Osman Fuad

Osman Fuad
H.I.H. Prince Osman Fuad

Prince Osman Fuad in Ottoman Uniform as Commander-in-Chief of Ottoman forces in Libya (wearing his military decorations including the Gallipoli Star)
Head of the House of Osman
Term 4 June 1954 – 19 May 1973
Predecessor Ahmed Nihad
Successor Mehmed Abdulaziz
Born 24 February 1895
Çırağan Palace, Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died 19 May 1973(1973-05-19) (aged 78)
Nice, France
House Imperial House of Osman
Father Şehzade Mehmed Selaheddin
Mother Jalefer Hanım
Religion Islam

Osman Fuad[1][2] (Çırağan Palace, Ortaköy, February 24, 1895 – 19 May 1973), was the 39th Head of the Imperial House of Osman from 1954 to 1973.

General of Ottoman Cavalry, Commander in Chief at Tripoli, Libya. Sometime Major à la suite of the Hussar Regt. Prussian Gardes du corps. Rcvd: the Collar of the Hanedan-ı-Ali-Osman, the Nişan-ı-Ali-Imtiyaz, the Nişan-ı-Osmaniye, and the Nişan-ı-Mecidiye special class in brilliants, GC of the Orders of the Red Eagle of Prussia, and Leopold of Austria (1917), Knt. of the Order of the Iron Cross 2nd class of Prussia. Succeeded on the death of his elder half-brother, Ahmed Nihad Efendi, as Head of the Imperial House of Osman, 1954. Had he been the reigning Sultan he would have been Sultan Osman IV.


He was born as the third son of Prince Mehmed Selaheddin Efendi, by his sixth wife, Jalefer Hanım, and was a grandson of Murad V. He spent his early childhood confined to the Çırağan Palace, Ortaköy, in Constantinople. The Palace served as an enforced residence to his grandfather Murad V, who had been deposed in 1876, and replaced by his brother, Abdülhamid II. The restrictions imposed on the former Sultan extended to his entire family, and were not lifted until his death in 1904. On the death of his grandfather, Osman Fuad Efendi left this life of confinement and for a few years lived in the properties rented by his father in Feneryolu, Kuruçeşme, and Ortaköy, before returning to the Çırağan Palace to live with his grandmother Empress Şayan Kadın, the third wife of Murad V.

Early military career

Osman Fuad Efendi in the uniform of an officer of the Hussars.

When Libya was invaded by the Italians in 1911, Osman was aged sixteen. He joined the Volunteer Officers force (Fedâî Zâbitân) raised by Enver Pasha and saw active service in the campaign. Osman Fuad Efendi, took part in the Cyrenaica Operation in the sanjak of Benghazi. Here, he made the acquaintance of Mustafa Kemal Bey, who was then a captain. On returning to Istanbul, he attended the Ottoman Military Academy. Once he had completed his studies there, he went to Palestine. Following this, he was sent to Germany together with his cousins Prince Abdürrahim Hayri Efendi and Mehmed Abdülhalim Efendi, where he studied at the Military Academy in Potsdam. After graduation, he joined the Imperial Guard of Hussars, where he held the rank of captain. After two and a half years in Germany, Osman was recalled to the Ottoman Empire, following the outbreak of the First World War. During his journey back to his homeland, the German submarine in which he was travelling was torpedoed by British submarines near the port of Kiel, and Osman suffered a head injury from the lid of an escape hatch. He was operated on at an Austrian military field hospital on the shores of the Adriatic. When he recovered, he was given a command in the Imperial Household Cavalry, with the rank of major. He was an accomplished soldier, and was one of many Imperial Ottoman princes who served bravely in the Imperial army throughout the First World War. He was first sent to Sinai, but his head wound reopened and he was sent to Aleppo for further treatment. It was while there that he met Mustafa Kemal Bey again, who was now also a major. While stationed there, they stayed at the Hotel Baron, which still survives to this day. Osman Fuad also fought at Gallipoli in defence of his homeland from the invading Allied forces and was awarded the Gallipoli Star. Like so many other Turks, he was wounded while serving there, but unlike hundreds of thousands he was lucky to survive. He was then transferred back to Constantinople, where he became deputy commander of the Imperial Household Cavalry, accompanying Sultan Mehmed V on his procession to and from the mosque for Friday prayers, and at other ceremonies. He also became the Sultan's personal aide-de-camp. However, Osman longed for active service and was soon sent to Libya once more, this time in the suite of Nuri Pasha, an uncle of Enver Pasha. He then returned to Constantinople for a short time until in January 1918, when he was only 23 years of age, he was promoted from the rank of major to that of major-general.

Commander-in-Chief of the Africa Groups

Following the appointment of Nuri Pasha to the Army of Islam, Osman Fuad Efendi became Commander-in-Chief of the Africa Groups Command and was posted back to Libya, travelling in German submarine UC-78 by way of Pola. He had under his command a force of between 300 and 500 Ottoman officers and soldiers, as well as between 15,000 and 30,000 Libyan volunteers. His Chief of Staff was Abdurrahman Nafiz Bey (Gürman). Despite his efforts in the field, Osman Fuad Efendi and his men were unable to withstand the well-equipped Italian force of 60,000 opposing them.

In April 1917 the Ottoman force in Benghazi had surrendered. Following the Armistice of Mondros, signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies in 1918, Osman Fuad Efendi refused to lay down his arms, as he had been ordered to do. He continued to put up a resistance for a few more months from his headquarters in the city of Misrata, and was encouraged in this by Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who had advised him to "declare his independence" and not to pay any attention to the orders he received from the Ministry of War in Constantinople. The two men had become friends after their previous meetings and the subsequent time they had spent together in the capital at the Pera Palace Hotel.

However, as a result of the Armistice, the German submarines which had been supplying the Ottoman forces with supplies and ammunition were unable to put to sea, and this left the Ottomans in a very difficult situation. Rather than surrender to the Italians and risk being shot as a terrorist, Osman Fuad Efendi decided to give himself up to the French in Tunisia. Firstly he disbanded his force of volunteers. He then rode south, with the Ottoman troops under his command, into the desert until they were out of the Italians' reach before turning west. During this time, he was suffering from dysentery. On reaching the Tunisian border he announced his intention of surrendering to the French, on condition that he and his men would not be handed over to the Italians. The French agreed to this condition, however within 24 hours they handed him and his men over to the Italians. The Italians sent their captives to Tripoli, distributing them among the various prisoner-of-war camps where German soldiers were also being held. Knowing that he was an Ottoman Imperial Prince they were reluctant to shoot him, so he was sent to Naples in a military transport ship. He was first kept in a ship off the island of Ischia, then placed in confinement in a house in Naples for nearly eight months. Towards the end of 1919 he was released, and allowed to return to Constantinople, where he was made Garrison Commander of the city, and where he had several discussions with Sultan Mehmed VI on matters of state.


On 26 March 1920, at the Feriye Palace, Beşiktaş, Osman married Kerime Halim of Egypt (born in Constantinople 15 March 1898, died childless 28 March 1971), the second daughter of Abbas Halim Pasha, sometime Governor-General of Bursa and Minister for Public Works, by his wife Hadice, second daughter of Mehmed Tawfik Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, GCB, GCSI. One of the people who attended the wedding in the Çırağan Palace was İsmet Bey (İnönü), who had recently stayed as a guest at Osman Fuad's house for eighteen months. At the time of the expulsion of the Ottoman Imperial family, Mustafa Kemal only felt it necessary to exile the Imperial Princes. It was İsmet İnönü, who was then Prime Minister, who insisted on having the whole family, both men and women of all ages, expelled. It is said that İnönü’s unfounded hatred for the Imperial family was the result of a complex acquired at this time. The marriage ended in divorce at Paris on 22 November 1932.


When the nationalist movement in Anatolia turned against the Istanbul administration, Osman Fuad Efendi left Istanbul in secret, with his wife, on board an Italian steamboat. He then lived overseas for over two years. On the appointment of Abdülmecid as Caliph, he returned to Constantinople, where he lived at the Çırağan Palace. However, following the establishment of the Turkish Republic and the aboliton of the Ottoman Sultanate and the Ottoman Caliphate, in March 1924 the entire Imperial Ottoman family was forced into exile. At the time of the abolition of the Caliphate, Osman Fuad Efendi was again in Rome. While there he received a letter via military courier from Mustafa Kemal Pasha, his former friend and fellow veteran of the Ottoman campaigns of the First World War. In this letter Mustafa Kemal said, “I am very sorry. I am unable to make an exception for you and you will have to remain in exile. The law applies to everyone in the Imperial family.” Osman Fuad Efendi sent a reply via Muhtar Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador in Washington, saying, “If Mustafa Kemal Pasha wishes, I will come to Anatolia.” He never received a reply. This 29-year-old Ottoman prince, who had fought so bravely and loyally for his homeland and his people, was never to return to Turkey, since he died only one year before the decree of exile was lifted in 1974.

While in exile, Osman Fuad Efendi lived in many places, including Geneva, Rome, Cairo, Paris, Nice, and Cannes. When in Paris, he sometimes stayed with his elder sister Princess Âdile Sultan. He and his wife divorced after thirteen years of marriage in Paris in 1932. Life in exile was always very difficult, since members of the Imperial Ottoman family had no financial means, and all yearned to return to their country. The reputation and skill of Osman Fuad Efendi as a soldier and tactician were much admired. While Marshal Rommel was in Libya, he studied the operations carried out there by Osman and subsequently imitated these tactics in his own desert warfare. During the Second World War, Osman Fuad Efendi was living in Alexandria, Egypt, under the occupation of the British. Appreciating that he had commanded the loyalty of the Libyan people, the British offered to make him a colonel in their army and to award him full powers if he agreed to conduct a commando campaign against the Germans there. However, he refused on the grounds that he did not wish to fight against his former comrades-in-arms. When the war ended, he was given a diplomatic passport by the French government and took the opportunity to travel the world, visiting countries as far as India and Iceland.

On the death of his elder brother, Ahmed Nihad Efendi, on 4 June 1954, Osman Fuad assumed the position of head of the Ottoman family. Unlike his brother, Osman Fuad chose to adopt an extremely modern lifestyle, and was known to be fond of his pleasures and to have a natural love for life. As a young Imperial Ottoman Prince, he had been popular and well-loved, and had often been seen driving in an open-topped Mercedes in Constantinople, always dressed impeccably. He was brave, loyal, and generous, as well as being good-looking and a skilled horseman. He possessed a large number of medals and decorations awarded for his courage and service to his country, and which covered his chest when he wore his dress uniform. He was a true prince and perfectly fitted for the part he had to play. From 1911–1912 he became the fifth Chairman of Fenerbahçe SK, a club that continues to be supported by members of the Ottoman family today. Like all other members of his family, he had a talent for music. He was an accomplished violinist, and during his exile he developed his passion for music. He particularly enjoyed playing Hungarian gypsy music on his violin, much to the enthrallment of those lucky enough to hear him play.

Three years before his death, he was interviewed by a reporter from the Hürriyet newspaper named Doğan Uluç. At the time, Osman Fuad Efendi was living in Room Number 6 at the Hotel Royal Bretagne in Montparnasse, Paris. This room contained only a bed, a cracked washbasin and two chairs. His description of the life the members of the Imperial family were leading in exile was a graphic one, and shocking. “Who would have thought it would come to this? Who would have thought that General Prince Osman Fuad, the former commander of the Ottoman army in Tripoli, would one day be thrown out of a third-rate hotel in Paris as he could not afford to pay the bill? No longer can we set foot in the land which our forefathers fought for and ruled over, that land that holds so many bitter-sweet memories for us. Is it right that we should be treated thus? How shameful that the Ottoman family should be living out their days far from their native country, forced to take refuge in foreign lands. Some of us have committed suicide, unable to bear the poverty and destitution. Some of us have died whispering “Ah, Turkey! Turkey!” with our last breaths. Our children, born abroad, go to foreign schools and grow up without learning Turkish, knowing nothing of our history or our religion – just as if they were foreigners. What I would request from you is that you should print a photograph of me in your newspaper when I leave this world. Under it, write ‘Osman Fuad’ – no more than that. It may be that some people will remember me.”


Faud died at Nice, France, following a short illness on 19 May 1973 and is buried in the Moslem cemetery, Bobigny, Paris. Although he had no children, he was particularly close to his only nephew Prince Ali Vasib Efendi, and as such he treated his nephew's son Prince Osman Selaheddin Osmanoğlu as if he was his own, naming him as his heir.

Family tree

Showing the line of descent from the founder of the Ottoman dynasty to present day through the male descendants of Sultan Murad V


  1. Almanach de Gotha (184th ed.). Almanach de Gotha. 2000. pp. 365, 912–915.
  2. Burke's Royal Families of the World (2 ed.). Burke's Peerage. 1980. p. 247.


Osman Fuad
Born: 24 February 1895 Died: 19 May 1973
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Ahmed Nihad
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
4 June 1954 – 19 May 1973
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1922
Succeeded by
Mehmed Abdulaziz
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