Farah Pahlavi & the Shah: Enduring love

Extracts from An Enduring Love written by Farah Pahlavi and published by Miramax books.

It had been snowing. The piercing wind sweeping down from the peaks of the Alborz made crystalline flakes swirl up in the dawn light. The night had been calm, strangely calm, and the king had been able to get a few hours’ of sleep. Weakened by illness and worn down by the situation, he had lost a lot of weight during the past year. In addition, despite the declaration of martial law, every night protesters had managed to defy the soldiers and climb onto the roofs. We could even hear their shouts of hate in the palace: “Allahu Akbar, marg bar Shah-Allah is great, death to the Shah!” I would have given anything to protect the king from those insults.

From then on we were without the children. My little Leila’s impromptu visits, the look in Farahnaz’s eyes, timid but full of love for her father, Ali-Reza’s unrestrained laughing and joking so affectionately tolerated by my husband, all that had now gone from the palace. I had put their departure off until the last minute, sensing that it would no doubt mean the end of a family life that had given us so much happiness for almost twenty years. Our elder son, Reza, was in the United States training as a fighter pilot. At that time he was seventeen, and he phoned us every day. The situation as it was reported on American TV worried him immensely. I tried to reassure him, to persuade him to stand firm and above all not to lose hope, even though I saw that the country was sinking into chaos.

Work had stopped almost everywhere, the refineries had shut down, the state coffers were nearly empty. Every day brought its waves of demonstration, hate, provocation, and misinformation. The king chatted briefly with his eldest son, making sure, as I did, that none of his own anxiety could be heard in his conversation on the telephone. And yet there were people fleeing all around us. Month after month, more and more business leaders, engineers, researchers, and managers were leaving the country. We would soon be the last “legitimate authorities” in the sinking ship that certain forces seemed determined to wreck.

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