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Aga Khan's 'Red Rose' buried-2000-07-01

Saturday, 2000, July 1

If the Aga Khan's widow could not lay flowers, the gardener did A former French beauty queen who married the late Aga Khan lll has been buried beside her husband, upon whose tomb she had regularly laid a red rose since his death 43 years ago.

The body of Begum Om Habibeh, who started life as Yvette Blanche Labrousse, was carried in a white-shrouded coffin to the sandstone mausoleum on the banks of the Nile.

She was the fourth and last wife of the late spiritual leader of the Shiite Muslim Ismaili community. They had no children.

The Egyptian sun beat down on the funeral procession led by the current Aga Khan, Prince Karim.

The body had arrived earlier on a flight from France, where she died on Saturday in the Riviera town of Le Cannet at the age of 94.

Red Rose
The Begum, an Urdu word for a woman married to Muslim royalty, was remembered as the "Red Rose" because of the daily ritual she had followed ever since her husband's death in 1957.

She used to place a rose on his tomb every day during the winters she spent in Egypt, and arranged for the gardener to carry out the task when she was away or too ill to go.

Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan was the 48th Imam and grandfather of the current Aga Khan.

As an adviser to the British monarchs, he was considered the richest man in the world and was offered his weight in diamonds on his diamond jubilee in 1945.


Sheikh Sayed Ahmed Ibrahim, who has visited the mausoleum daily to read prayers from the Koran said: "She was a generous woman and she respected Islam."

She was known for her interest in the welfare of women, the poor and the elderly.

Acording to her wish, Om Habibeh was laid beside her husband in the marble Fatimid Islamic style tomb - she had had his name and her own inscribed on the walls.

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