Soraya Estafandiary: Queen and later Princess of Iran (1932-2001)

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Oct 24, 2003
Serbia and Montenegro
Close-Up Of Queen Soraya In A Car

Original caption: 2/17/1955-London, England- This afternoon the Shah and Queen Soraya of Persia went to Clarence House with Her Majesty Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Later this evening they will dine with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Queen Soraya of Persia arrives with the Shah at Clarence House.


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Soraya Estafandiary: Queen and later Princess of Iran

Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiary 'the princess with a sad eyes' was the first wife of former Iranian Shah Reza Pahlavi. She was beautiful and glamurous, still she couldn't give to Shah so wanted children and the marriage had to end. This one happens to be one of the most romantic and sad royal love stories of the past century. They say their love never died despite the fact that they was forced to devorce.

She bacame a prominent member of high society. She died, by some sources - from the broken heart, in Paris.

Please post photos and articals about Princess Soraya here. Thank you. :flower:
Close-Up Of Queen Soraya In A Car

Original caption: 2/17/1955-London, England- This afternoon the Shah and Queen Soraya of Persia went to Clarence House with Her Majesty Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Later this evening they will dine with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Queen Soraya of Persia arrives with the Shah at Clarence House.


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I thought that she was the second wife of Shah and first wife was Princess Fawzia of Egypt. Am I confused?
thought that she was the second wife of Shah and first wife was Princess Fawzia of Egypt. Am I confused?

I truly don't know Asma2, I'm sorry. I've been doing some research now in other to fill up the gaps in my historical knowledge... :( :unsure: :blush:

I believe you are most probably right - I was wondering to whom Princess Fawzia was married to? There are so little information about her and I guess she was forgotten in a way. I apologize. :flower:
AS far as I can remember princess Fawziah was the first wife of the Shah and then he married Soraya Esfandiary, the daughter of a Persian and a German lady. She was quite popular in Germany and she was indeed called the princess with the sad eyes.
The Shah seems to have been quite a ruthless man. He divorced his first two wives because they couldn't produce an heir to the throne.
maybe its just me but i think that Princess Soraya does have a certain sad look to her face...
Hmm. hard to say.. Maybe there was quite alot of pressure on him to produce an heir..His first marriage however, wasn't childless as Fawzia bore him a daughter, Shahnaz..In the end though it all didn't matter as he had to leave his country anyway and I don't think there is a big chance for his son to succeed him on the throne.
I remember watching a Barbara Walters interview of the Shah...this is when he was still on the throne i believe, and he made some really sexist comments, something about women not having accomplished as much as men. And all this time, his wife was sitting next to him, tears streaming down her face. I saw the interview clip on a Barbara Walters special a couple of years ago so i dont remember if he was married to Empress Farah at the time.
She was Soraya Esfandiari, not Kashoggi, who is a business man..... her tribe, from which she descended from, as a very important 1- we could all watch her life on TV in a TV movie here in Italy- maybe u know she did live in Rome for along time after her divorce, and fell in love with an Italian film-maker who died young in a plane- crash.
She was Soraya Esfandiari, not Kashoggi, who is a business man.....

Yes, you are right Shannen26, thank you :flower:. She tryly was born as Soraya Esfandiary, yet, in her older yers she was known as Soraya Khashoggi. Most of her later pics on are titled this way.


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A gardener clears autumn leaves from the grave site of former Persian Duke Khalil Esfandiary-Bakhtiary and his wife Duchess Eva in Munich, 07 November 2001. Former Iranian Empress princess Soraya, daughter of the couple, is due to be buried in this family grave here next week. The princess died 26 October 2001 at the age of 69 in her Paris apartment. AFP PHOTO DPA/FRANK MAECHLER


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Soraya Khashoggi


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Original caption: Portrait of Princess Soraya.

Original caption: Princess Soraya and the Shah of Iran in the country.

The Shah and Empress of Iran at their Wedding
Original caption: 2/15/1951-Teheran, Iran-Carrying a bouquet of carnations, newlywed Soraya Isfandiari, 19, poses with her husband, the Shah of Iran, after the religious ceremony of marriage at Marmar Palace. Hundreds of foreign diplomats atended the royal wedding, and among the gifts received by the couple is a mink coat from Stalin, valued at $150,000.

Empress Soraya of Iran
Original caption: Queen Soraya, the Empress of Iran, wearing a beaded dress with diamond earrings, necklace, and bracelet.


Soraya ...

Princess with a sad eyes...

Actors Soraya and Richard Harris

A scene from the 1965 Italian Film, I Tre Volti, also known as The Three Faces of a Woman, stars Richard Harris and Soraya, empress of Iran from 1951 to 1958.

Queen Soraya ans Shah of Iran
Original caption: Polka dots seem to be the fashion favorite of Queen Soraya and the Shah of Iran. Her Husband is wearing. On a visit to India, the royal cuople were waiting to lay a wreath at Ghandhi's tomb at Rajghat.

Original caption: The diamond engagement ring of the late Iranian Princess Soraya is displayed May 28, 2002, ahead of an auction in Paris. The ring, which was given to the princess by the Shah of Iran in 1950, is made of a 22.37 carat diamond and is estimated to fetch between 400,000 and 500,000 euros ($370,177 and $462,737). Some 1,000 items from the princess' Paris apartment will be sold during the three-day auction which starts on Wednesday. Princess Soraya died in October last year. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer


All pictures from corbis


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Thanks for posting all the nice pics of princess Soraya.

I just did an extensive dearch on the net with the last name you provided us with as I did remember that the Shah's ex-wife never carried the name Khashoggi.And it looks like some part of memory is still working.:) Soraya Khashoggi is a different lady, still very much alive and known for her huge divorce settlement from arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. Seems like she is quite a socialite and I remember reading about her in the eighties..I tried finding a pic of her but all the links were too busy trying to point out her record divorce settlement.:) According to the links she is now 57.
You are very welcome Beate :blush: :flower: !
And thank yuo for participating - yes, you are right - I was also very surprised to see on (my usual photo source) that quite a lot photos of former Iranian Empress Soraya were labeled/titled under the name Khashoggi. :blink: I know who Adnan Khashoggi is and I also know that he had a wife with the same name. :shock:
I guess this must of beign some mistake on, since they've got me confused, I admit. :doh: :blink: :shock:
Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari

Article last updated: 6:45am, December 14, 2003
Database last updated: 3:26am, December 18, 2003

Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari (Isfahan, Iran, June 22, 1934 - Paris, France, October 25, 2001) was the second wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. She was the daughter of Khalil Esfandiary Bakhtiari, Ambassador of Iran to the Federal Republic of Germany, and his Russian-born German wife, Eva Karl; she had one brother, Bijan Esfandiary Bakhtiari.

At the age of 17, the green-eyed Soraya, an Ava Gardner lookalike, married the Shah at Golestan Palace in Tehran on February 12, 1951 and was divorced by him on April 6, 1958, when it became apparent that she could not bear children. A weeping Shah announced their divorce to the Iranian people. The headline-making divorce inspired French songwriter Françoise Mallet-Jorris to write a pop song, "Je Veux Pleurer Comme Soraya" (I Want to Cry Like Soraya).

Granted the title Her Imperial Highness the Princess Soraya of Iran, she moved to France and launched a brief career as a film actress. She starred in the 1965 movie "Three Faces of a Woman" and became mistress of its Italian director Franco Indovina (1932-1972). After Indovina's death in a plane crash, she spent the remainder of her life unhappily, by her own admission, wandering through Europe, buying antiques and couture, appearing at social events in a desultory fashion, and generally becoming known as a serious depressive.

She died of natural causes at age 67 and is buried in Munich, Germany. In 2002, her tomb was defaced with the words "miserable parasite," followed by the phrase "Didn't work from the ages of 25 to 60." The vandalism made headlines throughout Europe.

Upon learning of her death, her brother, who died one week after Soraya, sadly commented, "After her, I don't have anyone to talk to." Since Soraya's death, several young women have come forward claiming to be her illegitimate daughter, reportedly born in 1962, according to the Iranian newspaper Nimrooz; the claims have not been confirmed.

The former Empress's belongings were sold at auction in Paris after her death. Her wedding dress, made by Christian Dior, brought $1.2 million.

Princess Soraya wrote a memoir of her tragic life, "The Palace of Solitudes" (1991).

From - Encyclopedia;
Who exactly authorized the sale of her jewels and who got the money?
Or did she leave a will saying she wanted to sell them?

Taken from: Auctions revive memory of Shah's first wife

Auctions revive memory of Shah's first wife

By Our Correspondent

PARIS, June 11: When she died late last year, relatively alone in the city where she'd spent much of the past four decades, Princess Soraya was little remembered except perhaps for having been the Iranian beauty who was repudiated by the Shah of Iran in 1958 for having been unable to provide him with a heir.

Little media coverage was accorded to her demise, perhaps because the same new generation that had never really heard of the Shah of Iran, knew even less about his first wife, Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiary.

Princess Soraya died such a lonely death that when the time came to sell off her estate, her attorney Morel d'Arleux, when he attempted to contact Tehran to see whether Iran's present authorities might not be interested in acquiring some of her royal possessions, was met with the most brutal silence.

Soraya had apparently indicated before her death that she would welcome some form of reconciliation with Tehran, even if in fact that country's present regime was largely responsible for the downfall of her first husband.

Tehran accorded the same silent answer to the auction house - Beaussant Lefevre - chosen to dispose of Soraya's estate. All attempts at interesting Tehran in the sale which has just been organized in Paris met with the same heavy silence from Tehran's bigwigs, indeed the press communiqués launched to news services around the world were completely ignored by Iran's national news agency and Iranian newspapers as a whole, none of which had indeed cared already to announce her death.

But, the French auctioneers entrusted with the sale of the estate of Princess Soraya, who had "very optimistically" forecast revenues of three million euros ($2.8 million) for the sale, were pleasantly surprised by the results for the recent three-session event at Drouot-Montaigne, the celebrated Paris auction center, which saw all 942 lots eagerly bought up, for a total product of 6.58 million euros ($6.2 million).

Even Soraya's blood red 1958 Rolls Royce Silver Spur took little time to be sold, and fetched the extraordinary sum of 60,500 euros ($57,000), apparently put forth by a Paris-based bidder whose chauffeur was immediately sent to the Avenue Montagne venue of the sale to take possession.

More surprising perhaps was the disposal of all 100 lots - in certainly the most prestigious session - of the royal jewels given to her by the Shah of Iran, jewels that Soraya had hoped might one day make their way back to Tehran. These went for 3.9 million euros ($3.6 million), and were notably acquired by Iranian expatriates.

Germany, indeed, provided a good many of the bidders during all three auction sessions, perhaps because of Soraya's German roots.

Another of the principal, and most bid-for, lots to be acquired - this by an unidentified bidder based in the Gulf who put up 1.3 million euros ($1.2 million) - was the wedding dress specially created by Christian Dior for Soraya's February 12, 1951, wedding to the Shah.
Wedding Party Of King And Queen Of Iran

Original caption: 2/21/51-Iran: Wedding of the King and Queen of Iran. L-R: Princess Ashraf, Princess Shams, and the King and Queen of Iran at Golestam Palace.

Shah Of Iran With His Queen Saroya
Original caption: 7/16/51-Teheran, Iran: The Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and his Queen Soraya shown in a new picture.

Original caption: Princess Soraya and the Shah of Iran visit the Saudi Arabian King.

Dino De Laurentiis W/Princess Soraya
Original caption: 2/17/1965-Milan, Italy- Movie director Dino De Laurentiis (glasses) and Princess Soraya, former Empress of Iran, are surrounded by crowds as they arrive at Milan's Teatro Nuovo, for the world premiere of Soraya's first movie, "Three Faces of a Woman."

President Eisenhower Shaking Hands With Reza Pahlevi
Original caption: President and Mrs. Eisenhower welcome Reza Pahlevi Shah of Iran, and his wife, Queen Soraya, who arrive for lunch at the White House. The royal couple will remain in Washington for three days on their nationwide goodwill tour.

Sir Winston Churchill with Royalty of Persia
The Shah of Persia walks behind Queen Soraya of Persia, and Sir Winston Churchill, during a visit to 10 Downing Street.

John Foster Dulles Speaking With Reza Pahlavi
Original caption: Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (second from right) and Mrs. Dulles (left) chat with the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, and his wife Queen Soraya, at Anderson House in Washington. Dulles introduced the Shah a a man who, in a critical hour for his country, took decisions "of importance to the whole history of development and civilization."

Shah Mohammed Pahlavi and Empress Soraya Arriving at Airport
Original caption: Shah of Iran Arrives in Rome. Rome, Italy: The Shah of Iran and his wife, the Empress Soraya, arrive at Rome airport from Bagdad after the unsuccessful royalist attempt to oust Premier Mohammed Mossadegh Aug. 17. The premier was removed in the later successful coup d'etat by forces loyal to the shah, and he made plans to return to Iran from Rome.

Portrait of Queen Soraya Pahlevi of Iran

Queen Soraya and Guests at Polo Event
Original caption: The Persian Queen Soraya Pahlevi is shown at the Polo Ground in Rome. In the left is Count Pecori Giradi, in the right is Mister Luciano Cingone, presidente of the Polo Club.

All pictures by Corbis


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Soraya On "Three Faces Of A Woman" Set
Original caption: 9/22/1964-Sardinia, Italy- Wrapped in a terrycloth poncho robe, Soraya, the former Empress of Iran, sits pensively waiting for the cameras to roll for a scene in her first movie. The scene takes place on a yacht, and is one of the three episodes of "Three Faces of a Woman," on location in Sardinia, Italy.

Another wedding photo...

Official duties...


Soraya... much alike Ingrid Bergman in 'Notorious'...


All pictures by Corbis


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She really was a striking beauty. And was her mother German born and of Russian descent or was she ethnically German? I ask because from this clipping from a 1957 Cosmopolitan magazine is states that her mum was German.


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Her mom was ethnically German to my knowlegde. I also remember some memoirs way back which were published in a German magazine..i wish I would have kept it.. Now, I am not too sure on this one but I think she also suffered miscarriages. Does anyone know more?
thanx for the articles Blueice.
The divorce must've affected her deeply. She obviously never found true happiness after that and led a restless life. I truly feel sad for her.
thanx for the articles Blueice.
The divorce must've affected her deeply. She obviously never found true happiness after that and led a restless life. I truly feel sad for her.

You're very welcome, Humera. :flower: I thought it might be interested to get to know more about this beautiful, yet so unhappy lady. It seems to be a curse of a beauty - strangely enough, most beautiful women were too much desired and so little truly loved and understanded. So sad. One can easily get acusstomed to wealth, luxury and benefits that goes with it - but getting acusstomed to lack of emotions, substance and fulfillment in one's life is much more difficult.

Fashion shaw...

With a friend...

At home...

With a pet...

John Bryan and Soraya

Birthday photo...

The end...


All pictures by Corbis


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Nice job Blueice, one could really learn from those posting a lot. I feel sorry for her. She got all and truly, she had nothing. It is very sad story about her life.

However, her lavish lifestyle took my attention the most. It was not surprised that people of Iran overthrown them. I believe that some of Middle East monarchs can learn a lot from them.
Soraya Estafandiary of Iran

I was thinking, we could devote a thread to some of our beloved royals, who have passed on. I wish to pass on the honor in the name of Her Serene Highness, Soraya Estafandiary of Iran. And you, all eager royal watchers can follow with a few words or pictures...


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There is book written by Princess Soraya, which is now out of print and considered rare. Need a review or excerpt, dont hesitate to contact me. Its a great insight into the Tehran Royal Court
Queen Malka said:
There is book written by Princess Soraya, which is now out of print and considered rare. Need a review or excerpt, dont hesitate to contact me. Its a great insight into the Tehran Royal Court

There are two autobiographies by the late Soraya. One was published in the 60s, Soraya, the Autobiography of Her Imperial Highness, which I've read. Not a whole lot of insight/info. The other one is Palace of Solitudes published in 1991. I managed to find the French version on ebay France after a long search. Just started it. Also, there was a European telefilm about her life (mostly about her marriage) that aired in 2003.
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