April 3, 2012:
Neslisah Sultan, or Princess Neslisah, died in Istanbul April 2, 2012 at the age of 91. Neslisah Osmanoglu
, an Ottoman princess who married an Egyptian prince and was twice forced into exile when both royal households were abolished. Neslisah Sultan was born in Istanbul on Feb. 4, 1921, two years before the Turkish Republic replaced the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled Turkey, parts of the Middle East and eastern Europe for 600 years. Her grandfather, the last Ottoman Sultan Vahdettin, and all other members of the dynasty were sent into exile in 1924. The princess spent her childhood and adolescence in Nice, France, before moving to Egypt.
In 1940, Neslihan Sultan married Egyptian Prince Muhammed Abdel Monem. Prince Monem, who was born in 1899, died in Istanbul in 1979. Ottoman princesses were traditionally married to members of Muslim royal families. Prince Monem headed a regency committee that ruled from July 1952 to June 1953, when the new rulers of Egypt turned the country into a republic. The royal couple were placed under house arrest, accused of being part of an international plot against the Egyptian government of Gamal Abdel Nasser, but acquitted and forced to leave the country. Exiled for a second time, Neslisah Sultan returned to live in France with her husband.
In 1952, the Turkish government allowed members of the Ottoman family to return to Turkey, and the prince and princess moved to Istanbul in 1957. The princess took the surname Osmanoglu, or son of Osman, along with other surviving members of the dynasty. Neslisah Sultan is survived by a son, daughter and a grandson. Her nephew, Abdulhamid Kayihan Osmanoglu didn’t reveal the cause of death. The princess, was the oldest member of the Ottoman dynasty.
Historian Murat Bardakci, whose biography of the princess was published last year quotes her,”When we were in exile we lived longing for the country. “My mother had friends who would go to Istanbul. I would ask them to bring me back a bit of soil from Istanbul, but none did.” “When I go out in the streets, I see that all nice things were built by my grandfathers.” “I therefore cannot help think that they belong to me. I feel like I am a part of this place and that I belong to this land.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated, “She was the poster-child for nobleness who carried the blood of Osman, referring to Osman I, the Anatolian ruler who established the Ottoman Empire. “We remember her with high regard and our blessings.”
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