The government severely limited the authority of the sultan, so Mehmet was largely a ceremonial figure.
Mehmet was sixty-four years old and had spent the previous forty-eight years in the Cage – which in his case was a luxurious apartment in Dolmabah棠Palace. Once he became sultan he moved into the sultan’s apartments in Dolmabah棬 which once again became the main imperial residence. The government severely limited the authority of the sultan, so Mehmet was largely a ceremonial figure. His budget was drastically reduced and soon Dolmabah棠and the other imperial palaces began to look dilapidated.
The Ottoman Empire went to war with Italy in 1911, followed by the two Balkan wars of 1912 – 1913. The CUP had by then taken control of the Ottoman government under the triumvirate of Talat, Cemal and Enver who, in the autumn of 1914 brought Turkey into the First World War on the side of Germany. This proved fatal to the Empire which four years later went down in defeat with Germany.
By this time the sultan was becoming frail and his only comment on the effect that the Great War had upon his life as sultan was “The Palace excelled in two things, prayer and food; both have gone off.”
In the early summer of 1918 he moved to Yildiz Palace as was his custom during the summer months. He died there of heart failure on 3 July 1918 and the next day was buried at Eyüp – the last of the imperial Ottoman sultans to be interred in his own country. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Mehmet VI Vahidettin, the last surviving son of Abdül Mecit.