Sabiha Sultan

Sabiha Sultan
Born 2 April 1894
Ortaköy Palace, Ortaköy, Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died 26 August 1971(1971-08-26) (aged 77)
Çengelköy, Istanbul, Turkey
(m. 1920; div. 1948)
Turkish: Rukiye Sabiha Sultan
Ottoman Turkish: رقیه صبیحه سلطان
Dynasty Ottoman
Father Mehmed VI
Mother Nazikeda Kadın
Religion Sunni Islam

Sabiha Sultan (Turkish: Rukiye Sabiha Sultan; Ottoman Turkish: رقیہ صبیحه سلطان; 2 April 1894 – 26 August 1971) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Sultan Mehmed VI and his first wife Nazikeda Kadın. She was the first wife of Şehzade Ömer Faruk, son of Abdulmejid II and Şehsuvar Hanım.

Early life

Sabiha Sultan was born on 2 April 1894 in her father's palace in Ortaköy.[1] Her father was Mehmed VI, son of Abdulmejid I and Gülüstü Hanım. Her mother was Nazikeda Kadın, daughter of Hasan Marshan and Fatma Horecan Aredba.[2] She was the third daughter born to her father and mother. She had two sisters, Fenire Sultan, six years elder than her, and Ulviye Sultan, one year elder than her.[3][4][5]

Refik Bey, the son of Mihrifelek Hanım, the second kalfa of Sultan Abdulmejid I was appointed teacher to Sabiha, and her elder sister Ulviye Sultan.[6] The two had learned to play piano from Mlle Voçino.[7]



When her father ascended the throne in 1918, Sabiha was still unmarried, but had several admirers. Those who knew her always said that she was not like the other women of the Ottoman family. "Sabiha Sultan was different", said the Turkish poet Yahya Kemal.[8]

Her first suitor is thought to be Rauf Orbay,[8] a relative of Sultan Abdul Hamid II's wife, Sazkar Hanım.[9] He was followed by Mahmud Kemal Pasha. Another was Fuad Bey of the Babanzade clan. Captain Safvet Arıkan, Lieutenant Suphi Bey from Damascus were other suitors, but none of them were accepted.[8] Another suitor was Mehmed Ali Pasha, the nephew of Ahmed Muhtar Pasha.[10]

Her betrothal to Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last ruling member of the Qajar dynasty and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was forfeited in favor of her second cousin Şehzade Ömer Faruk thus missing her chance of becoming the first "First Lady" of the nascent Turkish Republic.[11]


Sabiha (third from right) on her wedding day

Sabiha and Şehzade Ömer Faruk who was four years her junior, the son of Abdulmejid II, the last Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate and Şehsuvar Hanım, were in love with each other. When Abdulmejid asked Sabiha's hand in marriage for his son, Mehmed flatly refused as there was no such thing as a marriage between cousins.[12] Şehsuvar Hanım, the prince's mother called on Nazikeda, and succeeded in convincing her.[13]

The marriage took place on 5 December 1919,[14] in the pavilion of the sacred relics, Topkapı Palace. The marriage was performed by Şeyhülislam Hayrizade Ibrahim Efendi. Sabiha Sultan's deputy was Başkatip Ali Fuad Bey, and Ömer Faruk's deputy was Ömer Yaver Pasha.[15] The wedding reception took place four months later on 29 April 1920 at the Yıldız Palace.[16][17][18][19]

In May 1920, ten days after their wedding, Sabiha and Faruk moved to the mansion of Rumelihisarı. In October of the same year, her father bought two houses for his daughters[20] in Nişantaşı.[21] The mansions were known as the Twin Palaces. He gave one house to Ulviye Sultan, and the other to Sabiha. Sabiha and Faruk decided to live in Nişantaşı during the winter and Rumelihisarı in the summer.[20]

Issue and exile

Sabiha and her husband, Ömer Faruk

The couple's eldest daughter, Neslişah Sultan was born on 4 November 1921 in the Nişantaşı Palace.[22] She was followed two years later by Hanzade Sultan, born on 19 September 1923 in the Dolmabahçe Palace.[23]

At the exile of the imperial family in March 1924, Sabiha and her two daughters left Turkey. On 11 March, she left her mansion in Rumelihisarı and took the Orient Express to join her husband and father-in-law in Switzerland.[24] Later they moved to Nice, where her youngest daughter Necla Sultan was born on 15 May 1926.[5][25][18]

In 1930, Şehzade Ibrahim Tevfik, now penniless, came to live in Nice in a small cottage in a village nearby with his family.[26] He then moved in with his cousin Sabiha and Ömer Faruk, where he died in 1931.[27]

Her mother also used to come for a stay at Nice with her. A large room used to be assigned to her, which she shared with Prince Ertuğrul, her stepson, whenever he came back from Grasse.[27] In 1938, she moved to Alexandria with her mother and sister after her mother's grave illness there.[28]

In 1940, she attended the wedding of her daughter, Neslişah Sultan and Prince Mohamed Abdel Moneim, son of Egypt's last khedive Abbas Hilmi II.[29][30] Her two other daughters, Hanzade Sultan, and Necla Sultan also married Egyptian princes, Mehmed Ali Ibrahim in 1940, and Amr Ibrahim in 1943 respectively.[5]


Sabiha's husband, Ömer Faruk developed an increased interest in his cousin Mihrişah Sultan, the daughter of crown prince Şehzade Yusuf Izzeddin. It was also a public knowledge that things were not going well between Faruk and Sabiha.[31]

In 1944, Mihrişah even sided with Faruk when the council chose Prince Ahmed Nihad as the head of the family. While Sabiha backed the council's decision and approved the choice of the leader.[32] Her daughters also sided with her. Faruk accused Sabiha of turning their daughters against him. But he was already in love with Mihrişah and the issue of the council was just an excuse.[33]

And so on 5 March 1948, after twenty eight years of marriage, Ömer Faruk divorced Sabiha, and married Mihrişah Sultan.[29] However, their marriage didn't last, and a few years later, Mihrişah divorced Faruk.[34]

Later years

Following her divorce, Sabiha Sultan left her home in Maadi on the other side of Cairo to be closer to her eldest daughter, Princess Neslişah. Taking a few things with her she moved to a small apartment in Heliopolis. She sent her furniture to her second daughter Princess Hanzade's house in Cairo, while she was living in Paris. But after the Egyptian revolution of 1952, all she owned there was confiscated with all the belongings of her daughter and son-in-law.[35]

Later, Sabiha went to Paris for a while, to live with Princess Hanzade.[36] Sabiha also stayed with Neslişah at Montreux for sometime. Here she visited her cousin Sultanzade Sabahaddin Bey, son of Seniha Sultan.[37] But as soon as the female members of the Ottoman family were allowed to return to Turkey in 1952 she moved to Istanbul. She rented a small flat in Kuyuku Bostan Street in the district of Nişantaşı, and the few things she still had in Egypt were sent to Istanbul.[36]


Sabiha Sultan died on 26 August 1971 at the age of seventy seven in her mansion in Çengelköy, Istanbul and was buried in Aşiyan Asri Cemetery.[25][18]



Name Birth Death Notes
Neslişah Sultan 4 February 1921[39] 2 April 2012[39] Married once, and had issue, a son, and a daughter; died in Istanbul, Turkey[39]
Hanzade Sultan 19 September 1923[40] 19 March 1998[40] Married once, and had issue, a son and a daughter; died in Paris, France[40]
Necla Sultan 15 May 1926[39] 6 October 2006[39] Born in Nice, France; married once, and had issue, a son; died in Lisbon, Portugal[39]



  1. ^ Bardakçı 2017, pp. 9–10.
  2. ^ Açba 2004, pp. 66, 77.
  3. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, pp. 708–709.
  4. ^ Uluçay 2011, pp. 262, 265.
  5. ^ a b c Adra, Jamil (2005). Genealogy of the Imperial Ottoman Family 2005. pp. 35–36.
  6. ^ Bardakçı 2017, pp. 68–69.
  7. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 709.
  8. ^ a b c Bardakçı 2017, p. 11.
  9. ^ Açba 2004, p. 83.
  10. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 710.
  11. ^ "MAADI'S OTTOMANS". Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  12. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 27.
  13. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 28.
  14. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 29.
  15. ^ Açba 2004, p. 101.
  16. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, pp. 710–711.
  17. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 30.
  18. ^ a b c Uluçay 2011, p. 266.
  19. ^ Açba 2004, p. 102.
  20. ^ a b Bardakçı 2017, p. 31.
  21. ^ Açba 2004, p. 105.
  22. ^ Bardakçı 2017, pp. 31–32.
  23. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 47.
  24. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 70.
  25. ^ a b Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 711.
  26. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 141.
  27. ^ a b Bardakçı 2017, p. 142.
  28. ^ Bardakçı 2017, pp. 152–154.
  29. ^ a b Bardakçı 2017, p. 171.
  30. ^ Açba 2004, p. 105 n. 16.
  31. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 205.
  32. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 207.
  33. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 208.
  34. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 209.
  35. ^ Bardakçı 2017, pp. 265–266.
  36. ^ a b Bardakçı 2017, p. 266.
  37. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 216.
  38. ^ a b c Yılmaz Öztuna (1978). Başlangıcından zamanımıza kadar büyük Türkiye tarihi: Türkiye'nin siyasî, medenî, kültür, teşkilât ve san'at tarihi. Ötüken Yayınevi. p. 165.
  39. ^ a b c d e f Bardakçı 2017, p. xvi.
  40. ^ a b c Bardakçı 2017, p. xiv.


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