The "Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez" was organized at the end of 1858 by Ferdinand de Lesseps for construction of the Suez canal. This was previously hampered by the continuing opposition of the British government attempting to prevent the Sultan of Egypt from approving the construction of the canal. De Lesseps had to overcome this and eventually had to seek the support of his cousin, Empress Eugenie, to persuade her husband the Emperor Napoleon III of France to act as arbitrator in the disputes.
After approving the construction of the canal, on 25 April 1859 the first blow of the pickaxe for the Suez canal was given by de Lesseps at Port Said.
Opening ceremony of the launching of the Suez canal on 17th November 1869