Neslişah Sultan, who was the eldest member of the Ottoman royal family, passed away in İstanbul at the age of 91 early on Monday. A funeral service was held for the deceased Ottoman princess in İstanbul's Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque following noon prayer.
She was buried in Aşiyan Asri Cemetery after the funeral ceremony, which Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also attended on behalf of the government. Arınç also delivered his condolences to the Osmanoğlu family at Yıldız Palace's Mabeyn Köşkü.
"The last representative of the [Ottoman] dynasty has passed away. I am here to deliver condolonces on behalf of Mr. Prime Minister and my colleagues. We regard attending the funeral of Neslişah Hanımefendi a duty," Arınç told reporters during the funeral ceremony. "We are sad. She was a very vaulable lady. She bade farewell to life after a 91-year-long life of hardships."
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also expressed sadness over the death of Neslişah Sultan during a speech in Parliament on Tuesday. “Fatma Neslişah Osmanoğlu was a symbol of nobility, carrying the blood of Osman Gazi [the founder of Ottoman Empire]. We remember her with gratitude and respect. May God be pleased with her and her family,” he said.
Neslişah Sultan, a paternal granddaughter of the last Ottoman Caliph Abdülmecid II and maternal granddaughter of the last Ottoman Sultan and Caliph Mehmed VI Vahdettin, died early on Monday in her Ortaköy home. She assumed the title of eldest surviving member of the Ottoman dynasty after the death of Osman Ertuğrul Osmanoğlu in 2009.
Neslişah 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, and the princess spent her childhood and adolescence in Nice, France, before moving to Egypt.
"When we were in exile we lived longing for the country," she told historian Murat Bardakçı, whose biography of the princess was published last year. "My mother had friends who would go to İstanbul. I would ask them to bring me back a bit of soil from Istanbul, but none did."
Ottoman princesses were traditionally married to members of Muslim royal families, and in 1940, Neslihan Sultan married Egyptian Prince Muhammed Abdel Monem. 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, Neslişah Sultan returned to live in France with her husband.
In 1952, the Turkish government allowed female members of the Ottoman family to return to Turkey, and the prince and princess moved to İstanbul in 1957.
The princess took the surname Osmanoğlu, or son of Osman, along with other surviving members of the dynasty.
"When I go out in the streets, I see that all nice things were built by my grandfathers," she told Bardakçı. "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."
Prince Monem, who was born in 1899, died in İstanbul in 1979.
Neslişah Sultan is survived by a son, daughter and a grandson.