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Following is a wartime September 1917 article which appeared in the Budapest daily AZ EST. It deals with Egypt's exiled Khedive Abbas Hilmi II based on a sensationalized account by a former khedivial officer, the Hungarian Kelemen A'rvay (or Clement d'Arvay). Reading through it one realizes it reeks of the "chercher la femme syndrome. Without doubt the heretofore trusted courtier saw in Abbas Hilmi's latest paramour a threat to the khedive's integrity and sanity.

In a last ditch attempt to discredit the ex-khedive's mistress, the disillusioned Arvay described her as a demon and a spy. "It was she who was responsible for Abbas Hilmi's volte face with the Central Powers," claims the disparaged Avray.

As it turned out Arvay's scheme backfired dismally. A year later, from his quarters at the Grand Hotel Dolder in Zurich, Abbas Himi derides and belittles Arvay describing him in a letter to the Austrian envoy in Berne as a "petit ancien fonctionnaire," or minion. Whereas in actual fact, Arvay had been more than just a court underling for we find him listed in the 1914 court register as a bona fide member of the Maison Militaire de S. A. Le Khedive with the rank of major.

The above letter clearly evidences how the once close relationship between khedive and former courtier had reached a point of no return. Whereas yesteryear's classmate, confidant and aide-de camp had become the khedive's latest foe, the "demon" would remain Abbas Hilmi's mistress for a few more years.

Abbas Hilmi


From AZ EST's correspondent in Geneva - Sunday, 17 September 1917 -- The former Egyptian khedive is a forgotten man in the diplomacy of the Central Powers. For the time being he wanders between Geneva and Zurich. Great Britain does not want to hear about the former viceroy.

Lately, one of the khedive’s most trusted men left his service. For years the khedive's aide-de-camp, the Hungarian major, Kelemen Arvay, told me the following about his employer's recent past.

We studied law together, in one class in the Teresianum. Our prefects were Hussavek and Seidler, the present day ministers. The alphabetical catalogue (of the students) started like this: "Abbas, Arvay, Beniczey…"

Our acquaintance is from the Teresianum, the khedive liked me very much and from that time onwards honored me with his trust.

One day, Abbas got a cable in which he was informed about the death of his father, Tewfik Pasha, and he was recalled on an urgent basis to take over the throne. He exclaimed in front of me: "Tetzt habeich aufgehort jung zu sein."

He asked me to travel with him because he needed a friend. I could not go because I was already a 2nd lieutenant and the minister of war did not give permits for retirement from the army. The prince then travelled and sent me a cable from Trieste with his greetings. After a long time he cabled me from Egypt to become his aide-de camp. Thereon I obtained permission to enter his service.

In the first years of the khedive's rule Lord Cromer was the British proconsul. It was Cromer who pushed the khedive towards hating the British, because he wanted to handle the young ruler as if he were a child. The khedive did not endure this and the continuous quarrels between them made the contacts between them impossible.

The British government recalled Cromer replacing him with Sir Eldon Gorst with whom the khedive established good relations. Following Gorst's death Kitchener became the representative of Great Britain. From that moment there was no peace in the viceroy's palace.

Three or four times each week the British commander tried in vain to force the khedive into accepting various reforms. But the khedive felt that the very existence of Egypt was at stake and therefore refused with great firmness Kitchener's assertive attempts.

The situation remained so until the war. The war itself did not find any of our actors in Egypt. Kitchener was in London on holiday, the khedive was in Constantinople and Avray was on a mission in Asia Minor.


Is it is well known that on 24 June 1914 (coinciding with the first day or Ramadan), an Egyptian student attempted to assassinate the khedive as he was driven back from a visit with Grand Vizier Saiid Halim Pasha. The assassin shot five times from his revolver seriously injuring Abbas Hilmi.

Later, the khedive told me the government of the Young Turks wanted him killed, but I convinced him of the contrary. Enver Pasha had been the first who rushed to the scene covering the unconscious khedive with his own jacket, transporting him on his own yacht to the latter's palace. It was quite obvious that the failed plot was the work of the British. He told me also that because it was Ramadan, he did not want to drink water till the evening in spite of the fact that he had a fever and he was very thirsty. Later he told me, "Look Arvay, all this happened because you were away!"


I cannot emphasize enough to what extent the khedive's policy was influenced by Hungarian and Austrian interests. His majesty liked us and through my good offices he continuously supported our countrymen. The court doctor, the chemist and even the palace baker were Austrian citizens along with several other Hungarian or Austrian engineers. Several others retained administrative jobs in the palace or in the estates of the khedive. Through my good offices the khedive made contact with (Istvan) Bacho and employed him as his court conductor. He also gave aid to our countrymen who fell into poverty. He often remarked to me, "Arvay! You are an employment agency for the Hungarian and Austrians!"

If you ask me now, "What happened so that everything changed against us?" The answer to this puzzle is the woman... the demon who brought the khedive to the brink of ruin and corruption!


In the summer of 1913 we were in Paris. In his own country the khedive never drinks wine and very seldom has a good time. His only amusement is work. But in Paris, on an exceptional basis, he dropped by Maxim’s. It was there that he met Miss Georgette Mesny who distributed her favours against twenty francs under the name of Andrée de Lusange, which sounds better. The chance acquaintance eventually led to the short, lean, not picturesque, but heavily painted lady (who was 22 that time), to travel to Egypt with the khedive on board the M/S Helwan.

Andrée de Lusange, together with her lady companion, Miss Milan, settled in an elegant Cairo Hotel. From there she started her devastating actions. Her first job was to send anonymous letters in which she told the khedive I wanted to kill him. She knew that I did my utmost to convince the khedive to avoid scandal. She also knew I suspected her to be a spy for the French. Later it became known she was in fact a spy and continues to be one to this day.

The scandal happened. It was unavoidable. The [Hungarian] wife of the khedive, Djavidan Hanim (Countess May Torok) immediately left the palace and later left Egypt altogether. Meanwhile, the first wife of the khedive, Princess Iqbal Hanim, the mother of his children, moved to Constantinople.


The uneducated but extremely foxy woman came to the palace every night in secret. From the beginning she tried to influence the ruler. When I cautioned the khedive, he usually refused to accept my criticism with these words: "You are mistaken. I enjoy myself with her, but there are no political discussions between us."

I was not mistaken. After the outbreak of the war her real hatred towards us was openly revealed. In Constantinople the khedive had kicked out the British envoy from his palace when the latter ordered him to travel immediately to Italy. At the time (the khedive) was fully on our side. But later the situation changed.

The khedive came to Vienna and brought Miss Mesny (de Lusange) along. They stayed at the hotel Imperial. This was December 1914. On one occasion, when I was sitting in the hall, I heard terrible shouting from the first floor. "I've had enough of this dirty boche!" a woman's voice shouted. Recognizing the voice as that of de Lusange I rushed up and shouted at her "Whom do you mean by this?"

She saw that I was very upset and stated in alarm that she did not want to insult me; that she was actually shouting at the khedive. I have to note here that she was very rude to the khedive. He seemed frightened, partly because he lost his hold over her but mainly because all the khedive's papers, all of his writings and all of his money were already in her clutch. He was completely at her mercy.


The woman convinced the khedive to leave Vienna. As a result he told everyone he would travel to Carlsbad. He actually traveled there but only for 24 hours. When his family doctor tried to join him there he found the bird had flown. In secret, the khedive had returned to Vienna where he stayed 12 hours taking a walk around the Prater before leaving for Switzerland.

In the meantime I was in Constantinople. At the embassy I was informed that I could see the khedive once again in Lucerne. I learnt that the woman had persuaded the khedive to flee Vienna by convincing him that detectives were after him.

In Switzerland I tried several times to convince the khedive to return to Vienna. On such occasions he promised to do so. He even said to me that he would pack his belongings and travel the next day. But on the next day, under the influence of the woman, he negated what he had promised the previous evening.


The situation started to be untenable for me. What made my position very difficult was that the khedive's policy became noticeably undecided. If his true sentiments were still with Hungary and Austria, the dangerous woman made him believe that since he would not regain his throne, it would be much better so seek contacts with the Entente (France and Great Britian) and to settle in France together with his fortune.

Since, however, Great Britain refused to have any contacts with him, the khedive once again tried to turn to the Central Powers. Supposedly he wanted to travel to Constantinople to visit his mother. Because of Andrée de Lusange's influence, it is impossible to predict whether or no he will go there.

It seems improbable for the khedive to regain his willpower. For the time being, his resolve, his politics and his fortune are completely at the mercy of the woman from Maxim's--especially his fortune. The khedive was able to save for himself twelve million from his private wealth. This is kept by the woman in the form of bonds. For instance, if you ask how does Andrée de Lusange abuse the wealth of the khedive? I can say the following: Just recently she was eager to get a ring costing 47,000 francs. She spoke about it to the khedive and on the next day they called for the jeweler from Paris.


On the other hand, the khedive's two sons, Princes Abdel Moneim and Abdel Kader are living in lodgings leased by the month in Fribourg where they continue their university studies. They are honest, simple and diligent youths who feel unhappy because of the behaviour of their father.

The khedive only pays for their maintenance and sends them very limited pocket money. If they need clothing they write to their father in vain. Usually it is Andrée de Lusange who opens their letters. It is she who relays them to the khedive making the following remarks: "Why so much clothing and shoes? Even a few is more than sufficient for students."

Note: The above was related to me by Major Kelemen Arvay during a Sunday afternoon. He was in full knowledge of the fact that I will inform AZ EST readers of this extraordinary and interesting story.

Abbas Hilmi letter

articles posted on were published in the following books by Samir W Raafat: THE EGYPTIAN BOURSE, Zeitouna, Cairo -- CAIRO THE GLORY YEARS, Harpocrates, Alexandria -- HISTORY & SOCIETY IN A CAIRO SUBURB; MAADI 1904-1962, Palm Press, Cairo -- PRIVILEGED FOR THREE CENTURIES, printed digitally and bound by Elias Printing, Egypt

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