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The Imperial Family of Iran arriving at Pasargadae for the opening ceremony of the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire.

The opening of the celebrations of the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire took place on the 12th October 1971 in Pasargadae, the ancient capital of the time of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Empire, who was buried there in a simple but remarkable tomb. The ruins of Pasargadae had been arranged for the ceremony: hundreds of trees had been planted around Cyrus tomb and the ground had been specially prepared to allow the hundreds of military to form their regiments; a long blue carpet had been set from the place where the imperial helicopter would arrive towards the front of the tomb, forming an “L”. In the intersection of the two parts of the carpet was a red carpet, where the Imperial Family would stand during the Shah’s Speech, which would mark the opening of the celebrations.

Hundreds of guests and dozens of soldiers lined the part of the blue carpet that linked the helicopter base to the front of the Cyrus’ tomb. The soldiers and senior military wore their gala uniforms while civilians were required to wear white tie and decorations and women long dresses. Members of the Diplomatic Corps also wore their impressive gala uniforms. Dozens of flagpoles with the Iranian flag lined the blue carpet and also the tomb, around which several regiments were formed.

Two pictures depicting the arrival at the ancient capital of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, known as Pasargad or Pasargadae. After their arrival in the imperial helicopter, TIM The Shah and The Shahbanou of Iran, with HIH The Crown Prince, went through a long blue carpet, passing in front the hundreds of guests gathered there.

Having left a double wreath of flowers (with the Pahlavi coat of arms in the middle) at the tomb of Cyrus the Great, The Shah of Iran returns through the blue carpet towards the place where a microphone was ready for him to make the speech that would inaugurate the celebrations of the 2500th anniversary of the Empire.

Shortly before noon, the helicopter in which the Imperial Family of Iran travelled arrived at Pasargadae. To the sound of military music, the Shah, wearing his uniform of commander of the three services of the Armed Forces and the highest Iranian decorations, with the Shahbanou on his right and the Crown Prince (also in uniform and wearing the Collar and the Ribbon of the highest Iranian order, the Order of Pahlavi) on his left, slowly walked the length of the blue carpet, saluting from time to time to the military officers among the guests, on the right of the carpet. The Empress wore her fantastic seven emeralds tiara along with a fantastic cream-coloured dress, with embroidery in gold and silver, inspired, it was said, by ancient dresses of wives of Persian emperors. Meanwhile, from the mountains around sounded 101 canon blasts to celebrate the auspicious event.

While the Empress and the Crown Prince remained in the red carpet, the Shah marched towards the Cyrus accompanied by several soldiers, two of which carried the flowers that the sovereign would deposit in front of the tomb. Two wreaths of flowers formed it and in the middle it had the Imperial Coat of Arms of Pahlavis. To the sound of drums, the Shah then went back to the red carpet, where a microphone was set. His Majesty then made the first speech of the celebrations, which would undoubtedly be the most moving one.

“O Cyrus, great King, King of Kings, Emperor of the Achaemenians, monarch of the land of Iran. I, the Shahanshah of Iran, offer thee salutations from myself and from our nation.

“We are here to acclaim Cyrus, the Great, the immortal of Iran, the founder of the most ancient empire of the World; to praise Cyrus, the extraordinary emancipator of History; and to declare that he was one of the most noble sons of the Humanity.

“Cyrus, we gather today around the tomb in which you eternally rest to tell you: Rest in Peace, for we are well awake and we will always be alert in order to preserve your proud legacy.

“We promise to preserve forever the traditions of humanism and goodwill, with which you founded the Persian Empire: traditions which made our people be the carrier of message transmitted everywhere, professing fraternity and truth.”

In the four pictures that surround the speech made by His Imperial Majesty, the Shah is seen delivering it. The sovereign wore his uniform of Commander of the Armed Forces and the highest Iranian decorations, among which the Order of Pahlavi. The Shahbanou wore a cream-coloured dress, embroidered in silver and gold and inspired by ancient dresses of the Persian imperial women.

Afterwards, a minute of silence was held in memory of Cyrus the Great, moments of an astonishing silence, during which what seemed to be the response of Cyrus came: the desert wind blew stronger over the guests and the Imperial Family, lifting to the air some sand from the ground. This fact impressed many people and it was definitely mentioned in all the chronics sent worldwide. It had been an extremely moving ceremony, no matter how brief. It was the most appropriate that the celebrations would have started by an homage to Cyrus in the city he had created capital of a huge, humane and peaceful empire. That ended, it was time to return to the splendour of Persepolis. Again very solemnly, the Imperial Family went through the long blue carpet edged by golden decorations and embarked on the helicopter back to the Tent City.

The Imperial Family, followed by an officer carrying the Shah’s personal standard, return to the helicopter that would take them back to the Tent City in Persepolis. In the background it is possible to see the tomb of Cyrus and several regiments who took part in the ceremony. It is also possible to see the trees planted around the tomb and the numerous flagpoles that surrounded it.

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