ROYALTY: Princess Ashraf in Her Early Thirties (1950's)

ROYALTY: Princess Ashraf in Her Early Thirties (1950's)
by Darius Kadivar

The Shah's Twin Sister Princess Ashraf Pahlavi in her early years poses for an Official Portrait. The Tiara of Rubies and Diamonds was what she wore on the Coronation of her brother the Shah in 1967. (circa 1950's)


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Darius Kadivar

True and False

by Darius Kadivar on

It is very true that Ashraf Pahlavi had a very bad reputation during the Shah's reign. Mainly because she was most probably a very strong personality and had some influence on her brother but also because she was instrumental in convincing her brother to endorse the CIA Led Operation AJAX that was to overthrow Prime Minister Mossadegue's government and restore the Shah on the Throne. However my assessment is that this negative reputation that earned her the nickname of the "Black Panther" by opponents to the monarchy often overlooked much of the positive contributions she did to Iranian society. She was one of the first Iranian women to show herself unveiled with her sister Shams and mother Taj Ol' Molouk during Reza Shah's reign to signify the emancipation of Iranian women in the early 30's. She was also determinal in discouraging Joseph Stalin in invading Iran. The Soviet Leader called her a Women of Iron ( before Margaret Thatcher ) because he was impressed by her bold and stubborn stance in defense of her country. She was also to do much in this field in encouraging women participation in civil life and on social and political matters and in representing Iran at the United Nations. But much of her more constructive work was overlooked by her negative image amongst Iranians. Being somehow neglected and despised by her own Father who ignored her ( See photo of her standing aside from her father who holds the future Shah and Sister Shams in his arms and not her), she was to compensate that lack of love by a strong personality and fighting her way through a machist society and court environment which made many Iranian men uncomfortable.

I was personally impressed by her autobiography entitled "Faces in the Mirror" which is much better written than her brother's "Answer to History". One does not have to share her views on everything and I certainly don't think that she was particularly a "Democrat" but I do think that much of what was spread about her was often exagerated or out of context. As a Woman of Influence she annoyed many conservative and religious Iranians. On the otherhand it is also true that her involvement in the decision makings of her brother particularly in naming or choosing political advisors or Prime Ministers was hurtful to both the Shah and the country. Some like the Minister of Court Alam in his book The Shah and I, claim that the Shah on the contrary did not listen to her on most occasions but gave her the impression that he did only to do the contrary. But Alam's memoires cover the period of 1968 to 1977 and not the earlier years particularly in the 50's and the controversial years following the Coup. So it is hard to know the exact truth about her.

The Reality is probably a little between the two that is that on one hand she was a subject to a great deal of unjustified rumours but at the same time that she was too often involved in politics and tried to shortcut people who tried to inform or advise the Shah in regard to the country's many problems and she contributed more in isolating him from his people and encouraging his latent megalomania. On the otherhand her Son of her first marriage Chahriar Chafig was a great Patriot who was assassinated by the IRI death squads in Paris for his activities in trying to restore the monarchy and her daughter was also active in the early 80's when she demonstrated in front of the Iranian Embassy or participated in the highjacking of the Tabarzin Ship ( purchased during the Shah's time and had to be delivered to the IRI) as a protest to the Islamic Republic and French government's collaboration with Tehran's new leadership.  

However I think that most allegations in terms of drug addiction or gambling on the French Riviera were mostly unreliable rumors that anyone in the Public Eye is subject to and which was exploited more by Papparazo's and People's Press than by accurate historical research. Actually I believe that a historical research should be done in dicephering Fact from Fiction when it comes to most members of the Pahlavi Family. That has never really been undertook by any serious historic research to date. Maybe a Student in History could try and do that one day for a Thesis or some case study on that Era.

To Conclude I don't think Ashraf was an Inoccent Pure Angel but she was neither the "Black Panther" like personality many claimed she was. I don't think that she was responsible for anyone's execution or torture for instance, but she must have made alot of enemies in influencing her brother to layoff ministers or politicians who were gaining influence on the Shah or that she considered as dangerous to his authority. But I cannot vouch for her or against her in this regard for I have not seen any truly objective account in regard to her life and true personality to date that could offer insight into her true nature.




by Troneg on

For me Ashraf is the dark side of Shah !

Many people were upset about Shah because of Ashraf actions.

I respect Mohamad Reza, Farha and their family but Ashraf dont deserve the name of Proncess !

There are not many people I dislike but Ashraf is in the list.