Last King of Afghanistan Dead at 92
Zahir Shah reigned for 40 years, returned from exile after occupation
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2007 7:50 AM CDT
Afghan President Hamid Karzai announces the death of Afghanistan's former king Mohammad Zahir Shah to the media at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 23, 2007. Shah, the last...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The former king of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, has died at the age of 92. Zahir Shah's 40-year reign ended along with the Afghan monarchy in a 1973 coup, and many Afghans have come to look back at the period as a time of peace, prosperity, and modernization. After living in exile in Italy for 29 years, the former king returned his homeland in 2002.

Zahir Shah ascended to the throne when he was only 19. During his rule, he opened up Afghanistan to Western contact, gave women the vote, and founded the country's first modern university. He was deposed by his cousin while in Italy receiving medical treatment.  Many Afghans still regard him as the "father of the nation."