Noor D’Iran: Un Cœur A Prendre !
Darius KADIVAR Reports From Paris
“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”
-Jalal ad-Din Rumi
“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”
–Doris Lessing about Love
( Iranian-Born British Nobel Prize 2007 in Literature)
It was a particularly gloomy and cold day in snow covered Paris, as I hurried to the train station, hoping to stop for a quick coffee and take a look at the latest headlines at the newsstand as I do every day before jumping in the public transport. The tense International relations and drastic economic situation seems to dominate the news for the past two months leaving little hope for joyful and care free days to come. Whether it’s the endless Middle East quagmire plunged once again into chaos with the Gaza Crisis, the uncertainties of the recent Israeli Elections or Iran’s President Ahmadinejad’s changing moods, amidst offers by newly Elected President Obama’s wish to hold talks with Iran if the latter “unclenched its fist”, nothing in the news seems to bring a smile on our faces. So as I walked towards my favorite newsstand, I did not expect to read or see anything uplifting. As my eyes scrutinized the titles suddenly I caught a glimpse of a beautiful face on the cover of one of the most popular and enduring Royal Celebrity Magazines in Europe: Point de Vue Images Du Monde. I immediately recognized that refreshing smiling face which was none other than that of Princess Noor Pahlavi ! …
The eldest daughter of Iran’s former Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi and his wife Yasmine Etemad-Amini. « Wow ! » I thought to myself with a gasp «How quickly the years have passed ! … ». The news of her birth, on the 3rd of April 1993, shortly before Spring and the Persian New Year, had made the cover of the same magazine with that of her beautiful mother and it seems like that was only yesterday…
I remember buying the magazine and rushing home to announce the good news to friends and family. Obviously the birth of a female heir to the Peacock throne, even in exile, triggered interest into the Pahlavi family and their place in history. With a Revolution that had entered the beginning of its second decade of existence, and despite the death of Ayatollah Khomeiny, the founding father of the Islamic Theocracy in Iran, few signs could suggest any radical change of regime in Iran or the restoration of the Pahlavi’s back on the Peacock Throne. Obviously nostalgia played a role in the Iranian community in exile in regard to the pre-revolution years but for the regular French friends and colleagues the Pahlavi family has been essentially embodied by Iran’s Queen: The Shahbanou, who continues to be referred to by her maiden name “Farah Diba”, in memory of her student years in Paris studying Art and architecture before Marrying the Shah of Iran and becoming the First Iranian Queen Ever to be crowned.
The Former Shahbanou has remained a popular figure in France and Iran’s Royal Couple made some of the most glamorous and most sold covers of Point De Vue Magazine for more than 40 years. So it is not surprising that the magazine has shown interest in our Royal family and followed them with regular updates on their whereabouts in times of glory or tragedy. Their loves, losses, and endurance through life have drawn joy, tears and admiration to many of their compatriots, even often amongst the staunch opponents of the monarchy. A recent Film “The Queen and I” by Swedish Iranian director, Nahid Persson Sarvestani, is a testimony of this enduring fascination for Iran’s Queen and the Pahlavi Dynasty in general even 30 years after their downfall due to an undeniably Popular yet tragically unwelcomed Revolution. How could it be any different? An entire generation’s individual destinies, failures and success’ be it in exile or in Iran was shaped by the events of 1979 for better and for worse. In thirty years another generation has come to being, which we now call the First Generation of Iranians in exile. Born outside Iran, their vision, hopes and aspirations are naturally influenced by a different upbringing and life style. They are certainly much more cosmopolitan in many ways than their elders, yet something about the Iranian collective psyche suggests that many first generation Iranians, have kept close to their Persian roots and grew up with the memories of their ancient and noble land through the experiences of their parents and grandparents. This is certainly the case for the three daughters of Reza and Yasmine Pahlavi. Iman the second daughter born 12 September 1993, seems to have inherited some of the physical attributes of her father while the last child named after her illustrous grandmother Farah born born 17 January 2004, seems like a perfect cloning of the former Empress at the same age. Princess Noor, seems to have inherited the beauty of her mother and the calm regal presence of her Grandma whom she like her siblings call affectionately “Grandma Yaya”.
What do we truly know about these young innocent Persian butterflies who are slowly but surely coming to age ? … Little if not nothing, for their lives have been rightly protected by their parents so as to preserve their privacy and allow their education in a serene and family atmosphere.
How this may at times appear strange, for had events in our country been different today, this eldest Daughter of Iran’s former Crown Prince may have (or have not given the Male Oriented Constitution of the time) been named heir to the throne of the oldest monarchy in the world … , A land that has known many Kings and Queen’s and the rise and fall of prestigious dynasties in more than 25 centuries. Noor, Iman and little cute Farah, would have led a less private and more priviledged life style in the Palaces of Niavaran, Saad Abad or Golestan while being photographed in their every move and put at the pinnacle of public attention. The Grand daughters of Reza Shah The Great, the Founder of the Pahlavi Dynasty and Architect of Modern Iran, remains a much respected national figure amongst Iranians at large despite the fall of his dynasty that lasted half a century. His forced abdication in favor of his son in 1941, remains a national scar that has never entirely healed in our collective memory. For the Man who brought Iran out of the Middle Ages into the 20th Century and emancipated Iranian Women (***) as no other predecessor in the history of our country, nor in the history of the Middle East ( other than maybe Ataturk in neighbouring) was to meet an ungrateful and humilating end in exile. Nevertheless his political, social, cultural and historical legacy has justly been compared to France’s Great Emperor Napoleon Bonapart, and was to strongly shape and define the vision of modernity of his own son, Mohamed Reza Shah, for better and for worse. One can imagine the weight of such a legacy on the still fragile and delicate shoulders of this beautiful and sweet young girl who may or may not one day play a role, be it symbolic, in the history of a nation she has yet to discover first hand. In the light of such an uncertain future, one can therefore understand her parents desire to preserve her privacy and guarantee a “normal” family life and education as that of any other ordinary young girl of her age.
Hollywood and European Cinema (Above)
and Vice Versa: Soraya & Grace Kelly Acting Princess’ (Below).
©imdb &photocomposition ©DK
Nearly 30 years after the Revolution, the passage of Time and the dreadful record of the Islamic Revolution seems in retrospect to place the reign of the Pahlavi Kings in a more positive light than at the time of their downfall. Although not without its shortcomings in terms of Democracy and Human Rights, their era nevertheless undeniably corresponded to one of social, cultural and economic progress (aided in that by its natural Oil ressources) unequaled in the last 3 to 4 centuries of Iranian history. Particularly for Iranian Women and their active role in society and personal and public emancipation, access to education, political and civic rights (*). Recent Books by confirmed historians like Dr. Abbas Milani ( Eminent Persians ) and Gholam Reza Afkhami (The Times and Life of the Shah), Mansoureh Pirnia ( Lady Minister: Farokhrou Parsay Daughter of Freedom A Biography and Memoir) (**) have allowed an objective re-examination of the legacy of the Pahlavi Reign that was only possible with the passage of time and necessary historical distance with the subject matter.
It may also a blessing in disguise to see that Women play such an important role in the Pahlavi Family. The Shahbanou’s strong genes seem to have won over the essentially male dominated dynasty and ironically happily reflect the demography of Iran’s evergrowing female population. Let’s allow ourselves to dream a little and imagine what an irony it would be to see this beautiful and young be accepted by her people in a not so distant future and Crowned as Iran’s Queen … What an Event THAT would be for us but also the World to see? An Event that would probably remind many of Queen Elisabeth’s Televised Coronation in the 1950’s teleprojected into this second Millenium …
A Utopia you may ask ? Well Yes, of course but does that make it an Impossibility ? I’m not so sure ! …
After all European 20th century history offers several examples of abolished absolute monarchies that were restored only in their Democratic Constitutional form in an attempt of national reconciliation and abiding to both Human Rights and Democratic values and ideals. Belgium and Spain are the two that come to one’s mind. All the more that the Former’s Constitution inspired the 1906 Iranian drafted Constitution and the latter’s King Juan Carlos seems to be seen as a Role Model to our Young Princess’ father, the Crown Prince Reza who has recently released a new book “L’Heure Du Choix” aka “The Hour of Choice” that has got a great deal of coverage in the French Media. A book in which the former Crown Prince outlines his vision for a Democratic Iran and also accepted to answer to tough and challenging questions on his father’s reign.
Only the Future can say if The Former Crown Prince will be able to make a difference and convince his compatriots to reconcile around a common vision for a Democratic System of government be it a Secular Republic or a Constitutional Monarchy …
In the meantime our beautiful Iranian Princess will be probably focusing on her academic and private future in pragmatic terms under the guidness and love of her parents and her very inspiring grandmother who truly serves as a role model of dignity, natural elegance and courage. A Grandma who at her granddaughter’s age could hardly imagine the extraordinary destiny of a Modern Day Cinderella that would befall on her in the most unexpected way …
Will Princess Noor have a similar Regal future ? Will she marry for Love at First Sight like her Grandma or by duty ? Will she live a similar romance as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday respectively as a Princess in the Spotlight and the unknown Journalist ? Will Her heart balance between a Prince or a Pauper Like Grace Kelly in The Swan ? Or will she like most girls of her generation get to experience her first kiss only to be followed by her first heartbreak and in the process learn that Life is not always a Fairy tale ? Who can say ? …
As this young butterfly grows and learns to fly with her own wings, she may remember those wise words that her illustrious grandmother repeats often in her interviews:
“La Vie Est Un Combat … Mais Elle Vaut La Peine d’être Vécu ” aka “Life is an Eternal Struggle …But it’s Worth the Fight” !
In The Meantime Princess, We Wish You a Happy Valentine and may your Lucky Stars Light Your Way towards Love and Happiness !
VIVE L’AMOUR !,
VIVE LA JEUNESSE !,
VIVE NOTRE PRINCESSE D’IRAN !
Official Website of PDV Magazine:
(*) Right to choose: First protests against mandatory hijab shortly after the Revolution of '79 brutally suppressed in Violence 9 (Photos)
(**) Regarding a Prominent Iranian Women and Minister of the Pahlavi Era: pictory: A Women for All Seasons : Farokhroo Pārsā (1922-1980) By Darius KADIVAR (Iranian.com)
(***) pictory: The Day the Veil Was Dropped: Queen of Iran Taj Ol' Molouk followed by daughters Princess Shams (right) and Princess Ashraf Pahlavi appear in Public without the Veil and in Western Clothing. (1934)
Other Recommended Websites:
Official Website of Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi
Official Website of Yasmine Pahlavi’s Foundation
for the Children of Iran
Official Website of Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi
French Documentary on Shahbanou Farah by Frédéric Mitterand (Aired on 21st Feb on FR3)
Reza Pahlavi New Book (A TIME OF CHOICE) Q&A With French Media