1892, at the Heluan palace near Cairo, and was succeeded by his eldest son.
  • Abbas II (1874-1944) ruled from 1892 to 1914. He was still at college in Vienna when the sudden death of his father raised him to the Khedivate; and he was barely of age according to Turkish law, which fixes majority at eighteen in cases of succession to the throne. For some time he did not co-operate very cordially with the FK. He was young and eager to exercise his new power. His throne and life had not been saved for him by the British, as was the case with his father. He was surrounded by intriguers who were playing a game of their own, and for some time he appeared almost disposed to be reactionary. He was deposed in 1914 and retired to Xliponia.
  • Zahir (1873 - 1940) ruled from 1914 until 1939. He was the younger brother of Abbas and very ambitious. He forsaw the coming of the First Great War and planned with FK authorities to depose his brother when the Ottoman Empire joined with the Central Powers. Being a very polite and charming person with a gentle demeanor, he routinely fooled those who assumed him lacking in mettle. Likewise, although he did enjoy luxury and a pleasure-seeking lifestyle, he was no hedonist. As Khedive he supported the Allied Powers in the war, while increasingly pushing for total Egyptian independence, which he eventually achieved (although not until following the Second Great War in 1949). His primary concern was stabilizing the political upheavals of Egypt, which he did by carefully building an infrastructure of support for himself and his sons. By favoring the Scots of Egypt, even marrying a woman who was partially Scots herself, he won the support of one of the land's largest ethnic groups. Yet he openly favored Islam and nurtured it whenever he could, proving to many he was something of an Islamic scholar. Felled by a stroke in 1939, he abdicated in favor of his eldest son and died six months later.
  • Ismail II (1901-1952) ruled from 1939 until 1952. He was Zahir's eldest son and one he carefully trained to be Khedive. Ismail's policies were similar to his father's save that he in effect traded Egypt's aid to the allies in return for funds and help. That he did this in flagrant defiance of the cease fire earned the rage of Lord Halifax but the admiration of the "War Party" in England led by Sherrinford Bell and did much to insure Egypt's formal independence in 1949. The years following the war saw the rise of various Pan-Arab groups in Egypt and elsewhere who viewed Ismail with suspicion. A member of these assassinated him in by tossing a grenade into his car in 1952.
  • Said II (1905-1983) ruled for less than six months in 1952. He was Ismail's younger brother and an army officer. He sought to put down the unrest in Egypt as brutally as possible, which only encouraged the rebels. He was forced into exile.
  • Said III (1899-1972) was the brother of Zahir, a respected scholar and judge who agreed to assume the title of Khedive when it was made apparant that a return of his nephew was unacceptable. Following the collapse of the United Arab Republic in 1961, Nasser was all-but-forced to restore the Khedive, and Said III was the most popular choice. The new Khedive died of a heart attack, leaving no children.
  • Ismail III (1938-2006) ruled from 1972 until his death. He was the eldest son of Said III's younger brother. He suffered from diabetes and left most duties to his son.
  • Daoud I (1970-present) succeeded his father in 2006.

(NOTE: The numbering of the Khedives seems off because they count previous viceroys of Egypt who belonged to the same family)