Biography of Soraya Tarzi

Queen Soraya Tarzi

S. Ghilzai
February 3, 2016

Soraya Tarzi was the Queen of Afghanistan from February 28, 1919 to January 14, 1929.

Soraya Tarzi was born on the 24th of November 1899, in Damascus, then part of the Ottoman Empire. She is the daughter of Asma Rasmiya, and Mahmud Tarzi, the famed intellectual and politician, who supported the modernization of Afghanistan. The Tarzi family is from the Pashtun Barakzai tribe. Educated by her father, Queen Soraya met King Amanullah Khan when the Tarzi family moved back to Afghanistan, as Amanullah Khan’s father, the then Amir, Habibullah Khan, had urged Afghan exiles to return to the country. The pair had a connection and wed in 1913.

When Amanullah Khan became king in 1919, Queen Soraya became his comrade in arms, becoming an influential figure in not just the Muslim world, but the entire world. Queen Soraya was always by her husband’s side at national events, hunting parties, cabinet meetings, wounded soldiers tents during the war of Independence, and even to dangerous, rebellious provinces. She was the first Muslim consort to appear in public with her husband. King Amanullah Khan even appointed her as the Minister of Education. In 1928, she received an honorary degree from Oxford University.

Queen Soraya was a compassionate Queen and worked hard in aspects of women’s rights, and education. However, the monarchy was modernizing Afghanistan at a fast pace, that some of the more traditional provinces couldn’t handle- so in fear of a rebellion, King Amanullah Khan abdicated and the family went on to live in exile in Rome, Italy. Queen Soraya died at the age of 68 in Rome, and was buried in the Bagh-e-Shaheed mausoleum in Jalalabad, next to King Amanullah Khan.

Photos of Queen Soraya

Queen Soraya on a horse
Queen Soraya and King Amanullah Khan
Queen Soraya and King Amanullah Khan in Europe
Queen Soraya and King Amanullah during their European tour
Queen Soraya and King Amanullah in traditional Afghan clothes
Mausoleum of Queen Soraya and King Amanullah Khan

More Afghan Biographies