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Her Imperial Majesty The Shahbanou of Iran, Farah Pahlavi was born on the 14th of October 1938, the only daughter of Sohrab Diba, an Iranian Army officer but also a Law graduate of the Sorbonne and the famed french military Academy of St. Cyr. Her Imperial Majesty’s father passed away when she was only nine years old and her mother, Mrs. Farideh Diba, personally supervised her education, first at Teheran's Jeanne d'Arc and Razi schools, and later at the Ecole d'Architecture in Paris, where the future Empress was studying until her marriage to His Imperial Majesty The Shahanshah of Iran, which took place on the 20th December 1959, amidst grand splendour, in the Marble Palace of Teheran.

As Empress, Her Majesty pursued her interests in social work, the emancipation of women, sport and art. Most of her time was devoted to the promotion of social welfare and culture, and she was patron of 24 educational, health, cultural and charity organizations. In addition to supervising the work of these organizations in Teheran, the Empress paid frequent visits to even the most remote parts of Iran to obtain first-hand knowledge of the life and aspirations of farmers and ordinary people. Apart from accompanying her husband the Shah on official and state visits abroad, the Empress has also paid a number of official and semi-official visits to foreign countries in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. She became famous for her beauty, for her elegance and for her enormous charm and she definitely helped to put Iran back in the international map.

Empress Farah's deep interest and personal involvement in the arts have been largely responsible for Iran's cultural many cultural movements and her frequent visits to art exhibitions and performances gave fresh incentive to all Iranian artistic activities. She supported young Iranian artists through her personal endeavours, and was a driving force behind a number of specialized art museums and other projects to preserve and publicize ancient and traditional art and architecture.

Should we mention the two main spheres of action of Her Imperial Majesty in Iran, it would certainly be the one of culture and that of the emancipation of women. Between her wedding to the Shah and the fall of the monarchy, women played an increasingly important role in public life. Parliament deputies, senators, ministers, ambassador, lawyers, judges etc., women were in all high national and local instances and occupied important positions in all areas of the administration. The emancipation of women as well as the economic and social reforms, which took place deeply, modified the structures of Iranian society.

The Empress was the third wife of the Shah and she gave Iran the much-awaited Crown Prince that should have continued the Pahlavi Dynasty. Her first son was named Reza Cyrus and he officially became Crown Prince in 1967, when his parents were crowned in a magnificent ceremony in Teheran. Their second child was Princess Farahnaz who fulfilled the family with joy. Then another boy was born, Prince Ali Reza. Finally a second girl was born, Princess Leila. The Imperial Family was seen throughout the World as a model family and they lived outside Teheran in a totally quiet place, away of the confusion of the great city Teheran had become.

On the 16th January 1979, the Shah and the Empress left Iran for an exile that was thought to be only temporary. At a strike-ridden and empty airport, in presence of only a restricted group of loyalists and Prime Minister Bakhtiar, the sovereigns left by plane for Assouan in Egypt. While the Shah could hardly keep his tears, the Shahbanou had taken tranquillisers to hide her deep sadness. It was the beginning a painful and long wandering which would take them in succession to Morocco, the Bahamas, Mexico, the United States, then Panama and finally Cairo. The Shah passed away in Cairo's Maadi hospital on the 27th July 1980.

Empress Farah in her impressive white gown and wearing a stunning diamond and emerald necklace, at the Grand Hall of the Golestan Palace, minutes before becoming the first Empress of Iran to be crowned.

In conformity to the Constitution amendments of 1967, the Empress assumed the charge of the regency until the majority of her elder son, Crown Prince Reza Cyrus, who reached legal majority (20 years) on the 31st October 1980. He then swore, under the holy Koran, to assume the responsibilities that the Iranian Constitution demanded from him, and thus became de jure, Reza Shah II of Iran.

Today, the Empress lives between the Unites States and France. Each year, she accomplishes a pilgrimage of remembrance at the tomb of the Shah who rests at the Al Rifai Mosque. Following seventeen long years, and after courageously facing the many difficulties that come from exile, the Empress now lives quietly, taking care of her children and family. She is rebuilding for them a new life. She keeps abreast of political events in her country as well as those of the international community. The Shahbanou still sees heads of states, presidents and monarchs, and, at the side of her son, keeps in constant touch with her compatriots in exile. Her Majesty regularly attends royal events throughout Europe.

In recent years the Imperial Family and most particularly the Shahbanou were shaken by the tragic death of Her Imperial Highness Princess Leila, her youngest daughter, in June 2001. The year before, the Empress’ mother had also passed away, transforming the beginning of the 21st century in a very sad time for the exiled Empress. Her Majesty has, nevertheless, maintained an impeccable attitude of great dignity and is admired throughout the World, despite the attempts from the Iranian regime to destroy the image of the late Shah and the Imperial Family.

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