Reference: KM-104. Denomination: 50 Fils Mint Date: 1938 (AH 1357) Condition: Minor deposits, scattered bag-marks and scratches in obverse, otherwise a nice XF-AU! Material: Silver (.500) Diameter: 27mm Weight: 9gm
Ghazi bin Faisal (Arabic: غازي ابن فيصل Ġāzī bin Fayṣal) (2 May 1912 – 4 April 1939) was the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq from 1933 to 1939 having been briefly Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Syria in 1920. He was born in Mecca, the only son of Faisal I, the first King of Iraq.
Ghazi was the only son of Faisal (later to become King Faisal I of Iraq) and Huzaima bint Nasser. In his childhood Ghazi was left with his grandfather, Hussein bin Ali, the Hashemite Grand Sharif of Mecca and head of the royal house of Hashim, while his father was occupied with travel and in military campaigns against the Ottomans. The Hashemites had ruled the Hijaz within the Ottoman Empire before rebelling with British assistance in the later stages of World War I. He attended Harrow School.
Unlike his worldly father, Ghazi grew up a shy and inexperienced young man. Following the defeat of his grandfather’s army by Saudi forces in 1924, he was forced to leave the Hijaz with the rest of the Hashemites. They travelled to Transjordan where Ghazi’s uncle Abdullah was King. In the same year, Ghazi joined his father in Baghdad and was appointed as crown prince and heir to the Kingdom of Iraq. His father had been crowned following a national referendum in 1921.
As a 16-year-old schoolboy, he met the traveller-adventurer Richard Halliburton and his pilot Moye Stephens during their round-the-world flight (shortly after Charles Lindbergh’s celebrated transatlantic flight). Ghazi was taken for his first flight by Halliburton and Stephens in a biplane named the ‘Flying Carpet’. They flew down to see the ruins of Ancient Babylon and other historical sites and flew low over the prince’s own school so that his schoolmates could see him in the biplane. An account of young prince Ghazi’s experience flying over his country can be found in Richard Halliburton’s The Flying Carpet.
Ghazi came to Simele to award ‘victorious’ colours to the military and tribal leaders who, on 11 August 1933, participated in the Simele massacre of Assyrians and the looting of their homes.
I n 8 September 1933, King Faisal I died, and Ghazi was crowned as King Ghazi I. On the same day, Ghazi was appointed Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Iraqi Navy, Field Marshal of the Royal Iraq Army, and Marshal of the Royal Iraqi Air Force. A staunch pan-Arab nationalist, opposed to British interests in his country, Ghazi’s reign was characterized by tensions between civilians and the army, which sought control of the government. He supported General Bakr Sidqi in his coup, which replaced the civilian government with a military one. This was the first coup d'état to take place in the modern Arab world. He was rumoured to harbour sympathies for Nazi Germany and also put forth a claim for Kuwait to be annexed to Iraq. For this purpose he had his own radio station in al-Zuhoor royal palace in which he promoted that claim and other radical views.
Ghazi died in 1939 in an accident involving a sports car that he was driving. According to the scholars Ma’ruf al-Rusafi and Safa Khulusi, a common view by many Iraqis at the time was that he was killed on the orders of Nuri al-Said, because of his plans for unification of Iraq with Kuwait.
Faisal, Ghazi’s only son, succeeded him as King Faisal II. Because Faisal was underage, Prince Abdul Ilah served as regent until 1953.