Princess Durru Shehvar ( 26 January 1914 – 7 February 2006) was the daughter of Abdülmecid II of the Ottoman dynasty, who was the last heir apparent to the Imperial Ottoman throne and the last Caliph of the Muslim world. She held the titles of Princess of Berar through marriage, and Imperial Princess of the Ottoman Empire by birth before the monarchy’s abolition in 1922.
The princess was born in Üsküdar, Istanbul when the Ottoman Empire was passing through its last phase. Her father, Caliph Abdülmecid II, went into exile in Paris, France after the abolition of the Caliphate by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1924.
Upon the family’s exile to France in 1924, she was sought by the Shah of Persia and King Fuad I of Egypt as a bride for their respective heirs, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and Farouk, and by Prince Azam Jah (1907–1970), the eldest son and heir of the last Nizam of Hyderabad State, Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah VII, whom she married in Nice, France, on 12 November 1931. Her first cousin Princess Niloufer, was married to Prince Moazzam Jah, the second son of the Nizam.
The marriage of the princess was performed, in the south of France, by the good offices of Maulana Shaukat Ali, brother of Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar, the leader of the Khilafat Movement in India.
It was believed at that time that the matrimonial alliance between the Nizam, the richest ruler in the world of his time, and the deposed Caliph would lead to the emergence of a Muslim ruler who could be acceptable to the world powers in place of the Ottoman sultans. Princess Durru Shahvar, whose father was raised by a branch of the Ottoman monarchy deeply interested in modernizing reforms and believed in modern education for women including his wives and daughter, became a popular public figure after her arrival in Hyderabad. She believed that women should earn their own living, and helped to remove the practice of purdah.
Following the birth of her sons Prince Mukarram Jah in 1933 and Prince Muffakham Jah in 1939, she took charge of their upbringing, the two princes being educated in Britain and also marrying Turkish ladies. The last Nizam later bypassed his own son and nominated her first son and his grandson, as his successor.
The Princess became the first woman to inaugurate an airport when she inaugurated the airport in Hyderabad in the 1940s. She is also credited with inaugurating the Osmania General Hospital. She set up the Durru Shehvar Children’s & General Hospital for women and children in the old city of Hyderabad.She also innuagrated the famous Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College Hospital at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1939. Her last public appearance in the city was when she presided over the opening ceremony of the Nizam’s Silver Jubilee Museum in 2000. She last visited Hyderabad in 2004.
She was upset about Turkish Government’s attitude against her family members after declaration of the republic. Despite being member of Ottoman royal family she refused to be buried in Turkey since she was upset that the Turkish Government refused in 1944 her father’s burial in Istanbul.
She divided her time principally between Hyderabad and London, where she died, attended by her two sons.