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Nicholas IV
The former Nicholas IV in 2018
King of Lebanon
Reign5 May 1937 – 12 June 1977
PredecessorNicholas III
SuccessorMonarchy abolished
Rachid Karami as Acting President
RegentPrince Maximilian of Lebanon (1937–1954)
Prime Ministers
Born (1933-10-12) 12 October 1933 (age 88)
Baabda, Mount Lebanon Governorate, Lebanon
  • Princess Nadine
  • Prince Nicholas, Duke of Tripoli
  • Prince Constantine
FatherNicholas III of Lebanon
MotherBeatriz of Spain
ReligionRoman Catholic
Military career
Allegiance Kingdom of Lebanon

Nicholas IV (French: Nicolas IV, Arabic: نقولا الرابع; born 12 October 1933) is the former King of Lebanon, who reigned for just over 40 years from 5 May 1937 until his deposition on 12 June 1977. The only son of King Nicholas III of Lebanon and his wife Beatriz of Spain, Nicholas assumed the throne at the age of four following the early death of his father. He was formally inaugurated as King on his twenty-first birthday on 12 October 1954, prior to which the kingdom was under the regency of his uncle Prince Maximilian during his legal minority.

Nicholas's adult reign saw Lebanon gain its independence, after 95 years of French rule, in little a over a year after his enthronement. His reign was largely characterized by economic prosperity and relative political stability, albeit punctuated by initially sporadic episodes of tensions. Lebanon's well-developed financial sector, openness to tourism, ability to maintain friendly relationships with key regional powers, and its status as host to several regional and international organizations earned it the moniker "Switzerland of the Middle East".[1][2] Particularly following the first oil shock in the early 1970s, Lebanon's reputation as a financial safe haven made it a leading destination for petrodollars, and Beirut the undisputed financial center of the Middle East. Investment in real estate and tourism boomed, and the nation's profile was boosted by the hosting of the 1972 Winter Olympics in Beirut.

In the domestic realm, however, the post-independence years of Nicholas' reign where marked above all by the continued failure to develop a durable political settlement to replace the Christian near-total political monopoly that characterized the Lebanese government, military, and economy. The political situation deteriorated rapidly starting in the mid-1970s, and matters reached a head in 1977, with a surge in inter-communal violence and a general strike making the established order, and Nicholas's position, untenable, and on 12 June 1977 he declared that he would "suspend the exercise of his constitutional functions" and leave the country. Although he never formally abdicated, minutes after his departure, the Lebanese National Movement, a front of leftist, pan-Arabist and Syrian nationalist groups, declared the formation of the Lebanese Arab Republic, bringing an end to 116 years of monarchical rule.

The deposed Nicholas settled in France, dividing his time between Paris and his wife's estates in the Bourbonnais. Meanwhile, events in Lebanon quickly degenerated into a bloody civil war that would last until 1990. Although able to return to Lebanon in 1993, political instability and the opposition of the Syrian occupation forces prevented him from returning again until the 2005 Cedar Revolution, which he supported. In exile, Nicholas has been a notable advocate and supporter of charitable and relief causes in Lebanon.

Early life and family (1933–1937)Edit

Prince Nicholas of Lebanon was born on the morning of 12 October 1933 at the Baabda Palace on the outskirts of Beirut, the first child of King Nicholas III of Lebanon and his wife, Beatriz of Spain. The latter was the daughter of the exiled King Alfonso XIII of Spain and his wife Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. The birth of a son and heir was greeted with enthusiasm and considerable relief, particularly on the part of the 37-year-old king himself. The monarch was little over a year into his second marriage, having been widowed without children following the sudden death of his first wife, Marie-Thérèse of Württemberg in 1928, just three weeks following his accession to the throne in March of that year.

He was baptised in the chapel of Qoreitem Royal Palace on 10 November 1933 by Archbishop Frediano Giannini, Vicar Apostolic of Aleppo. The choice to baptise the infant prince in the Latin Church reflected a continuation of the policy of "denominational neutrality" between Lebanon's various Christian sects adopted by Prince Nicholas I. Under this policy, the Royal House continued to associate with the Latin Church rather than convert, as was usual for other foreign princes who assumed royal thrones in the 19th century, to a local church (which in the case of Lebanon would have most likely been the Eastern Catholic Maronite Church, by far the largest single Christian denomination, but which comprised only a bare majority of the overall Christian population).

As his maternal grandmother Queen Victoria Eugenie, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was a known carrier of haemophilia—his uncles Alfonso, Prince of Asturias and Infante Gonzalo would both die from the disease—it was feared that the young prince would also inherit the disease. Indeed, the fear of passing down the disease was considered so significant that King Alfonso, while on the throne, had discouraged his daughters from seeking royal marriages. Those fears would ultimately prove unfounded, as neither Nicholas nor his siblings would ever show any signs of carrying the disease.

The persistence of Nicholas III, deeply conscious of his royal obligations to contract an equal marriage and sire an heir, as well as the considerable financial inducements offered by the Lebanese royal house (by then wealthy from lucrative investments in oil, banking, and trade) to their somewhat-straitened Spanish counterparts, had enabled him to overcome resistance to the match. It was the only occasion on which a Lebanese monarch had married a daughter of a sovereign, rather than a more minor member of a royal family, and Nicholas III treated his exiled in-laws with due generosity.

The Villa Mugar, home to Nicholas's grandparents, the former King and Queen of Spain, now part of Haigazian University.

King Alfonso and his family were frequent visitors to Beirut, renting and later buying a villa near the royal palace. It was there they joined a cosmopolitan world of exiled royals, including relatives near and remote, from across Europe and beyond, who were drawn by its sympathetic authorities, favorable climate, and low cost of living compared to the capitals of Europe. King Nicholas II, the prince's grandfather, had recognized the potential for exiled royals—particularly the prospect of their intermarrying with the Lebanese aristocracy—to enhance his country's status in the eyes of European elites. As such the country played host to royalty from countries as diverse as Russia, Austria-Hungary, Persia, India, Greece, Germany, Egypt, and the Ottoman Empire (including, for a time Caliph Abdulmejid II, who was the personal guest of his former nominal vassal Nicholas II, until the French authorities obliged him to leave, after which he spent several years living rent-free in a Paris residence owned by King Nicholas). One historian would later describe Beirut in this era as a "more genteel and less bohemian version of Tangiers", and a contemporary writer would say "it [was] barely possible to throw a rock in Beirut without hitting some prince".

Hence, the young prince grew up surrounded by a vast extended family and countless cousins, perhaps most notably the Infante Juan Carlos of Spain, who lived in Beirut permanently between 1942 and 1946, and who all his life would remain one of Nicholas's closest friends.

Early reign (1937-1954)Edit


Adult reign (1954–1974)Edit


Foreign policyEdit

Middle EastEdit

France and the WestEdit

Revolution and fall (1974–1977)Edit

the belated adoption of reforms failed to stem growing instability, which was exacerbated by the intervention of Syria and the PLO in Lebanese internal affairs. Eventually

since the foundation of the Principality-Protectorate of Mount Lebanon in 1861 Nicholas's own attitudes towards political reform were ambiguous; while outwardly supportive of a more inclusive socio-political order in many of his public comments, he took relatively few firm steps towards realizing such an order, while compromising neither his belief that Lebanon was a fundamentally Christian state by nature, nor his support for the ideology of Phoenicianism, which held Lebanese people and culture to be separate from the Arab world. This inability to realize a much hoped-for political opening progressively alienated much of the Sunni and Shia Muslim population of Lebanon, and to a lesser extent Druzes.

with the hope of enabling the emergence a "lasting political order"

Phoenicianism, which held Lebanese people and culture to be separate from the Arab world, both of which served to largely alienate the Muslim and Druze populations.


Attempts to negotiate the monarchy's restoration at the war's end proved unsuccessful, despite sizeable, if not decisive, support within Lebanon, and amongst certain national leaders in the region and beyond, including Kings Hussein of Jordan and Hassan II of Morocco, Saudi Foreign Minister, and, to a limited extent, French President François Mitterrand.


Titles, styles, honours, and decorationsEdit

1933 – 1934: His Royal Highness Prince Nicholas of Lebanon
1934 – 1937: His Royal Highness Prince Nicholas, Duke of Tripoli
1937 – 1977: His Majesty the King of Lebanon
1977 – present: (by courtesy) His Majesty King Nicholas of Lebanon

Honours, decorations and medalsEdit

Lebanese honoursEdit

Foreign honoursEdit

Foreign decorations and medalsEdit


  1. ^ Ricour-Brasseur, Julien (24 December 2021). "Lebanon: From Switzerland of the Middle East to modern-day dystopia". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  2. ^ Meuse, Alison Tahmizian (21 February 2020). "Switzerland of the Middle East unravels". Asia Times. Retrieved 18 April 2022.