Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Nizam of Hyderabad & A Princess of the Ottoman Caliphate

Her Imperial Highness The Princess Hadice Hayriye Ayshe Dürrühsehvar Sultan, (Khadija Khayriya Ayesha Dürrühsehvar, خدیجہ خیریہ عائشہ در شہوار or Turkish: Hatice Hayriye Ayşe Dürrüşehvar), also known as HIH Princess Durru Shevar was born in Turkey when the Ottoman Empire was passing through its last phase. Her father, Caliph Abdülmecid II, went into exile in the Paris, France after the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924.

On the family's exile to France in 1924, she was sought by the Shah of Persia and King Fuad 1 of Egypt as a bride for their respective heirs, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Farouk, and by Prince Azam Jah(1907 - 1970), the eldest son and heir of the last Nizam of Hyderabad State, Osman ALi Khan, Asif Jah VII, whom she married in Nice, France, on 12 November 1931. Her first cousin Princess Niloufer, was married to Prince Moazzam Jah, the second son of the Nizam. It has been suggested that through these dynastic marriages, Osman Ali hoped to acquire the Caliphate for his descendants.

The marriage of the princess was performed, in the south of France, by the good offices of Maulana Shaukat ALi, brother of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, the leader of the Khilafat Movement in India.
It was believed at that time that the matrimonial alliance between the Nizam, the richest ruler in the world of his time, and the deposed Caliph would lead to the emergence of a Muslim ruler who could be acceptable to the world powers in place of the Ottoman sultans. Princess Durru Shahvar, whose father was raised by a branch of the Ottoman monarchy deeply interested in modernizing reforms and believed in modern education for women including his wives and daughter, became a popular public figure after her arrival in Hyderabad. 

Following the birth of her sons Prince Mukarram Jah in 1933 and Prince Muffakham Jah in 1936, she took charge of their upbringing, the two princes being educated in Britain  and also marrying Turkish ladies. The last Nizam later bypassed his own son and nominated her first son and his grandson, as his successor.The Princess became the first woman to inaugurate an airport when she inaugurated the airport in Hyderabad in the 1940s. She is also credited with inaugurating the Osmania General Hospital. She set up the Durru Shehvar Children's Hospital for women and children in the old city of Hyderabad. Her last public appearance in the city was when she presided over the opening ceremony of the Nizam’s Silver Jubilee Museum in 2000. She last visited Hyderabad in 2004. She divided her time principally between Hyderabad and London. 

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