GHOLAM REZA PAHLAVI : THE SHAH's BROTHER TESTIFIES
ON HIS BROTHER AND FATHER' S LIVES AND REIGNS
The Imperial Regime was not a model of Democracy
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
AS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ADMONISHES IRAN, HIS
HIGHNESS PRINCE GHOLAM REZA PAHLAVI SPEAKS ABOUT HIS BOOK AND ON THE
FALL OF THE REGIME THAT LED TO THE RULE OF THE AYATOLLAHS. By Point
De Vue journalists Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre translated
by Darius KADIVAR
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)