Homaira Shah had planned to travel to Afghanistan in the next few weeks to rejoin her husband, who ended 29 years of exile in Rome earlier this year.
But after suffering from fevers in recent days, she was taken to a hospital with breathing problems two days ago. The former Afghan queen died Wednesday of cardiac arrest.
The wife of former Afghan King Zahir Shah had lived in Rome with her husband since his cousin ousted him from power in a 1973 coup. He had ruled Afghanistan for 40 years, during which he gained a reputation as a calm modernizer.
Zahir Shah ended his exile in April, when he returned to his country as an ordinary citizen. Many Afghans saw his return as the definitive end of the Taleban era and two decades of war that plagued the country.
The former monarch returned to convene a traditional tribal assembly, or Loya Jirga, which ended earlier this month, selecting interim leader Hamid Karzai to rule Afghanistan until elections are held.
Former Queen Homaira did not return to Afghanistan with her husband because of her deteriorating health. However, she was planning to join him, and was waiting for Zahir Shah to move into a new house in Kabul.
The family is planning to take her body back to the Afghan capital for burial. Homaira Shah will be buried in the royal tomb on a hill overlooking Kabul. (Signed)