Dündar Abdülkerim Osmanoğlu, the last heir to the throne of the now-defunct Ottoman Empire, passed away late Monday at the age of 90, the family said in a statement.
“Father of our family and the Ottoman dynasty, our uncle Prince Dündar Abdülkerim Osmanoğlu passed away in Syria’s Damascus,” Orhan Osmanoğlu, a member of the family said in a tweet. “May his soul rest in peace,” he added.
Osmanoğlu, was living alone in Damascus where he was born after his parents were expelled from Turkey upon the abolition of the caliphate in 1924. His wife Yüsra Osmanoğlu had died in 2017. The descendants of the Ottoman dynasty living in Turkey long sought to bring the fragile dynasty member from Syria, which cut off ties with Turkey amid the ongoing war. Osmanoğlu is the grandson of Prince Mehmet Selim Efendi, son of Abdülhamid II, the legendary Ottoman sultan credited with prolonging the survival of the Ottoman Empire, which was well past its glory days in the last years of the 19th century. As the oldest member, he was the head of the family of sultans' grandchildren since the 2017 death of Osman Bayezid Osmanoğlu, the son of Ibrahim Tevfik, who was the grandson of Sultan Abdülmecid I.
The Ottoman dynasty's descendants were forced to scatter around the world after the collapse of the empire and they were sent into exile starting from 1924.
In 1952, female members of the dynasty were granted amnesty and the men were allowed to return to Turkey in 1974. Yet, few returned to Turkey as most of them had already built new lives after living abroad for decades. Osmanoğlu's father, Mehmed Abdülkerim Efendi, had settled in Beirut, Lebanon, during the exile of the dynasty's members, before he moved to Damascus where he died in 1935, survived by his two children and wife. Dündar Abdülkerim Osmanoğlu's brother Harun returned to Turkey in 1974 and resided in Istanbul. Eighty-eight-year-old Harun Osmanoğlu will now be the new head of the Ottoman family.