Humaira Begum

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Humaira Begum
JFKWHP-KN-C29838 (cropped).jpg
Humaira Begum at the White House with her husband, Mohammed Zahir Shah.
Queen consort of Afghanistan
Tenure 8 November 1933 – 17 July 1973
Installation 8 November 1933
Predecessor Mah Parwar Begum
Successor Monarchy abolished (Zamina Begum as First Lady of Afghanistan)
Born 24 July 1918
Emirate of Afghanistan
Died 26 June 2002(2002-06-26) (aged 83)
Rome, Italy
Burial Maranjan Hill
Spouse Mohammed Zahir Shah
Issue Princess Bilqis Begum
Prince Muhammed Akbar Khan
Crown Prince Ahmad Shah Khan
Princess Maryam Begum
Prince Muhammed Nadir Khan
Prince Shah Mahmoud Khan
Prince Muhammed Daoud Pashtunyar Khan
Prince Mir Wais Khan
House Barakzai
Father Sardar Ahmad Shah Khan
Mother Zarin Begum
Religion Sunni Islam

Humaira Begum (24 July 1918 – 26 June 2002) (Pashto: حميرا بېگم) [1] was the wife and first cousin of King Mohammed Zahir Shah and the last Queen consort of Afghanistan.


Humaira Begum was the daughter of Sardar Ahmad Shah Khan and his first wife Zarin Begum. She married her first cousin, the Crown Prince of Afghanistan Mohammed Zahir on 7 November 1931 in Kabul.[2] Together they had six sons and two daughters:

  1. Princess Bilqis Begum (born 17 April 1932).
  2. Prince Muhammed Akbar Khan (4 August 1933 – 26 November 1942).
  3. Crown Prince Ahmad Shah (born 23 September 1934).
  4. Princess Maryam Begum (born 2 November 1936).
  5. Prince Muhammed Nadir Khan (born 21 May 1941).
  6. Prince Shah Mahmoud Khan (15 November 1946 – 7 December 2002).
  7. Prince Muhammed Daoud Pashtunyar Khan (born 14 April 1949).
  8. Prince Mir Wais Khan (born 7 January 1957).

Queen of Afghanistan[edit]

On 8 November 1933 after the assassination of her father in law Mohammed Nadir Shah her husband was proclaimed King and Humaira became Queen of Afghanistan.

In 1946 Queen Humaira created the Women's Society which was the first ever women's institute in Afghanistan. In 1959 she supported the call by the Prime minister Mohammed Daoud Khan for women to voluntary remove their veil by removing her own.[3]


In 1973, while her husband was in Italy undergoing eye surgery as well as therapy for lumbago, his cousin and former Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud Khan staged a coup d'état and established a republican government. Daoud Khan had been removed from office by Zahir Shah a decade earlier. In the August following this coup, Zahir Shah abdicated rather than risk an all-out civil war.

Humaira and Zahir Shah spent their twenty-nine years in exile in Italy living in a relatively modest four-bedroom villa in the affluent community of Olgiata on Via Cassia, north of the city of Rome. The king never had feathered any nests in foreign bank accounts, and he depended on the generosity of friends.


Just weeks before she was to return to Afghanistan and be reunited with her husband who recently had returned, Begum was admitted to hospital with breathing problems and heart trouble and died two days later.[4]

Her body was returned to Afghanistan and was greeted at the airport by military personnel, tribal representatives in traditional robes, and cabinet ministers from Hamid Karzai's government. Memorial and funeral services were also held for her in two Kabul mosques. Her remains were buried in the Royal Mausoleum in Kabul.[5]


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]



  1. ^ Royal Ark
  2. ^ Genealogy
  3. ^ Morgan, Robin (1996). Sisterhood is Global. Feminist Press. p. 40. ISBN 1-55861-160-6. 
  4. ^ "Afghan king's wife dies in Rome". BBC. 27 June 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  5. ^ "Ex-queen buried in Afghanistan". BBC. 30 June 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  6. ^ Royal Ark
  7. ^ Getty Images
  8. ^ Royal Ark
  9. ^ Royal Ark
  10. ^ BPB
  11. ^ Royal Ark

External links[edit]

Royal titles
Preceded by
Mah Parwar Begum
Queen Consort of Afghanistan
Monarchy abolished