Naser al-Din Shah belonged to the Qajar dynasty and ruled during the 19th century. Slowly, his country began to descend into chaos, caught between the competing pressures of England and Russia. He was a very open sovereign. He visited Europe and was well received, he knew how to please. Following the example of his predecessors, and as seen in this photograph, he covered his uniform with enormous precious stones, most notably diamonds and emeralds. He was eventually assassinated and remains a legendary figure in Iranian history.
Sultan Abdul Aziz, one of the last Ottoman Sultans. He was a profoundly original man. He bestowed with the highest Ottoman decoration upon his favorite rooster, the victor of a cock fight. He was crazy about music; when taking his walks through the garden he had a pianist playing for him on a piano carried by slaves.
King Chulalongkorn of Thailand was the ruler depicted in the famous operetta The King and I, which recounts the story of an English Governess charged with taking care of the king’s countless children. He was the great king of the 19th century and opened his country to foreigners. He himself visited Europe, and was photograph with my French grandfather, the Duke of Guise, after having been with the Tsar.
What horrors are not said of this Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, nicknamed the Red Sultan or Abdul the Damned. In my book, “The Last Sultan”, I try to set the record straight and expose the truth about this remarkable, shockingly intelligent, and ludic man who was the last great ruler of a remarkable dynasty.
We often forget that the French colonists overthrew a number of monarchies. They did it in Madagascar. They also did it on the dreamlike island of Tahiti, where a strong and beloved dynasty had ruled, represented by their last sovereign, the magnificent, long-haired Queen Pomare, pictured above, who was chased from her throne and died in exile.
Sultana Melek of Egypt was born into the Khedive dynasty, which began with the fabulous Muhammad Ali Pasha in the early 19th century. She married the Khedive Hassan who, with the benediction of the English, became the first and last Sultan of Egypt. Very open and cultivated, an international woman, Sultana Melek became a dear friend to my grandmother, the Duchess of Guise, when she came to the bedside of her dying daughter Anne, who eventually survived.