Princess Kholle spent most of her life in the lavish Palace Beit il Sahel. Each of the Sultans Palaces had many residents including relatives, eunuchs, slaves, and all of the Sultan's wives & children from a variety of cultures.
Palace gardens were beautifully landscaped with lush vegetation and grand water features. Exotic animals like peacocks, flamingos, ostriches and gazelle roamed freely behind the walls of the palace gardens.To feed the hundreds of residents at the palaces, cooks worked round the clock bringing in thousands of pounds of imported delights daily.
Princess Kholle and her siblings would spend their days horse-back riding, embroidering, bathing, reading, eating, and praying.The Turkish baths were a favorite place to be and were filled with people for most of the day and into the night, lounging in them for many hours each day while praying, working, reading, eating and even sleeping in them!
Princess Sayyidat Kholle, was considered a woman of rare beauty. Her charming manners, grace and bright spirits earned her the nickname "Njidjm il Subh" or "Morning Star".*
Born in 1828, she was the daughter of Sayyid Said bin Sultan Al-Busaid, the Sultan of Oman and the 1st Sultan of Zanzibar. Her mother was an Assyrian from Mesopotamia. Her famous siblings include Princess Salme and Sayyid Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid.
She was favored by her father and appointed superintendant of multiple palaces in his absence. Although this inspired jealousy in some siblings, she was renowned for her sweet temper and fairness to both family and servants.
As all royalty were required to live in one of the many palaces during her father's life, this did not prevent her from acquiring property. Princess Kholle purchased one of the finest clove plantations with a beautiful palace called Sebe. There she kept some of the rarest exotic plants in the world. She also built Kholle House in Stone Town to display her most valued collectables and entertain her family, friends and visitors.
*From Princess Salme's “Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar”.
Sayyid Said bin Sultan Al-Said was Princess Kholle's father and the First Sultan of Zanzibar.
His rise to power began in 1804 upon the death of his father Sultan bin Ahmed who was the Sultan of Oman. He jointly ruled Oman with his brother Salim for two years until he successfully took control becoming the sole Sultan of Oman.
In 1832 he made Zanzibar his home after conquering Mombasa, Kenya. He decided to move the capital of his empire from Muscat, Oman to Stone Town, Zanzibar thus becoming the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar.
During his reign on the island he built many palaces and gardens. He also dramatically improved the islands economy by promoting clove cultivation. His legacy lives on as Zanzibar is still renowned for its cloves and is the number one producer in the world today contributing to its famous nick-name "Spice Island".
He ruled Oman and Zanzibar from the island until his death in 1856.
Sayyid Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid
Sultan of Zanzibar from 1870 - 1888.
Sayyid Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid was Princess Kholle's brother and Sultan of Zanzibar. Sultan Barghash is best known for modernizing Stone Town by creating an infrastructure with hospitals, roads, piped water systems, a police force, and administrative buildings like the famous House of Wonders. He also signed the agreement with Britain to end the slave trade and slave markets in Zanzibar.
Before becoming Sultan, Barghash had a bitter battle for power with his brother Majid who had taken control of Zanzibar upon the death of their father. Barghash was Princess Kholle's idol and she was deeply devoted to him. Through clever planning and acts of bravery, Princess Kholle and Princess Salme assisted Barghash in his fight to become Sultan.
Barghash was eventually defeated and left Zanzibar until Majid's death when he returned as the Sultan of Zanzibar. This fued would prove too much for the royal family with siblings changing loyalties and ending the relationship between Princess Salme and Princess Kholle.
Princess Kholle was Princess Salme's most adored sister.
Princess Salme is best known for her auto-biography "Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar". Salme taught herself writing in secret as a child which resulted in this rich memoir that provides great insight into what Princess Kholle's life was really like behind the walls of the Sultan's Palace.
After her father's death, there was a power struggle between her brothers Majid and Bhargash. Salme later kept relations with Majid resulting in a divide between her and Kholle and a lifetime of bitter feelings from her brother Barghash.
Salme fell in love with and married a German merchant. Leaving Zanzibar to begin a new life in Germany she changed her name to Emily Ruete. After only 3 years, an accident killed her husband and left her alone with 3 children.
Barghash, who was then Sultan, prevented her from returning to her residence in Zanzibar leaving her to fend for herself in a new world without being allowed her inheritance.