|The Last Ottoman|
|Written by Lorenzo Montesini|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012|
Her Imperial Highness The Princess Fatma Neslişah, Imperial Princess of the Ottoman Empire and Princess of Egypt, Osmanoğlu Sultan was born in Istanbul at the Nişantaşı Palace, overlooking the Bosphorus on 4 February 1921. She grew up in Nice, in France, after the Ottoman Family was exiled when she was 3 years old.
The Princess married Egyptian Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim in 1940. The eldest member of the Ottoman royal family, she died in the former Ottoman capital, Istanbul, on 2 April 2012. She was 91.
In this essay,Lorenzo Montesini* recalls his encounters with the Princess.
In the magical Haroun El Rachid city of Istanboul, or to the sticklers Constantinople, around the Bosphoros, past Dolmabache palace, that kilometer long white palace, past Berlebey palace and the Ciragan which is now a very posh hotel, where account executives from the West can pretend, for a very high fee to be guests of the Sultans, along the water past all that at a rise on the hill in a tree filled compound in a konak or grand 40s residence of white, lies the last remains of Neslishah Sultan.
Expelled from Turkey after the coup by Kemal Attaturk, the Imperial family took refuge in France, she and her two sisters, where eventually they sought husbands in Royal Egypt: Neslishah the eldest, marrying King Farouk's cousin and heir Prince Abdelmonein, who should have been king as the British dethroned his father Khedive Abbas Hilmi the second, Nedjla Sultan married Prince Amr Ibrahim and the youngest Hanzade Sultan married Prince Mohamed Ali Ibrahim. The three sisters were the ornaments of Cairo society and the glamorous court of Egypt in the late 30's, 40's and early 50's making contributions to the charitable institutions set up by the Mohamed Ali women of the dynasty.
With the 52 Revolution in Egypt of the Free Officers, Gamal Abdel Nasser, toppled the King and all the Turkish, Circassian dynasty which had ruled modern Egypt since the departure of Napoleon at the turn of the 19th century. Neslisha's husband became the Regent for over a year after the departure of Farouk with his baby son, making Neslishah the uncrowned Queen of Egypt for that interregnum, until the Officers, abolished the monarchy. The titular coup leader Mohamed Naguib said to Abdel Moneim, as they were watching the Royal yatch Mahroussa sailing Farouk to exile, ""Sir if you had been King we would not be where we are now" .
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