The Imperial Regime was not a model of Democracy but?


THE PRINCE Gholam-Reza Pahlavi, son of Reza Shah the Great, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, and brother of of the last Shah of Iran was a privaledged witness of his reign of thirty seven years. In a highly expected book, he breaks the silence that surrounds the fall of the Shah's regime and gives his version of the facts. Highly critical of the western powers he accuses them of interfering in Iran's internal affairs. The prince responds to the most embarrassing questions and reminds the true story of his country which was turned towards progress before being the victim of a theocratic rule. Restrained, lucid and at times nostalgic, he also describes the daily life of the Imperial family, their joys and pain from the palaces of Teheran to the last trip to exile..

Prince Gholam Reza and wife Princess Manjineh Pahlavi


Point de Vue : Why did you decide to publish this book now?

--Gholam-Reza Pahlavi : Because Iran is precisely today at the focus of all attention. I will quote my brother, Mohammad-Reza Shah : "The security of the world depends on the security of Iran. If Iran falls in terror and fear, the world shall fall also. » Imperial Iran was a wall against International terrorism. It was vanquished by the same forces that today are in power in Teheran and are allies to those who want to destabilize the world.

PDV--You are both the son of Reza Shah the Great founder of the Pahlavi Dynasty and by your mother are related to the ancient Qajar dynasty deposited in 1935 in favor of your father. How do you explain this alliance ?

GRP- My parents marriage was an arranged on. In 1921, my father who was chief of the armed forces was the strong man of the regime and wanted to be linked to a respectable and great family. Without knowing her he asked my great grandfather Madj-Dolwleh, the hand of his daughter. The latter was forced to accept. It was very difficult to refuse anything to the nation?s strongest man...

PDV--How did your mother live through this forced marriage?

GRP-When she learned the news, my mother panicked. She was sweating after a few seconds. It was very difficult for her to imagine living with a man older than her own father and already married twice and father to four children ! How can one speak of love in a marriage decided quickly in a Cossack manner? and my father was indeed a Cossack .

PDV-This marriage did not last. The press of the Time mentioned a blunder of behalf of your mother that led to her repudiation?.

GRP - My parents got divorced shortly after my birth on the 15th of may 1923. To explain this decision, it was said that my mother had sold without my fathers consent a diomand ring offered by my father. It was probably the reason that was mentioned but in reality my mother was the subject of a rivalry between my great grandfather Madj-Dolwleh, close to the Qajar family and my father who commanded the country. My mother was a victim of the pride of two men who symbolized two different eras of Iran.

PDV-This dual belonging to Qajar and Pahlavi did it cause you a problem?

GRP - My father was tender with his children. He loved us greatly and my mother was careful not to annoy the authoritarian Queen mother Taj ol Molouk so that I would be in good terms with my brothers and sisters. However it was not before the age of ten that I was considered entirely as a Pahlavi. Before that I was considered as a sweet child but also as one of those dissapointing Madj. Some must have asked if as legitimate son of the Shah, I did not have a certain nostalgia for the Qajars? I understand some injustices at the Time but it was my childhood and I liked that periode..

PDV - How was the young prince that you were live with divorced parents which was often the case in those years?

GRP - What counts for a child before anything else is the love he recieves. On this account I was cherished by my mother. Before her, Reza Shah had two wives. From the first, Maryam Khanum, he had a daughter, Hamdam. With the second Taj ol Molouk, he had a daughter Shams, then the future Shah, Mohamed Reza and his twin sister Ashraf, and Ali Reza who was barely older than me. I loved him like a twin brother. Esmate Dowlatshahi, his fourth wife gave him 5 other kids. This whole tribe transformed the whole palace into a playground. I lived very joyful hours of laughter and fun and like most adults I have very fond memories of my childhood..

PDV -Why did Reza Khan, Prime Minister become King Reza Shah?

GRP - Iran was no more a nation, at most a zone of influence. Everything had to be done in order to save the country from sinking and my father had lost trust in his King, who was absent for more than two years in his country. Ahmad Shah lived most of his time in Europe and was concerned by Iran only to the point of seeing his finance minister pays him regularly for his expenses. I am convinced that if Ahmad Shah had returned to Iran and supported my father's reformes, my father would not have seeked the Crown for himself.

PDV - Are you proud of your father's reign?

GRP -As an Iranian we can all be proud of what he did. Reza Shah managed to transform Iran from the middle Ages into a country open to the world and new ideas. Some concepts such as justice, education, central government, women rights, bridges, roads, trains and dams, became realities thanks to him. He created universities and schools, forbidded the veil, pacified the country and restored its independance by adhering to the Society of Nations ( The former United Nations ). You can say I am biaised, I am obviously speaking proudly of him because he was my father. However one thing remains objective if we can critisize his policies we cannot doubt his integrity.

PDV -On septembre 17th 1941, in the midst of World War II and under the pressure of the Allies, Reza Shah was forced to abdicate in favor of your brother Mohamed Reza Shah who was barely 22 years old. How did you live this particularly dramatic moment?

GRP -Like other members of the Royal Family, I was already gone for Ispfahan. We heard the news of my father's abdication on the radio. Very touched by the news Princess Fawzia my brother's wife went and took refuge at the balcony. She was crying and I tried to console her. « You should not be sad, you are now the new Queen of Iran ». However she continued to cry for Reza Shah. She respected the man and truly had a great deal of love for him. I was myself very moved.

Shahpour Gholamreza Pahlavi and his wife Manijeh, Khandaniha (1326/1947)

PDV - After his abdication you decided to follow your father in exile. How did this abrupt change, also change your relations with him?

GRP -At l'île Maurice then South Africa he had more time for us. We had breakfast with him as well as lunch but he would supper alone. It is at such moments that I got to have true political conversations with him. It was very interesting. With the energy of my youth and inexperience I would critisize his policies and the way some things were done under his reign. However he would answer : « Of course, I could have done better ». Later on I understood how much I was unjust. Sometimes children can be very cruel with their parents.

PDV -Your father died in exile. In 1950, Mohemed Reza Shah was able to bring back his ashes to Iran. What did you feel during this ceremony ?

GRP - My brother waited at the station. He was kneeling close to his father's remains. The heavy silence was broken. Mohemed Reza Shah suddenly lost his self control and started to cry. I never had seen him cry this way. Then he gained control and the funeral ceremony continued. We were followed by a large crowd in silence. To see our father's body return home was immensly emotional. .

PDV -1950 is also the year of the marriage of Mohemed Reza Shah and princess Soraya. What were your relations with the person whose destiny was to be followed by the whole world?

GRP -It started like a fairy tale. Soraya belonged to the powerful Bakhtiary tribe, a rich and powerful tribe that also created a great deal of trouble under my father's reign. The marriage was splendid. Parties would succeed from the Marble Palace to Golestan. The princess was very ill, but assumed her responsabilities during the ceremony with great courage. I recall her bright face despite her fatigue. Her eyes would glow like diamonds. She had subjugated everyone. This marrige was followed by a very happy periode for all the Royal Family. We would go out to the Cinema, walk in the mountains or simply drink tea. We would have dinner twice a week together. The princess was shy, kind and unable to hide her feelings which led to some criticisme at court.

PDV -We all know the sad story of Soraya. How was this divorce experienced by the Royal Family?

GRP - The major problem was that of the succession to the throne. The princess could not have children. The royal couple consulted major physicians worldwide but in vain. The shah was young and very much in love with Soraya. She was madly in live with him. However she refused to see in him a King. She wanted him for her alone and live without duties. My sister princess Shams and the Queen Mother believed that the lack of a heir was not a good thing for the Shah. The Shah who did not want to lose her thought of modifying the constitution and naming his daughter Shahnaz (born to Queen Fawzia) as heir or one of his borthers. Finally Soraya fled to Europe and thought that the Shah would follow. Since she refused the solution of the Shah having a second spouse allowed by the muslim laws, the Shah decided to divorce after a long period of grief..

PDV -Did you ever think of yourself as becoming King?

GRP - Never ! I was second in order of succession after my brother Ali Reza. The question was considered only once after the tragic death of my brother Ali-Reza. However on october 31st a year after the marriage with Farah Diba, my brother finally had the joy of having an heir. I was anonymous in a crowd when the news broke in the streets. It was a demonstration of joy and sympathy. I thanked God for the birth of this child and for all the kindness my brother deserved to get from his people..

PDV -The image you give HIM Mohemed Reza Shah is contrary to the image given by the international press and the Western Public opinion?

GRP -I do not want to deny the excesses under his reign. The Imperial Regime was not a model of Democracy. The shah himself declared to a journalist of the German magazine Stern: "It is not responsible to speak of democracy with such a high level of illiteracy » . Are these the words of a tyrant? Nothing in the life of my brother, and I say this with all my conviction, can allow such a comparison. The Shah had given his life to his people. The Shah belongs to the line of Kings such as Louis XVI of France or Charles the First of Austria who lost power because they refused to have blood shed to defend him. Their will for reform was enormous and so was the expectations of the people but hostile forces to any evolution were stronger and ended by being the victors.

PDV -In your book, you are not tender with the Western powers?

GRP -The Iranian society was not a politically democratic one. We did not have all the freedoms, that is true. However, we were free to study freely at the university, to marry whoever we wanted, to leave the country if we wished, to eat whatever we wanted, to see whoever we wanted or to walk hand in hand. We had religious freedom and could work and have parties all of which are forbidden by the current regime. In the name of what principles did the West have to interfere to ask us to have freedom? That indeed led our country towards tyranny and not democracy. ,

PDV -How did you live the fall of the regime and your second exile?

GRP- The speed of the succession of events did not allow us to understand what was taking place. The death of my brother was to mark the final score. It was only after his funeral that we understood the magnitude of what had happened. The Shah was always our reference. We were like orphans. We feared to be kidnapped or be a victims of an assassination attempt. Each day we would be horrified by the death of friends or people who had been faithful to the monarchy. Never did I feel so impotent at the face of the historical events.

PDV - What were your souces of comfort?

GRP- Certainly my wife, princess Manijé . I can never thank her enough for having been able to adapt herself to the circumstances we went through both in regard to the honors and obligations to which we were used to at the height of power as on the road to exile. Thanks to her intelligence, courage and understanding as well as kindness we managed to keep a united family. We were able to raise our children, help them finish their studies and have their own family. We are happy grandparents of six children including two twins who were born recently to my son !

PDV - It is to them that you thought when you wrote your book?

GRP- The threads of a history of two milleniums interupted by 25 years are on the verge of being united again. This book is a reflection, a message of hope for my children and the young generation who will save the country. It is also for my grandchildren and all the children who will construct the Free Iran of tomorrow.


A note on the book:

English: What do we know exactly on the Former Pahlavi dynasty ? An authoritarian regime, on the verge of collapse overthrown by a popular revolution inspired by a religious man who was given refuge in France . Everything else has remained in silence in history books : 2500 years of a bright civilization centuries of humiliation and 60 years of conquest of national pride and progres ? Iran appears to us as being the country of the Tchador and of the « pensee unique ». Or worse a country where modernisation is impossible. Prince Gholam Reza Pahlavi, brother of the Former Shah of Iran and grandson of Reza Shah the Great has decided to break this silence and give his version of history. He explains how his Father Reza Shah and then his brother Mohemed Reza Shah brought Iran to the XXth century and give their country a respected place in the concert of nations. However did we want Peace in the Middle East ? War in this region of the World didn't it serve those who demanded the Shah's departure. The prince Gholam Reza responds to all questions including the most embarrassing in order to reestablish the true story of his country. The book is also the occasion to discover the daily life in the Royal court and Royal family as well as in exile. The loves of the Sha with Soraya Fawzia and Farah. As well as the doubts and pains notably those linked to the tragic death of Princess Leila in 2001 as well as the dignified and moving radio speach of her mother Empress Farah which touched millions of Iranians worldwide.

« Imperial Iran was a wall against international terrorism and was vanquished by the same forces in Tehran today and who want to destabilize the World. »

French: Que croyons-nous savoir? Un régime autoritaire, à bout de souffle, a été renversé par une révolution populaire inspirée par un religieux qui avait été accueilli en France. Tout le reste est passé sous silence. Passés sous silence, 2 500 ans de civilisation brillante, des siècles d'humiliation et 60 ans de reconquête de fierté nationale et de progrès... L'Iran nous paraît désormais n'avoir jamais été que le pays du tchador et de la pensée unique. Ou pire, le pays où toute modernisation est impossible. Le Prince Gholam-Reza Pahlavi, frère du Shah d'Iran, a décidé de rompre ce silence et de dire quel a été l'Iran au XXe siècle, marqué par la dynastie à laquelle il appartient. Il relate comment son père Reza Shah, puis son frère, par leur politique toujours tournée vers le progrès, ont su et pu donner à l'Iran la place qui lui revenait de droit dans le concert des grandes nations. Mais voulait-on la paix au Moyen-Orient ? La guerre dans cette partie du monde n'arrangeait-elle pas certains intérêts, ceux-là mêmes qui firent partir le Shah ? Le Prince Gholam-Reza Pahlavi a accepté de répondre à nos questions, même les plus embarrassantes, afin de rétablir la véritable histoire de son pays, dont aucun Iranien n'a à rougir. Au fil des entretiens se dégage également un portrait saisissant de la vie quotidienne du Shah et de la famille impériale, ballottée des palais d'Iran jusqu'à l'exil. Les amours (des années Fawzia aux années Soraya, la princesse aux yeux tristes, et Farah), les doutes, la douleur aussi, notamment lors du tragique décès de la Princesse Leila en 2001 et l'intervention digne et poignante de sa mère l'Impératrice Farah à la radio, qui a ému des millions d'Iraniens.


* "My father, my brother, the Shah's of Iran."Dialogue with His Imperial Highness Prince Gholam-Reza Pahlavi, brother of the Shah of Iran" by S.A. Iman Ansari and Patrick Germain. Edition Normant, 336 p., 21 euros. [En vente chez Amazon au prix de 19, 95 euros. Possibilité l'acheter à partir de ce site (cf lien livres) ]
** Descendant of Qajar Dynasty. (LL.AA.II prince Gholam-Reza Pahlavi and princesse Manijé live in Paris. They married in march 1962. "Despite our age difference our married life was a success. ", says the prince).
*** together they had two daughters, Maryam and Azar and a son, Bahram.

(source : Point de Vue n° 2957)