Safeguard our treasures!
of Prince Hamid Kadjar
Harvard Oral History
Memoirs of Prince Hamid Kadjar is the third of a number of life histories to published by the Iranian Oral History Project. The project was launched in the autumn of 1981 at Harvards Center for Middle East Studies. It provides scholars endeavoring to study the contemporary political history of Iran with primary source material, consisting of personal accounts of 132 individuals who played major roles in important political events and decisions in Iran from the 1920s to the 1970s; or witnessed these events and decisions from close range.
In October 1925, the Iranian Majles (parliament) deposed the Qajars after 140 years of rule. Onthe same day, Prince Hamid's father, who was holding fort in Tehran during Ahmad Shah's extended stay in Europe, was expelled from the country. He headed for Paris and joined the rest of his family. Shortly thereafter, Hamid Kadjar, then seven years old, was sent to England to live and study under the guardianship of a prominent English family, who had befriended Mohammad Ali Shah during his exile years in Odessa, Ukraine. After completion his primary and secondary studies, Prince Hamid entered a merchant marine academy in Kent, where he earned scholastic and nautical degrees in 1936. He then joined the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company as an indentured cadet. Three years later, he returned to London and was employed by Mobil Oil Company.
In the summer of 1941, around the time of the abdication of Reza Shah, the British Foreign Office considered the restoration of the Qajars by placing Prince Hamid on the Iranian throne. Many factors, among them Hamid's unfamiliarity with the Persian language and concern over Soviet reaction to placing a British protege on the throne, dissuaded them from this course of action.
In 1942, as the Second World War engulfed Europe, Prince Hamid volunteered for the Royal Navy and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant To avoid possible embarrassment with the Iranian government, he was asked to adopt a pseudonym. On the strength of his boyhood reading of the Bulldog Drummond thrillers, he called himself David Drummond. He served through the war attaining the rank of Lieutenant-ant Commander.
Once the war ended in Europe, Prince Hamid was able to go to Paris and meet with his family. During this visit, he developed a relationship with his cousin, Mahindokht Malak-Mansour, daughter of his aunt Khadijeh and a grand daughter of Mohammad Ali Shah. In order to remain with Mahindokht in Paris, Prince Hamid resigned his commission from the Royal Navy. Prince Hamid and Princess Mahindokht were married in 1945 or 1946. The marriage produced two children: a son, Mohammad Hassan (b. 1949) and a daughter, Nassrindokht (b. 1951).
A few years later, Prince Hamid returned to London and Mobil Oil, where he worked until 1957. In that year, he traveled to Iran for the first time since leaving as a child, and joined the Iranian Oil Consortium. Soon after his return to Iran, Prince Hamid and Princess Mahindokht divorced. In 1960, Prince Hamid married Soudabeh Afshar. While in Iran, Prince Hamid worked for the Consortium in the southern oil fields, in Tehran, and finally in London from 1971 to 1979, when he retired.
Prince Hamid lived his years of retirement with his wife in London. After a brief illness, he died on May 5, 1988 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.
In an obituary, the Times of London (May 9, 1988) said, Though very much a Persian in appearance, Prince Hamid had a bluff and breezy British quarterdeck manner, combined with a shrewd insight into both British and Iranian affairs. He excelled as a raconteur and had a wide circle of British friends.
Habib Ladjevardi has been the director of the Iranian Oral History Project at Harvard University since 1981. Born in Tehran, he grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y., and was educated at the Yale Engineering School and the Harvard Business School. Dr. Ladjevardi returned to Iran in 1963 and began work as personnel manager in his family's business. Subsequently he was responsible for founding the Iran Center for Management Studies in Tehran, where he taught until 1976. He also served on a number of boards and councils in the private and public sectors. Dr. Ladjevardi received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 1981.