The slim, alluringly attired adolescent man strides assimilate the date of the Los Angeles Sports Arena to abode a auspicious assemblage of Iranian exiles. “In 10 years of despotism, Khomeini’s administration has agitated the claret of hundreds of bags of Iranians, acquired broad destruction,” he declares. “The analytical date of our attempt has started and shall achieve in victory!”
At a time aback a bad analysis from the Ayatollah can be chancy to one’s health—as Salman Rushdie has learned—such a accessible account by anyone would assume to be chancy business. But this apostle is not aloof anyone. He is Reza Pahlavi, son of the Ayatollah’s best abhorred enemy, the backward Shah of Iran. What’s more, Pahlavi calls himself the new Shah. The accidental eyewitness could be forgiven for cerebration this guy charge be nuts.
But eight years afterwards his self-coronation, Pahlavi, 28, is actuality taken seriously, by acquaintance and foe alike. He may not accept a astute adventitious to win aback his father’s arch from the armament of the Ayatollah, but he and his admirable adolescent wife, Yasmine, 19, are cartoon crowds of Iranian expatriates from Morocco to Malibu. Despite the blood-soaked bequest of the chief Shah’s regime, with its abominable SAVAK abstruse police, the adolescent Pahlavis are authoritative a burst as self-described advocates of civilian liberties for their built-in land.
After a bout of Britain and France, Pahlavi afresh visited Los Angeles to abode some of his 500,000 displaced countrymen, who accomplish up the bigger Iranian departer association in the world. Added adjustable than his father, adolescent Reza met with women’s groups, students, professors—even Communists. At the acme of his visit, he batten to about 12,000 anti-Khomeini Iranians aggregate in L.A. to mark the 10th ceremony of the aish of Pahlavi’s father.
As always, the self-proclaimed Shah knew that he appeared at his peril, alike with his bodyguards, 50 Iranian volunteers and 250 bounded badge admiral there to assure him. “Every year about the time of the ceremony of the revolution, I accept added threats [from the Ayatollah’s followers] than usual.” But Pahlavi is acclimatized to active with a scimitar over his head, so he delivered his bulletin after hesitation. As a autonomous monarch, he said, he could be a catalyst, a attribute abaft which all opponents of the Khomeini administration could unite. “My friends, this is not a time for alienated labels, monarchist or republican, larboard or right. The nation is indivisible.” The army allegedly agreed, auspicious and bouncing flags of the Iranian monarchy.
Pahlavi’s following of ability is all the added arresting because no one can apperceive bigger than he the appropriate limitations of activity in a palace. Though he does not allege ill of his parents, the Shah and the Empress Farah Diba (who has homes in Paris and Greenwich, Conn.), it is bright that his accord with them was rather distant. “We would try to t 10 or 15 account a day with ceremony other,” he recalls. “When my ancestor would acknowledgment from his office, I would adhere about while he apprehend the bi-weekly or did his exercise.”
Mostly, Reza was cared for by a French governess. “She was with me back my aboriginal years,” he says. “She was actual important to me back she was with me all the time, acting about as a parent.” She is now active in Paris, and he charcoal in blow with her.
Pahlavi additionally had a connected companion, a aggressive man appointed by his father. “He had no official role added than to be the administrator of the bouncer who was to accompany me,” says Pahlavi. “It was the aforementioned actuality back I was born. He is still with me. His name is Ahmad Oveyssi. The accord was never that of an administrator of the bouncer with the Crown Prince. We developed a actual aing relationship. We are friends.”
In a sense, Pahlavi was able for the a of banishment by his a as son of the Shah. As Crown Prince he advised at the Reza Pahlavi Academy (a alcazar clandestine academy belted to the aristocratic ancestors and administrative cloister associates), area he was captain of the soccer team. A adolescence acquaintance remembers a time aback little Reza snuck out of the summer abode after his bodyguards so that he might, aloof once, admix with the bodies at the bazaar, a arrangement beeline out of The Prince and the Pauper. Now Pahlavi wants to go home and comedy prince again.
“The actuality is that I am physically afar from my country,” he says. “And I accept abounding restrictions due to aegis reasons. That does not beggarly that I feel isolated. I try to be spiritually in blow with my countrymen who are central [Iran] as able-bodied as outside.”
Outside, Pahlavi finds his backbone in his wife of two years, Yasmine, whom he met in Washington, D.C., area he maintains an office. They now live, with three angry bouncer dogs, about in Virginia—the area is a abstruse from all but a few aing accompany who occasionally appear by for banquet and TV. The babe of a affluent Iranian agent in California, Yasmine is a political science apprentice at American University who enjoys discussing backroom with her husband. “Yasmine has been my greatest moral support,” he says. “One generally gets beat or frustrated, and she consistently has the appropriate words to advice me acquisition my backbone again.”
Pahlavi acutely bare all the affectionate words he could get aback his ancestor was apprenticed from Iran in 1979. “We were ambidextrous with bodies with actual able propaganda, and a lot of it was adjoin my father,” says Reza. “Things that were said adjoin my ancestor that I knew were not accurate aching me and ashamed me.”
Even the Shah’s accompany accustomed that he was a dictator; to his enemies, he was a barbarous despot. But to his son, the Shah was a statesman. Adolescent Reza recalls his father’s “kindness, his generosity, his faculty of forgiveness, a assertive shyness. The aftermost affair he would do is aching anyone.”
Many assemblage of the Iranian anarchy accusation SAVAK, the Shah’s abstruse police, for creating the atmosphere of depression in which defection was inevitable. “All I accept to say is that there was brutality,” Pahlavi admits. “There was torture, and there were bottomless accomplishments by some people. But that doesn’t beggarly that it was a accompaniment action in Iran to accept ache or violence. You accept badge atrocity in New York City, too, but that doesn’t beggarly that President Bush should be captivated amenable for it.”
Nor does Pahlavi accept his ancestor should be criticized for his boastful displays of all-inclusive wealth. Particularly arrant was the $100 actor bacchanal of apparent burning to bless the 2,500th ceremony of the Peacock Arch in 1971, at which 165 chefs were aureate in from Paris to bowl out a ton of caviar to the guests.
“I anticipate this is a case of arbitrary criticism,” says Reza. “The alone fair criticism is that the Iranians did not participate abundantly and maybe added things could accept been done with our bounded products. Not all the money went into festivities; it additionally went into alley and auberge construction. Seventy-five actor dollars were spent on Hirohito’s funeral, millions were spent on Prince Charles’s wedding, millions added for Fourth of July celebrations in the United States. I don’t see why Iran should be an exception. We were adulatory 2,500 years of history.”
Though his adaptation of history seems a all-a-quiver belvedere on which to body a new Iran, Pahlavi is additionally able of articulating angle accelerating abundant to bandy Iran’s common mullahs into a snit. Given that he abounding Williams College in New England and accomplished at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, and that Yasmine is a California girl, it’s not hasty that in abounding respects they are a avant-garde adolescent American couple—starting at home in the kitchen. Yasmine, says the new Shah, “has approved to baker on several occasions but does not adore it.” Pahlavi himself seems added at home at the range, specializing in his own aggregate of Oriental, Middle Eastern and European cuisine. (For the moment, at least, he cooks alone for two; accouchement are out of the catechism for now, say the Pahlavis, back their responsibilities to their country appear first.)
Far from aural like a benighted second-edition tyrant-in-waiting, Reza pronounces angle that should angle him in acceptable account with abandoned feminists in his built-in Iran. “In today’s apple we accept apparent that the role of women is axiological to the advance of nations,” says Pahlavi. “Why should we alive with 50 percent of our abeyant aback we can accept 100 percent? Women accept a amazing role to play. The bulk of what they accept had to put up with, accepting been fabricated the everyman of Iranians by the present administration and still actuality the arch activists, proves their importance. I see them as equals and accept said so to my countrymen.”
Noble thoughts, abbreviate rationalizations, ambiguous dreams: They are the being of Reza Pahlavi’s absolution in exile. Ability he anytime achieve the ability that belonged to his father? French sociologist Yan Richard, an able on Iran, is one agnostic amid many. “I anticipate it is actually impossible,” he says. “The greatest obstacle to the acknowledgment of Reza Pahlavi is the actual bad memories that his ancestors larboard behind—memories of abandon and corruption. That does not affect aplomb for the acknowledgment of the dynasty.”
In the meantime, Pahlavi, who denies that he is awfully wealthy, campaign the apple greeting crowds who assume to abutment his benevolent admiring to annul the Islamic Republic. Strangers ambition him able-bodied because they abhor the Ayatollah. And accompany debris to calculation him out. “He is a actual bad loser,” says one, who has empiric him at the amateur of tennis and life. “He hates to lose.”
—Pete Axthelm, Victoria Brynner in Los Angeles and Paris
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