The history of Egypt under the British lasted from 1882, when it was occupied by British forces during the Anglo Egyptian War, until 1956 after the Suez Crisis, when the last British forces withdrew in accordance with the Anglo-Egyptian agreement of 1954. The first period of British rule (1882–1914) is often famous as “veiled protectorate”. During this time the Khedivate of Egypt remained an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire, and the British occupation had no legal basis but constituted a de facto protectorate over the country. Egypt was thus not part of the British Empire. This state of affairs lasted until 1914 when the Ottoman Empire joined World War I on the side of the Central Powers and Britain declared a protectorate over Egypt.

Veiled Protectorate (1882–1913)

Throughout the 19th century, the ruling dynasty of Egypt had borrowed and spent vast sums of money on its own luxury and on the infrastructural development of Egypt. The dynasty’s economic development was almost wholly oriented toward military dual-use goals. Consequently, despite vast sums of European capital, actual economic production and resulting revenues were insufficient to repay the loans. Eventually, the country teetered toward economic dissolution and implosion. In turn, a European commission led by Britain and France took control of the treasury of Egypt. Forgave debt in return for taking control of the Suez Canal, and reoriented economic development toward capital gain.

However, by 1882 Islamic and Arabic Nationalist opposition to European influence led to growing tension amongst notable natives. Especially in Egypt which was then the most powerful, populous, and influential of Arab countries. The most dangerous opposition during this period came from the Egyptian army. Which saw the reorientation of economic development away from their control as a threat to their privileges.