Former Sultan of Zanzibar leaves Portsmouth after 50 years by the seaside

The former monarch, 91, had previously been turned down when he asked to retire in Oman

The exile of the Sultan of Zanzibar Seyyid Jamshid Bin Abdullah arriving in London in 1964
The exile of the Sultan of Zanzibar Seyyid Jamshid Bin Abdullah arriving in London in 1964 Credit:  www.bridgemanimages.com

The balmy climes of England's South Coast have long been a popular retirement home for many pensioners. But after more than half a century of living quietly in Portsmouth, one of the coast’s more illustrious OAPs has decided that it is finally time for a change.

The Sultan of Zanzibar, 91, has been esconced in Portsmouth ever since a popular revolt deposed him from the east African island back in 1964.

Distantly related to the monarchs of the Gulf Sultanate of Oman, he was part of a long line of Omanis who had ruled over Zanzibar for nearly three centuries.

For the last 56 years, he has enjoyed a low-profile life in a modest house in the Portsmouth suburb of Southsea - known for its beaches and piers, if less so for its exiled monarchs.

On Monday, though, he jetted off to spend his final days in his ancestral homeland of Oman, which has finally granted him his long-standing request to retire.

While the Omani government has not officially commented on the move, it is understood that it had previously blocked Mr Abdullah's return on security grounds.

The Sultan has spent decades in the UK Credit: www.bridgemanimages.com

Tens of thousands of his former subjects live in the country after being granted citizenship in the 1970s and 1980s, and there were fears that his return might alter Oman's delicate politics.

“It is a private matter and we do not wish to announce it,” one government official told The National, the UAE-based English-language newspaper that first reported the move.

Yusuf Al-Shibly, 74, an Omani who was born in Zanzibar and now lives in Omani capital, Muscat, told The National: “We are delighted that Sultan Jamshid will be with us in the country in his last days. We are also grateful for the government of Oman to grant him his wish to retire here, which I think is based on humanitarian reasons.“

Mr Abdullah is a distant relative of the present sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tarek, 64.

When he first arrived in Britain after the revolt in Zanzibar, he had an entourage of more than 60 staff and enjoyed a £1,500 per month allowance from the British government, which retained Zanzibar as a protectorate from 1890-1963.

After staying in two London hotels, a house was found for him at Southsea where he moved in with about a dozen royal retainers.  The move will be a chance to be closer to his sister, brother and seven children, who headed to Oman in the 1980s