Prayers were held Sunday for Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, a senior member of the royal family who supported women's rights and once led a group of dissident princes, who died at the age of 87. Prince Talal was an older brother to King Salman and the son of the founder and first ruler of modern Saudi Arabia, the late King Abdulaziz, whose sons have ruled since his death, with the throne passing from brother to brother. Prince Talal's son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal, announced on Twitter that his father passed away Saturday, reports the AP. Prince Talal served as communications minister in the 1950s and finance minister in the early 1960s. In 1957, Prince Talal founded the first school for girls in Riyadh, according to Saudi newspaper Arab News. The school was founded at a time when females had no access to formal education in the landlocked capital and schools were open to boys only.
Soon after he was appointed finance minister, he struck out and led a group of princes who called for a constitutional monarchy that distributes some of the king's powers. The royals, who became known as the Free Princes Movement, called for a constitution to govern the kingdom, rather than rules based solely on clerical interpretation of the Quran and other religious doctrine. Prince Talal led the group from Beirut and Cairo, which under Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was an adversary of Riyadh. The prince was stripped of his nationality and his assets were seized. After rifts emerged between Prince Talal and Cairo, he was allowed to return to Saudi Arabia in 1964 under King Faisal, who had deposed his brother King Saud that year. Prince Talal served until 2011 as a member of the Allegiance Council, a body of senior princes who choose the next king among themselves.
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