Crowned as an infant, Fouad 2 now mourns the past in Switzerland; caught in a new nostalgia for the monarchy

Ahmed Fouad II leads a quiet, secluded life in the Swiss countryside, surrounded by mementos of his ancestors—oil paintings, busts and old black-and-white photographs. He reads history books, putters in his garden and ruminates about the past. One of his favorite possessions is a picture of his father, King Farouk of Egypt, saluting the cheering crowds at his 1937 coronation.

The 58-year-old Fouad—as he prefers to be called—is the last King of Egypt. The honor was conferred on him when he was six months old by his father as one of his final acts before abdicating in July 1952.

Egypt’s government doesn’t recognize the title, or Fouad’s claim to it. But within Egypt, new signs of longing for a monarchy many Egyptians never knew are emerging. “In the past, we were more or less pariahs,” Fouad says. “They used to say so much that was bad about my family. Now it has completely changed.”

On the 58th anniversary of the revolution that brought down King Farouk, Egyptians are looking at the government that replaced him with a more jaundiced eye. Despite economic growth, about 40% of Egypt survives on $2 or less a day, according to the World Bank. The recent killing of a 28-year-old man by police in Alexandria has been a reminder of the power security forces wield.

Elections are set for next year, but in light of President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year tenure, there is a sense that littl…

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