22 August 2011

Time for Crown Prince Sayyid Muhammad to go home?

We have heard for quite some time now that the days of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya are numbered, and following the developments in the last few days, with the rebels now taking control over most parts of the capital Tripoli, we seem to getting closer and closer to a de facto change of government. At last!

The chairman of the Transitional National Council, Mustafa Muhammed Abdul Jalil, is expected to become the Libyan nation's new leader, at least until elections are held.

The head of the former Libyan Royal Family, Crown Prince Sayyid Muhammad, b. 1962, a grand-nephew of King Idris (1889-1951-1969-1983), lives in exile in London. As soon as the rebels have taken absolute control over Tripoli and the security situation is solved, the Crown Prince is expected to return to his homeland. It is in my opinion little chance of a restoration, and it is unclear what kind of role the Crown Prince will be able to play, but at least he finally gets the opportunity to come home again. The Crown Prince has figured in the media from time to time this year. After my last blog article on Libya in March 2011, he has created an official website, http://mohammedelsenussi.org/, but unfortunately he hasn't been able to update it regularly.

Another website worth mentioning is 24 Dec 1951. The name of the website refers to the day when the United Libyan Monarchy was proclaimed. It has proven too difficult to find out who is behind the website, but it contains lots of interesting historical information about the monarchy and the Senussi dynasty.

There are many members of the Sanussi family who are already involved or will be taking part one way or another in the construction of a (hopefully) democratic Libya. I have already mentioned the Crown Prince as well as Sayyid Ahmad Mindas al-Sanussi, who is or at least was a member of the above-mentioned Transitional National Council. Yet another member is Prince Muhammed Hilal, who wrote a piece for The Washington Post on 17 March 2011, soon after his return to Libya after 41 years in exile. He is by the newspaper described as a grand-nephew of King Idris, but I believe there must be a mix-up with the Crown Prince. According to both The Royal Ark and Genealogical Gleanings the relationship seems to be more distant, unless there is a cognatic connection that I haven't figured out yet.

For the main line of the Sanussi family, see The Royal Ark, page 6.



  1. I guess the key question is whether the monarchy (or at least the dynasty) could be a force for unity as the people of Libya try to reconstruct state institutions, or a source of division. I read an article a couple of weeks ago saying that there is support for the monarchy - even for a restoration - in the dynasty's traditional heartland in the east. I haven't seen anything about whether those in the west and south would be open to a role for the Crown Prince and his family. It's been interesting that the rebels have been using the flag and national anthem of the Kingdom, but, given that that is the only previous regime of united Libya, they don't have much choice. On the other hand, it could be a sign that a restored, figurehead king might also be a rallying point. I would love to see comments on this by people who know Libya well.

  2. I have followed this conflict fairly closely and I have never heard anyone suggest that there is a real possibility for or even a wish for the restoration of the country's short-lived monarchy. Apparently this has not been an issue and it seems to me the use of "the flag and national anthem of the Kingdom" is not so much that as the use of the non-Gaddafi symbols.