Portsmouth loses its resident monarch after exiled Sultan of Zanzibar leaves after 50 years

Portsmouth has lost its resident monarch now that a former deposed leader of an East African island has left the UK after more than 50 years in exile.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 4:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 10:37 am

Sayyid Jamshid bin Abdullah, the last sultan of Zanzibar, was deposed in 1964 and has lived a modest life in Southsea ever since.

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But the 91-year-old former sultan, who was removed from his throne by a popular African revolt, had his request to retire to Oman - where thousands of his former subjects live - guaranteed by the government.

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People from Zanzibar consider Oman to be their ancestral home as the island was ruled by Oman from 1698 to 1890.

A spokesman for the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council posted on Twitter: ‘Portsmouth has lost its only resident monarch. Sayyid Jamshid bin Abdullah, the last Sultan of Zanzibar, who was until recently living in a small house in Southsea, has retired to Oman.’

Mr Abdullah was expected to arrive in Muscat from the United Kingdom on Monday, according to Middle East newspaper The National.

Mr Abdullah had been refused retirement in Oman repeatedly in the past for security reasons. He is said to be distantly related to the present sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tarek.

The Sultan of Zanzibar

According to an article in The New York Times in 1964, a penniless Mr Abdullah received a payment of £100,000 from the British government after his move to Portsmouth along with a £1,500 monthly allowance.

He arrived in the UK with an entourage of 61 relatives, friends and household staff. After staying in two London hotels, a house was found for him at Southsea where he moved in with about a dozen close followers.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

South Parade Pier, Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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A feature on the Sultan of Zanzibar published in The News in 2004.