Liberated by Moroccan Goumiers, 10 years later, Corsica serves as King Mohammed V’s exile  

Today, France celebrates the anniversary of Corsica’s liberation from the German occupation. In 2013, President Francois Hollande and Prince Moulay Rachid paid homage to the Moroccan soldiers who fought against the German. Corsica, however, marked the history of Morocco in a different way, serving for a few months as an exile of Sultan Mohammed V.

Moroccan Goumiers, an army that helped France liberate Corsica./Ph. DR
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On June the 18th 1945, Moroccan soldiers paraded through the Champs Elysees. They saluted General De Gaulle, head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic, and Sultan Mohamed V. The next day, the Moroccan sovereign had even received the Order of Liberation, a French Order which was awarded to heroes of the Liberation of France during World War II.

Sultan Mohammed receiving the Order of Liberation on the 19th of June 1945./Ph. DRSultan Mohammed receiving the Order of Liberation on the 19th of June 1945./Ph. DR

Among the Goumiers who marched on that day, soldiers who participated, on October the 4th, 1943, to the campaign initiated to kick out the German from L’ile de Beauté, a region of Corsica. On that day, none of the Moroccan Goumiers, would have imagined, for a moment, that the land they helped to liberate would be, ten years later, an exile to their beloved King.

In Corsica, Sultan Mohammed V stayed at the Napoleon Bonaparte Hotel

On August the 20th, 1953, French soldiers invaded the Royal Place in Rabat, forcing the royal family to board a bus to an unknown destination. The resident general, General Augustin Guillaume, had a plan : to drop Sultan Mohammed V and put him in exile in Corsica, for he refused to renounce the throne as ordered by the French representatives. On the throne, it was planned to designate Mohammed Ben Arafa, with the blessing of the powerful Pasha of Marrakech, Thami Glaoui, and some Ulema.

For six months, the king and his family were staying at the Napoleon Bonaparte Hotel. On February the 5th 1953, France sent the royal family to another island : Madagascar, where the Sultan spent almost 23 months.

Moroccan Goumiers parading./Ph. DRMoroccan Goumiers parading./Ph. DR

On September 1955, and two months before the return of Sultan Mohammed V, France sent General Georges Catroux to Madagascar to discuss with the Sultan the French-Moroccan crisis. Consequently, Paris gave up on Ben Arafa on November the 6th, 1955. Mohammed V and the French Prime Minister Antoine Pinay then signed La Celle Saint-Cloud agreements, ending the protectorate. Ten days later, the exhumation of exile was closed, enabling the Sultan to return to Morocco and on the 16th of November of the same year, Mohammed V was recognized as a Sultan after active opposition to the French protectorate.

King Mohammed V’s story with Corsica did not end there. In 1959, he returned to the island where he was once exiled but this time as the King of Morocco.

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