Former Queen Farida of Egypt, who was the first wife of the late King Farouk, died Sunday at a Cairo hospital. She was 67.
Farida was hospitalized last month, suffering from leukemia, pneumonia and hepatitis. On Oct. 2, she was placed in intensive care, where she lapsed into a coma.
Born Safinaz Zulfikar in 1921, Farida, which means “singular” in Arabic, married Farouk at the age of 17, two years after his rise to the throne. Their stormy marriage produced three daughters--Feryal, Fawzia and Fadia--but was dissolved in 1948, mainly because she did not give Farouk a male heir to the throne.
In 1951, Farouk married Nariman Sadek, who gave birth to a boy. Farouk was overthrown by a junta of officers the following year and forced to seek exile in Italy.
Farida stayed in Egypt until 1963 when she left for Europe. She studied art in Paris, but she was frustrated by being a commoner there.
“It was not so much doing my own shopping, cooking my own food and cleaning my tiny house that mattered,” she once said. “If I had had enough money it could have been different. I was totally confused. . . . In the West and in Europe, especially, a woman alone is defenseless.”
She returned to Egypt in the mid-1970s, living alone in a small apartment and continuing her artistic career. The late President Anwar Sadat ordered an extraordinary pension for her.
President Hosni Mubarak, on learning of her illness, ordered her treated at state expense.