Princess Ashraf Pahlavi turns 90
Her Imperial Highness Princess Ashraf Pahlavi turns 90 years old today.
She was born on 26 October 1919, the second daughter and third child of the then Reza Khan Mirpanj and his wife, née Nimtaj Khanum; when Ashraf was 6, her father became Shahanshah Reza Pahlavi, Emperor of Iran, and her mother became the Queen Consort Tadj ol-Molouk.
Ashrafâ’s siblings were an older sister, Princess Shams, a twin-brother, Shahanshah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and a younger brother, Prince Ali Reza.
In 1925 her father Reza Khan was declared Shah of Iran, and during his reign – between 1925 and 1941 – he pursued a politic of strong modernisation, introducing several economic and social reforms, among whom was the increasing of civil and political rights for the women; this politic was proceeded after Reza Shah’s deposition in 1941 by his son Mohammed Reza Shah, who tried to approach Iran to the Western World through the so-called “White Revolution.”
Princess Ashraf grew up supporting this politic, and taking an active part in it. She was, as well as her sister Princess Shams, one of the first women to discard the veil in Iran; she devoted to welfare and social work activities, becoming Vice-President of the Imperial Organization for Social Services and President of the High Council of the Iranian Women’s Association, promoting of these organizations to reach their aims in the cultural, health, educational, legal, and social fields.
The Princess has also been for several years at the United Nations as a member and then as head of the Iranian delegation, and as a member of the Human Rights Commission, of the Commission on the Status of Women and of the Consultative Committee of International Women’s Year Conference; she also has been member of the International Consultative Liaison Committee for Literacy of the UNESCO.
Princess Ashraf often defines herself as “inextricably tied” to her twin brother, the Shah; she was said to be the only person able to change the Shah’s mind. In 1953 the American and British governments asked her to persuade the Shah to allow them to start the “Operation Ajax”, in which the CIA deposed the government of the nationalist Mohammed Mosaddeq and replaced him with General Fazlollah Zahedi; the Shah originally opposed the operation, but he was effectively persuaded to allow it by Ashraf (who, at the time, Mosaddeq had sent into exile in France).
Princess Ashraf married three times: firstly to Ali Qavam, secondly to Ahmad Shafiq and thirdly to Mehdi Bushehri; she had three children: a son, Shahram Pahlavi-Nia, from the first marriage, and another son, Shahriar, and a daughter, Azadeh, from the second marriage. On 7 December 1979 her son Shahriar, an imperial Navy captain, was murdered by one of the Islamic government’s agents in Paris, where he was organizing a resistance movement against the Islamic revolutionaries.
The Princess, according to what she wrote in her autobiography Faces in the Mirror, suffered of a low self-esteem when she was young, whishing “for someone else’s face”, “fairer skin, and more height”; she was called “La Panthere Noire” (The Black Panther) by a French journalist, and she likes this name that suits her: “Like the panther, – she wrote – my nature is turbulent, rebellious, self-confident. Often, it is only through strenuous effort that I maintain my reserve and my composure in public. But in truth , I sometimes wish I were armed with the panther’s claws so that I might attack the enemies of my country.”
After the 1979 Iranian revolution that dethroned her brother the Shah, Princess Ashraf moved to Paris, where she still lives; she is the oldest member of her family still alive, and the last living of her siblings since the death of Princess Shams in 1996.Iranian Royals
Tagged Biography, Birthday, Pahlavi Dynasty, Princess Ashraf.