Early life and education
He was born as His Sultanic Highness Farouk bin Fuad, Hereditary Prince of Egypt and Sudan, on 11 February 1920 at Abdeen Palace, Cairo, the eldest child of Sultan Fuad I (later King Fuad I) and his second wife, Nazli Sabri. He was of 10/16 Circassian (bilineal), 3/16 Turkish (bilineal), 2/16 French (matrilineal) and 1/16 Albanian (patrilineal) descent. Farouk was always proud of his Albanian heritage and as king, he was protected by 30 Albanian bodyguards as he regarded Albanians as the only people he could trust with his life. Despite the Albanian origin of his house, Farouk in common with the other members of Egypt's Ottoman elite had more Circassian blood in him as Mohammad Ali the Great and his successors were fond of their Circassian slave girls, which were one of the most prized possessions of an Ottoman official. Farouk's first languages were Turkish and French (the languages of the Egyptian elite), and he always thought of himself as an Egyptian rather than as an Arab, having no interest in Arab nationalism except as as a way of increasing Egypt's power in the Middle East. Until the 1952 revolution, Egypt was dominated by an elite made up of interrelated families of Turkish, Circassian and Albanian origin known to historians as the Turco-Circassian elite who owned most of the land, upon which the fellahen (Egyptian peasants) toiled upon as tenet farmers. The Turco-Circassian aristocracy made up less than 1% of the population, but owned 3/4 of all the farmland in Egypt. Egypt under the rule of the Mohammad Ali dynasty was characterized by some of the starkest income disparities in the world as the rich in Egypt tended to be extremely rich while the poor tended to be extremely poor.
In addition to his sisters, Fawzia, Faiza, Faika and Fathia, he had two half-siblings from his father's previous marriage to Princess Shwikar Khanum Effendi. King Fuad kept tight control over his only son when he was growing up and Farouk was only allowed to see his mother once every day for an hour. Fuad, who did not speak Arabic, insisted that the crown prince learn Arabic so he could talk to his subjects. Farouk become fluent in classical Arabic, the language of the Koran, and he always gave his speeches in classical Arabic. As a child Farouk showed a facility for languages, learning Arabic, English, French and Italian, which were the only subjects he excelled in. The more honest of Farouk's tutors often wrote comments on his childhood essays such as "Improve your bad handwriting and pay attention to the cleanliness of your notebook" and "It is regrettable that you not know the history of your ancestors". The more sycophantic of his tutors wrote comments like "Excellent. A brilliant future awaits you in the world of literature" on an essay that began with the sentence "My father had a lot of ministers and I have a cat". Farouk was known for his love of practical jokes, a trait that continued on as an adult, for instance he liked to free the quail that the game keepers had captured on the grounds of the Montaza Palace and he once used an air gun to shoot out the windows at the Koubbeh Palace. When Queen Marie of Romania visited the Koubbeh Palace to see Queen Nazli, Farouk asked her if she wanted to see his two horses; when she answered in the positive, Farouk had the horses brought into the royal harem, which greatly displeased the two queens as the animals defecated all over the floor.
Farouk's closest friend when growing up and later as an adult was the Italian electrician at the Abdeen Palace, Antonio Pulli, who became one of Egypt's most powerful men during his reign. The influence of Farouk's father, the dominating and misogynistic King Fuad, together with the influence of his surrogate father Pulli (who viewed women only as sex objects), had a major impact on Farouk's attitudes towards the opposite sex. As a teenager, Farouk's favorite place was the garage at the Abdeen Palace where Pulli and the other Italian servants would relate to Farouk their "whore stories". An attempt to enlist Farouk at Eton was thwarted when he failed the entrance exams. Before his father's death, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, England. The Italophile Fuad wanted to have Farouk educated at the Turin Military Academy, but the British High Commissioner Sir Miles Lampson vetoed this choice as growing Italian claims for the entire Mediterranean to be Mare Nostum ("Our Sea") made it unacceptable for the Crown Prince to be educated in Italy.
In October 1935, Farouk left Egypt to settle at Kenry House in the countryside of Surrey to attend the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as an extramural student. Farouk attended classes occasionally at "the Shop", as the academy was known, to prepare himself for the entrance exam. Farouk stayed at Kenry House and twice a week was driven in a Rolls-Royce to the Royal Military Academy to attend classes, but still failed the entrance exam. One of Farouk's tutors, General Aziz Ali al-Misri, complained to King Fuad that the principle problem with Farouk as a student was he never studied and expected the answers to be given to him when he wrote his exam. Instead of studying, Farouk spent his time in London where he went shopping, attended football matches with the Prince of Wales, and visited restaurants and brothels. Farouk's other tutor, the famous desert explorer, Olympic athlete and poet Ahmed Hassanein reported to King Fuad that Farouk was studying hard, but the inability of the crown prince to pass entrance exams supports General al-Misri's reports. When King George V died, Farouk represented Egypt at his funeral in Westminster Abbey.
On 29 April 1936, King Fuad died of a heart-attack and Farouk left England to return to Egypt as king. Farouk's first act as king was to visit Buckingham Palace to accept the condolences of King Edward VIII, one of the few Englishmen whom Farouk liked, and then he went to Victoria station to take a train to Dover and was seen off by the Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden. At Dover, Farouk boarded a French ship, the Côte d'Azur, which took him to Calais. After a stop in Paris to shop and visit the Elysee Palace, Farouk took the train to Marseilles, where he boarded an ocean liner, the Viceroy of India to take him to Alexandria, where he landed on 6 May 1936. Upon landing in Alexandria, Farouk was greeted by huge crowds who shouted "Long live the king of the Nile!" and "Long live the king of Egypt and the Sudan!". In 1936, Farouk was known by his subjects as al malik al mahbub ("the beloved king"). Besides inheriting the throne, Farouk also received all of the land that his father had acquired, which amounted to one seventh of all the arable land in Egypt. As the Nile river valley has some of the most fertile and productive farmland in the entire world, this was a considerable asset. Fuad left Farouk a fortune worth about $100 million U.S dollars plus 75,000 acres of land in the Nile river valley, five palaces, 200 cars and 2 yachts.