Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 16:17 UK

'Last Ottoman' dies in Istanbul

By Roger Hardy
Middle East analyst

Ertugrul Osman and his wife, Zeynep, file pic from March 2007
Osman spent most of his years living modestly in New York

Ertugrul Osman - the would-be sultan known in Turkey as the "last Ottoman" - has died in Istanbul at the age of 97.

Osman would have been sultan of the Ottoman Empire had Turkey's modern republic not been created in the 1920s.

As the last surviving grandson of Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, he would have been known as his Imperial Highness Prince Shehzade Ertugrul Osman Effendi.

Born in Istanbul in 1912, Osman spent most of his years living modestly in New York.

No political ambition

He was a 12-year-old at school in Vienna when he heard the news that his family was being expelled by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the soldier who founded the modern Turkish republic out of the ashes of the old empire.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, file photo from 1937
Osman would have been sultan had Ataturk, pictured, not founded Turkey

Osman eventually settled in New York, where for more than 60 years he lived in a flat above a restaurant.

Always insisting he had no political ambition, he only returned to Turkey in the early 1990s at the invitation of the government.

During the visit, he went to Dolmabahce - the palace by the Bosphorus where he had played as a child.

Characteristically, he joined a tour group in order to avoid any red-carpet treatment.

Ertugrul Osman is survived by his wife, Zeynep, a relative of the last king of Afghanistan.

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