Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran

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Reza Pahlavi
Crown Prince of Iran
Reza Pahlavi by Gage Skidmore.jpg
During an event in Tempe, Arizona in 2015
Head of the House of Pahlavi
Tenure27 July 1980 – present
Proclamation31 October 1980 [1]
Predecessor Mohammad Reza Shah
Heir presumptive Patrick Ali
Yasmine Pahlavi (m. 1986)
Issue Princess Noor
Princess Iman
Princess Farah
Full name
English: Reza Pahlavi
Persian: رضا پهلوی
House Pahlavi
Father Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mother Farah Diba
Religion Shia Islam [2]
Personal details
Born (1960-10-31) 31 October 1960 (age 58)
Tehran, Iran
Political party National Council of Iran
Residence Bethesda, Maryland, U.S. [2]
Alma mater Williams College (dropped-out)
The American University in Cairo (dropped-out)
University of Southern California
Signature Reza Pahlavi II signature.svg

Reza Pahlavi (Persian : رضا پهلوی; born 31 October 1960) is the last heir apparent [3] to the defunct throne of the Imperial State of Iran and is the current head of the exiled House of Pahlavi. He is the older son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Farah Diba.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in a line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting by the birth of another person. An heir presumptive, by contrast, is someone who is first in line to inherit a title but who can be displaced by the birth of a more eligible heir.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 20th-century Shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilisation" in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms.


Pahlavi is the founder and former leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran, an exiled opposition group, [4] and is a prominent critic of Iran's Islamic Republic government. In September 2017, Pahlavi left his position as the leader of the National Council of Iran. [5]

National Council of Iran

The National Council of Iran, officially the National Council of Iran for Free Elections, is a loosely based umbrella group of the exiled opposition to Iran's Islamic Republic government. It serves as Reza Pahlavi's government in exile in order to either reclaim the former throne or as the new president of Iran after overthrowing the current government.

The Iranian dissidents are composed of scattered groups that reject the current government and instead seek the establishment of democratic institutions.

Early life and education

Reza Pahlavi in 1973 as Crown Prince of Iran Cyrus small.JPG
Reza Pahlavi in 1973 as Crown Prince of Iran

Reza Pahlavi was born in Tehran, Iran, the eldest legitimate son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran and Farah Pahlavi, the Shahbanu of Iran. Pahlavi's siblings include his sister Princess Farahnaz Pahlavi (born 12 March 1963), brother Prince Ali-Reza Pahlavi (28 April 1966 – 4 January 2011), and sister Princess Leila Pahlavi (27 March 1970 – 10 June 2001), as well as a half-sister, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi (born 27 October 1941).

Tehran Capital city of Iran

Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.7 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area of Greater Tehran, Tehran is the most populous city in Iran and Western Asia, and has the second-largest metropolitan area in the Middle East. It is ranked 24th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area.

Legitimacy, in traditional Western common law, is the status of a child born to parents who are legally married to each other, and of a child conceived before the parents obtain a legal divorce. Conversely, illegitimacy has been the status of a child born outside marriage, such a child being known as a bastard, or love child, when such a distinction has been made from other children. In Scots law, the terminology of natural son or natural daughter has the same implications. The prefix "Fitz-" added to a surname sometimes denoted that the child's parents were not married at the time of birth.

Farah Pahlavi Empress of Iran

Farah Pahlavi is the widow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the former shahbanu (empress) of Iran.

Pahlavi studied at his eponymous "Reza Pahlavi School", a private school located in the royal palace and restricted to the family and imperial court associates. [6] He was trained as a pilot and his first solo flight was at the age of 11, obtaining his license a year later. [7]

The first solo flight of a new pilot comprises that pilot completing a take off, and usually a short flight and safe landing, by him or herself. Flying such a flight is a milestone known as soloing. Being solo pilot of an aircraft is different from most other situations in that the pilot has not only to be able to fly and navigate the machine in a competent manner but he/she also has to be able to cope with unpredictable developments like mechanical failure, bad weather etc. on his/her own and without advice from other sources.

As a cadet of the Imperial Iranian Air Force, he was sent to the United States in August 1978 to continue his pilot training. Pahlavi was one of the 43 cadet pilots in the one-year pilot training program at former U.S.A.F. Reese Base, [8] which included flying with Cessna T-37 Tweet and Northrop T-38 Talon. Due to Iranian Revolution, he departed from the base about four months sooner than supposed in March 1979. [7] [9]

Reese Technology Center

Reese Technology Center is a research and business park located on the grounds of former Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock County, Texas.

Cessna T-37 Tweet Family of military training aircraft

The Cessna T-37 Tweet is a small, economical twin-engined jet trainer type which flew for decades as a primary trainer for the United States Air Force (USAF) and in the air forces of several other nations. The T-37C was additionally capable of some light attack duties if required. The A-37 Dragonfly variant served in the light attack role during the Vietnam War and continues to serve in the air forces of several South American nations.

Northrop T-38 Talon Military advanced trainer aircraft by Northrop

The Northrop T-38 Talon is a two-seat, twinjet supersonic jet trainer. It was the world's first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2018 in several air forces.

In September 1979, Pahlavi started to study at Williams College [10] but dropped out in 1980 [11] and enrolled at The American University in Cairo as a political science student, but his attendance was irregular. [8] He obtained a BSc degree in political science by correspondence from the University of Southern California in 1985. [10]

Williams College liberal arts college in Massachusetts

Williams College is a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams, a colonist from the Province of Massachusetts Bay who was killed in the French and Indian War in 1755. The college was ranked first in 2017 in the U.S. News & World Report's liberal arts ranking for the 15th consecutive year, and first among liberal arts colleges in the 2018 Forbes magazine ranking of America's Top Colleges.

TheAmerican University in Cairo is an independent, English language, private, research university located in Cairo, Egypt. The university offers American-style learning programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels, along with a continuing education program.

University of Southern California Private research university in Los Angeles, California, United States

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research university in California. For the 2018–19 academic year, there were 20,000 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. USC also has 27,500 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, engineering, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. It is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles, and generates $8 billion in economic impact on Los Angeles and California.

Political activism in exile

Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi sworn in as Head of the House of Pahlavi in 1980 at Koubbeh Palace, Cairo. Crpcairo.jpg
Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi sworn in as Head of the House of Pahlavi in 1980 at Koubbeh Palace, Cairo.
Crown Prince Reza with the Persian Community in the Netherlands, May 2012 Prince-Reza-Pahlavi-Meeting-with-Persian-Community-Holland-The-Hague-31May2012.jpg
Crown Prince Reza with the Persian Community in the Netherlands, May 2012

The Pahlavi dynasty was founded early in the twentieth century. The 1979 revolution replaced the monarchy with an Islamic republic. After the death of his father, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, he symbolically declared himself Shāhanshāh (literally King of Kings in Persian) at the age of 21. [12] He remains crown prince according to the former Constitution of 1906, as he is required to take the oath in the Iranian Parliament first. [13] His press releases refer to him as either "Reza Pahlavi" or "the former Crown Prince of Iran".[ citation needed ]

On his website, Pahlavi has said that the state of Iran should become democratic and secular, and human rights should be respected. Whether the form of government would be that of a constitutional monarchy or a republic is something that he would like to leave up to the people of Iran. [14] [15]

Pahlavi has used his high profile as an Iranian abroad to campaign for human rights, democracy and unity among Iranians in and outside Iran. [16] On his website he calls for a separation of religion and state in Iran and for free and fair elections "for all freedom-loving individuals and political ideologies". He exhorts all groups dedicated to a democratic agenda to work together for a democratic and secular Iranian government. [17]

According to Reza Bayegan, Pahlavi believes in the separation of religion from politics. However, he avoids the "Islam bashing" that Bayegan writes occurs in some circles of the Iranian opposition. Rather, he believes that religion has a humanizing and ethical role in shaping individual character and infusing society with greater purpose. [18]

In February 2011, after violence erupted in Tehran, Pahlavi said that Iran's youth were determined to get rid of an authoritarian government tainted by corruption and misrule in the hope of installing a democracy. "Fundamental and necessary change is long overdue for our region and we have a whole generation of young Egyptians and Iranians not willing to take no for an answer", he told The Daily Telegraph . "Democratisation is now an imperative that cannot be denied. It is only a matter of time before the whole region can transform itself." [19]

Pahlavi's book Winds of Change: The Future of Democracy in Iran, in which he outlines possible scenarios for Iran's future, was published in 2002. [20]

In June 2018, he made this comment: "I believe Iran must be a secular, parliamentary democracy. The final form has to be decided by the people." [21] In a presentation at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in December 2018, Pahlavi called for non-military support of those in Iran who were trying to replace the Islamist regime with a secular democracy. According to a news report, he was "not openly calling for the restoration of the Peacock Throne ... He casts himself more as a symbol than a politician, but has called himself 'ready to serve my country'". [22]


Reza Pahlavi II is first in the line of succession to his late father, while his younger brother Ali-Reza Pahlavi II was second in line until he committed suicide in 2011. [23] (Prior to 1960, the presumptive heir was Patrick Ali Pahlavi.)

Public support

Support within Iran

A report published by the Brookings Institution in 2009 said that Pahlavi lacked an organized following within Iran since there was no serious monarchist movement in Iran itself. The report described Pahlavi as having "little in common with the intellectuals and students who make up the core of the reform movement". [24]

However, during 2017–18 Iranian protests, some demonstrators chanted slogans in favor of Pahlavi's grandfather and called for his return. [25] [26] After the January 2018 protests, and Donald Trump's anti-Iran rhetoric, Pahlavi and pro-monarchy sentiment experienced a resurgence in Iran. [27] [28]

Support among Iranian expatriates

Pahlavi enjoys wide popularity with the older generation of Iranian expatriates that left Iran at the time of the 1979 revolution and with some people in Iran. [29] [ better source needed ] In 2006, Connie Bruck of The New Yorker wrote that Los Angeles is home to about 600,000 Iranian expatriates, and said it was a monarchist stronghold. [30]

A 2013 survey of Iranian-Americans conducted by George Mason University's Center for Social Science Research found that 79% of respondents did not support any Iranian opposition groups or figures. Of the 15% that did, only 20% supported him. [31]

Alleged foreign support

Crown Prince Reza with US President Jimmy Carter in 1978 Crown Prince Reza of Iran and US President Jimmy Carter, 1978.jpg
Crown Prince Reza with US President Jimmy Carter in 1978

Bob Woodward wrote in 1986 that the Reagan administration authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to support and fund Iranian exiles, including Pahlavi. The agency transmitted his 11-minute speech during which he vowed "I will return" to Iranian television by pirating its frequency. [32] The Tower Commission report, published in 1987, acknowledged that the CIA was behind this event. [33] In 2006, Connie Bruck of The New Yorker wrote that "Pahlavi had CIA funding for a number of years in the eighties, but it ended after the Iran-Contra scandal". [30] Andrew Freedman of Haverford College states that Pahlavi began cooperation with the CIA after he met director William J. Casey and received a monthly stipend, citing Pahlavi's financial advisor and other observers. Freedman also connects his residence in Great Falls, Virginia to its proximity to George Bush Center for Intelligence, headquarters of the service. [34]

In 2009, Pahlavi denied receiving U.S. government aid or any foreign aid in an interview with The New York Times . Pahlavi said "No, no. I don't rely on any sources other than my own compatriots" and denied allegations of working with the CIA, calling the allegations "absolutely and unequivocally false". [2] However, in 2017 he told Jon Gambrell of the Associated Press: "I will find any means that I can... with anyone who is willing to give us a hand, whether it is the U.S. or the Saudis or the Israelis or whomever it is". [35]

Personal life

According to a People obituary published in 1978, Pahlavi dated a "blond, blue-eyed Swedish model he met in Rome". He lived with his girlfriend while living in Lubbock, Texas. [36] As of 1980, he had an Egyptian girlfriend who was a student of The American University in Cairo, reportedly "closely guarded" by bodyguards. [8]

Pahlavi began a relationship with Yasmine Etemad-Amini in 1985, and a year later married her, then aged 17, at 25 years of age. [10] The couple have three daughters: Noor (born April 3, 1992), Iman (born September 12, 1993), and Farah (born January 17, 2004).

In 2004, Pahlavi was named as the "unofficial godfather" of Princess Louise of Belgium, the eighth granddaughter of King Albert II of Belgium. [37]

Religious beliefs

When interviewed about religion, Pahlavi said, "That's a private matter; but if you must know, I am, of course, by education and by conviction, a Shia Muslim. I am very much a man of faith." [2] Iranian writer Reza Bayegan also notes that Crown Prince Reza is allegedly “deeply attached” to his Muslim faith. He has performed the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. [18]


Pahlavi was a keen soccer player and spectator. He was fan of the capital's football club Esteghlal, then known as Taj (lit.Crown) and his support was even televised by the National Iranian Radio and Television. The club performed in annual rallies organized on his birthday, which as a result identified the club with the Pahlavi's regime. [38]

Pahlavi has been the owner of Medina Development Company. He and his company were engaged in a civil lawsuit against a family member in the 1990s culminating in a favorable judgment in May 1997. [39]

According to a December 2018 news report however, "he is thought to live mainly on what’s left of his family wealth, his only full-time job being speaking out about Iran". [40]

Television network

In November 2014, Pahlavi founded his own television and radio network called Ofogh Iran. [41] In July 2017 it was reported that the Ofogh Iran International Media telethon no longer belongs to Reza Pahlavi. [42]


Titles, styles and honours

Styles of
Crown Prince Reza of Iran
Imperial Arms of the Crown Prince of Iran.svg
Reference style His Imperial Highness
Spoken styleYour Imperial Highness
Alternative styleSir
Standard of the Crown Prince Standard of the Crown Prince of Iran.svg
Standard of the Crown Prince

Titles and styles


National honours

Foreign honours

Other recognitions

Related Research Articles

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Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
Born: 31 October 1960
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Farah Pahlavi
as Regent in pretence
Shahanshah of Iran
Light of the Aryans

31 October 1980 – present
Reason for succession failure:
Monarchy abolished in 1979
Patrick Ali Pahlavi
Lines of succession
Title last held by
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Crown Prince of Iran
26 October 1967 – 11 February 1979
Party political offices
New title
Party established
President of National Council of Iran
April 2013 – 16 September 2017
Succeeded by
Leadership Council