Mable Turney

Mable Turney

Published: 14 Sep 2023


King Idris I was a prominent figure in the history of Libya. While many may be familiar with his role as the country’s first and only monarch, there are several lesser-known facts that make his life and reign truly remarkable. In this article, we will delve into the surprising aspects of King Idris I’s life, shedding light on his accomplishments, struggles, and contributions to Libya’s development. From his unexpected rise to power to his significant role in the creation of the Libyan state, we will explore the fascinating details that make King Idris I’s story stand out. So buckle up for a journey through history as we unravel nine surprising facts about the enigmatic King Idris I.

Table of Contents

The First and Last Monarch of Libya

King Idris I, born on March 12, 1890, in Jaghbub, Libya, was the first and last monarch of the Kingdom of Libya. He ruled from 1951 until 1969 when he was overthrown in a military coup led by Muammar Gaddafi. Despite his relatively short reign, King Idris I played a significant role in shaping Libya’s early political landscape.

Ascension to the Throne

King Idris I ascended to the throne in 1951, following the creation of the Kingdom of Libya as an independent state. This followed a complex period of negotiation and consolidation of different tribal and regional forces. His appointment as the monarch was seen as a unifying force for the country and a symbol of national identity.

An Advocate for Pan-Arabism

During his reign, King Idris I advocated for pan-Arabism, an ideology that aimed for the political and cultural unification of Arab nations. He supported the establishment of the Arab League and played an active role in promoting Arab unity and cooperation.

Founding Member of OPEC

King Idris I was a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in OPEC was formed to coordinate and stabilize oil prices and protect the interests of oil-producing nations. King Idris I recognized the importance of oil as a valuable resource for Libya’s economy.

A Constitutional Monarch

As a constitutional monarch, King Idris I supported the development of a parliamentary system in Libya. He appointed several prime ministers and worked towards creating a constitutional framework that would ensure a balance of power between the monarchy and the government.

Establishment of the University of Libya

Under King Idris I’s rule, the University of Libya was established in This institution played a crucial role in providing higher education opportunities to Libyan students and promoting intellectual growth within the country.

Preservation of Cultural Heritage

King Idris I was deeply passionate about preserving Libya’s cultural heritage. He promoted the restoration of historical sites, such as the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna, and invested in the preservation of traditional arts and crafts.

Focus on Modernizing the Economy

Recognizing the need to modernize Libya’s economy, King Idris I implemented various economic reforms during his reign. These reforms aimed to diversify the economy beyond oil, investing in sectors such as agriculture, education, and industrial development.

Exile in Egypt

Following his overthrow in 1969, King Idris I went into exile in Egypt, where he lived until his death on May 25, Despite the political changes that took place in Libya, King Idris I remained a symbol of unity and stability for many Libyans.


King Idris I was a fascinating historical figure, and learning about his life can provide valuable insights into the history and culture of Libya. From his role as the first and only king of Libya to his contributions to education and development, King Idris I left a lasting impact on the country. Despite facing numerous challenges during his reign, he managed to lead Libya through a period of significant political and social change. His efforts to establish a stable and prosperous nation are admirable, and his legacy continues to be celebrated to this day.


Q: Who was King Idris I?

A: King Idris I was the first and only king of Libya. He ruled the country from 1951 until 1969 when he was overthrown by Muammar Gaddafi.

Q: What were some of King Idris I’s accomplishments?

A: King Idris I played a crucial role in the independence of Libya from Italian colonial rule. He also focused on education and development, establishing numerous schools and universities in the country.

Q: Why was King Idris I overthrown?

A: King Idris I was overthrown by Muammar Gaddafi in 1969 due to several factors, including allegations of corruption, economic inequality, and a desire for a more revolutionary governance system.

Q: How is King Idris I remembered in Libya?

A: King Idris I is remembered with respect and admiration by many Libyans for his efforts in leading the country towards independence and his contributions to education and development.

Q: Are there any monuments or landmarks dedicated to King Idris I in Libya?

A: Yes, there are several monuments and landmarks in Libya dedicated to King Idris I, including the Idris I Mosque in Tripoli, which is named in his honor.

Q: What was the political climate like during King Idris I’s reign?

A: During King Idris I’s reign, Libya experienced relative stability in terms of its political climate. However, there were some internal and external challenges, including tribal tensions and border disputes with neighboring countries.