|Genevieve Arnault in 1962.
On 22 June 1937, Genevieve Arnault was born at Paris as the only child of Henri Arnault (1902-?), a chemist, and his wife Leonie Ness (1915-1990), an actress turned businesswoman. The family did not fare particularly well during World War II. When the Germans overtook France, Mr Arnault was eventually arrested by the Nazis because he had a gun permit. After this, young Genevieve was imprisoned at Auschwitz for a period. Genevieve’s mother joined the French Resistance. When the war ended, her parents (both of whom survived) sent their daughter to a Swiss educational institution whose aim was to help young persons who had experienced severe traumatised during the conflict.
Based on news reports, Genevieve Arnault first met King Faisal II of Iraq (b.Baghdad 2 May 1935), two years her senior, in 1948 at Switzerland. By now living in Paris again, Genevieve was vacationing in the country. Faisal was enjoying a break from his studies at the Harrow School in London by taking advantage of the Swiss Alps to indulge in his fondness for skiing. The thirteen year-old Iraqi king and the ten year-old French girl met at a party. Whether it was love at first sight is impossible to know, but the bond between the two children lasted for the rest of their lives.
|King Faisal II of Iraq in 1944.
In 1948, Mr. and Mrs. Arnault were living at 1 rue Deleau, Neuilly-sur-Seine. Henry Arnault was a chemical engineer, and Lony Arnault worked as an administrator for the French Red Cross. Having attended the Louvre in 1937, Lony later became an architect and engineer who went on to forge a successful career in France, Iraq, and the United States. The Arnaults frequently traveled to America for business purposes, and they often brought their daughter along for the journey. Records exist of Genevieve traveling from France to New York in both 1948 and 1949. In Autumn 1952, the seventeen year-old King Faisal II of Iraq made a trip to the United States, where he met with President Harry Truman and Hollywood actors. It was also during this voyage that the king became reacquainted with Mademoiselle Arnault at a garden party in Greenwich, Connecticut. Feelings of a more romantic nature were kindled between the pair during this encounter.
|Mrs. Lony Arnault greeting U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Henry Cabot Lodge with Iraqi diplomat Abdulkarim Al-Gailani in the background, 1957.
In 1956, Lony Arnault and Genevieve moved to Baghdad. They retained their residence on East 70th Street, New York City. Mrs. Arnault had been given permission by King Faisal II to direct the construction of a government housing project in his capital. During an interview in January 1957, Lony Arnault remarked: “It is natural that youth should prevail in a country that has a 21 year-old king.” Questioned about an existing romance between her daughter and the Iraqi monarch, Mrs. Arnault stated: “The king and my daughter played tennis and rode horseback together before his coronation in 1953. Now, their meetings are rarer; he’s pretty busy.” Despite Mrs. Arnault’s claims to the reporter, it is difficult to deny that there was in fact a close relationship blossoming between King Faisal and Genevieve Arnault.
|King Faisal II of Iraq and Genevieve Arnault.
Per subsequent press reports, shortly before midnight on 22 June 1957, King Faisal II of Iraq and Mlle. Genevieve Arnault were married in a Muslim ceremony at Baghdad. The bride had turned twenty on the day of her wedding, which was not announced to the public. They honeymooned at a royal residence in Iraq. Genevieve would recall: “I liked best those private moments when he would forget he was the king.” The couple were not to enjoy a fairy-tale ending. On 14 July 1958, Iraqi revolutionaries assassinated a fair number of the members of the country’s royal family at the Rihab Palace: King Faisal II, his uncle Crown Prince ‘Abd al-Ilah (1913-1958), his great-aunt Princess Nafeesa (1886-1958), his aunt Princess Abadiya (1907-1958), and several servants were among the individuals who were gunned down in the courtyard of the royal palace. On 15 April 1965, the United States District Court S. D. New York wrote the following in its ruling on the case Republic of Iraq v. First National City Bank:
On April 23, 1964, the Surrogate’s Court entered an intermediate decree on the final accounting of defendant as administrator. Citation in this proceeding had been served upon plaintiff, but plaintiff failed to appear or participate in it. This intermediate decree determined that Al Malika Genevieve Al Iraq (also known as Genevieve Arnault), was duly married to King Faisal II on June 22, 1957, and was his lawful surviving spouse, that Prince Zeid Ibn Hussein, the great-uncle of King Faisal II, was his nearest living male heir, and that pursuant to a certain stipulation of settlement, the net estate of King Faisal II should be distributed, two-thirds to Al Malika Genevieve Al Iraq, and one-third to Prince Zeid.
On December 14, 1964, the Surrogate’s Court entered its final decree in the accounting proceeding. It charged defendant as administrator with $134,950.65 in the first instance, and credited it with the payment of administrative expenses and various miscellaneous items aggregating $18,249.08, leaving a balance on hand of $116,701.57. The decree settled and allowed the administrator’s account and directed the administrator to pay various additional fees and commissions and to distribute the final net balance, amounting to $110,562.47 to Al Malika Genevieve Al Iraq and Prince Zeid Ibn Hussein, $73,708.31 to the former, and $36,854.16 to the latter. Defendant has not as yet made this distribution.
|Genevieve al-Malika al-Iraq.
On 7 May 1971, Genevieve Arnault married Walter H. Jackson at Galveston, Texas. The couple had two sons and subsequently divorced.
|Genevieve Arnault Al-Iraq Jackson (1937-2010)
In 1984, Genevieve moved to Port Jervis, New York. She taught herself how to paint and took classes at the Arts Student League in Manhattan. Two days before her seventy-third birthday, she died at Port Jervis on 20 June 2010 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Milford gathering recalls former queen of Iraq (briefly) who later graced the area
Republic of Iraq v. First National City Bank