Here’s Everything you need to know about Eugenie de Montijo, The Woman Behind “Layeli Eugenie” TV Series
By Nada Hamouda
All throughout history, there has been a lot of influential women that caught our attention. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you never managed to read a book, you wouldn’t know about the French Queen, Marie-Antoinette, and her execution after the French Revolution, or Princess Diana, the queen that we mourn for until this day.
However, there are a lot of female icons, that helped shape the world we live in, that go unnoticed but luckily one TV series this Ramadan made us dig a bit deeper to know more about one of the most influential women of her age, Eugenie de Montijo.
This Ramadan’s TV series “Layali Eugenie” features Egypt’s life in the 1940s in Eugenie Street. It’s a classy reminder that once upon a time there was a historical Empress of France and her name was Eugenie de Montijo. Empress Eugenie adored Egypt and its people. Thus, Khedive Ismail named one of Port Said popular streets after her.
Here are some facts about Empress Eugenie of France:
- She was born with the name of Doña María Eugenia Ignacia in May 1826, in Spain. However, she left for Paris where she attended the Convent of the Sacré Coeur. Then, she moved to the UK for a boarding school to learn English.
- The life of a traveler gave her the opportunity to be more than a beautiful woman. Eugenie was an intelligent and attractive figure. She became beloved by the French people after her marriage to Emperor Napoleon III in 1853.
- She traveled extensively, representing the Emperor, including the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Eugenie was the guest of honour in the festival.
- Historians believe that the French empress owned the heart of Khedive Ismail. They claim she was his secret love when he was studying in France but her family rejected the relationship. “My Eyes will forever fancy looking at you,” Khedive Ismail told her during the Suez Canal ceremony.
- During her visit for the Suez Canal festival, a main street in Port Said city was named after her. Though the name has officially been changed to “Safiyah Zaghloul,” people still refer to it as “Eugenie Street”.
- In a time when feminism wasn’t even an issue, Eugenie managed to play a feminist role. She was pushing for female education and advocating the recognition of women’s achievements in literature, arts, and education.
- She managed to politically close the relationship between England and France after her close friendship with Queen Victoria.
- After the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, the French people accused her of spying against France. Consequently, they rebelled against her. So, she fled to England with her husband and son.
- Empress Eugenie died aged 94 in July 1920 while visiting relatives in Madrid. She is buried in Hampshire, UK along with her husband and her only son.