Mahmud Osmanoğlu: a sultan's descendent in the heart of London

Osmanoğlu received his Turkish citizenship card and passport last year. He wishes to visit Turkey more often. (Photo: AA)

December 19, 2011, Monday/ 17:12:00

Mahmud Osmanoğlu, a Turk born and bred in London, has a more interesting family tale to tell than most. The 32-year-old has never lived in Turkey but he is in fact the son of the great-grandson of the 35th Ottoman sultan, Mehmet V Reşad, who reigned at Dolmabahçe Palace, from 1909 until his death in 1918.

Osmanoğlu, who works for the London-based company Streaming Well, which produces and distributes educational health videos targeted at patients and health professionals, explained in an interview with the Anatolia news agency at his home in London's Hammersmith district that having received his Turkish citizenship card and passport last year, he wishes to visit Turkey more often and spend time there not as a foreign tourist but as a Turkish citizen.

According to the Anatolia report, Osmanoğlu's living room is a small Ottoman shrine, featuring old photographs of his father's great-grandfather, Sultan Reşad, and various Ottoman knickknacks, Turkish history books and pictures of his family. A fan of tennis, the 32-year-old also has a signed photograph and tennis racket of the famous Swiss tennis star Roger Federer displayed in pride of place amongst his family memorabilia.

Mahmud Osmanoğlu's grandfather, Mahmud Namık Efendi, was born in Dolmabahçe Palace in 1913. A keen traveler, he moved to Egypt with his family but decided to send Osmanoğlu's father, Ömer Abdülmecid, to England at the age of 4 in the belief that he would get a good education there. Osmanoğlu's father remained there, consequently marrying a local woman and establishing a family home in London.

Despite the fact that Osmanoğlu's mother was Christian, he was brought up as a Muslim. “I was born in England and always lived in Western countries -- we lived in France and the US for periods during my childhood -- but I was raised as a Muslim. I didn't go to mosques that frequently during my youth, but whenever we went to Turkey I would always be sure to go to the mosques and pray -- this was very important for me,” he explained.

Delivering an account of his father's childhood, Osmanoğlu explained that the fact that Ottoman royal family members were banned from visiting Turkey until 1974 had been a huge sore point for his father. “It was hard for him to be brought up in England knowing his heritage was in Turkey. When he finally did go to Turkey he always tells us he was very emotional. Despite the fact that he was born in Egypt and brought up in England, he was a very proud Turk. He would often tell us a story of how once when he was a child and visiting relatives in Paris, he got on an elevator that was old and unstable. As the elevator began its ascent, one of his relatives asked him, ‘Are you okay?' and according to him he answered simply, ‘I'm not scared, don't worry, a Turk never fears'.”

Osmanoğlu, along with his father, received his Turkish identity card and passport from the Turkish Embassy in London only last year. “Turkish Consul General Ahmet Demirok presented them to us in person and it really was a proud and happy moment for us both,” he said.

Revealing that he is currently attending Turkish lessons at the Yunus Emre Turkish Culture Center, Osmanoğlu said he hopes he will be able to live there one day. “I see a future in Turkey; I want to go there more frequently, not just for holidays but for longer periods. My wife is pregnant with our first child at the minute, which is one of the reasons it was so important for me to get my Turkish passport. I want my child to learn Turkish and to be able to identify as a Turk. I didn't just get this passport to put on a shelf and collect dust, I am not just another English tourist, I am Turkish and I want to strengthen my relationship with the country,” he said.

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