Egyptian Vivien Leigh and last Iranian Shah

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Egyptian Vivien Leigh and last Iranian Shah

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, was known as a connoisseur of woman's beauty. In his youth, he studied in the prestigious boarding school Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland, and when he returned home, his father strongly recommended a 19-year-old son to marry an Egyptian princess in order to strengthen regional contacts.

Pahlavi's choice fell on Fawzia Fuad, 17-year-old daughter of Fuad I, the Sultan of Egypt and Sudan. She was extraordinary beautiful. One of Fawzia's great-grandfathers was Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Major-General Muhammad Sharif Pasha, who was of Turkish origin; one of her great-great-grandfathers was Joseph Anthelme Sève, a French army officer who served under Napoleon, converted to Islam, oversaw an overhaul of the Egyptian army, and received a new name Suleiman Pasha al-Faransawi (French Suleiman).

Princess Fawzia, like her future husband, was educated in Switzerland, and was fluent in French and English. Reza and Fawzia were engaged in May 1938, and a year later they got married and lived at the Marble Palace in Tehran. Reza was preparing to become a shah; Fawzia was engaged in charity work and led the newly founded Association for the Protection of Pregnant Women and Children (APPWC) in Iran. On October 27, 1940, she gave birth to a daughter, Shahnaz.

But two years later, Fawzia appeared on the cover of the Life magazine, who described her as an "Asian Venus with a perfect heart-shaped face and strangely pale but piercing blue eyes".

But the marriage was not a success - in 1942 the princess obtained a divorce and moved to Cairo. There were various rumors about the reasons for the divorce. Some said that Reza was not quite wealthy as a man, others, on the contrary, argued that he was unfaithful. Probably, the second version is closer to the truth, since Reza was married twice after the first marriage.

Fawzia was forced to leave little princess Shahnaz in Tehran and suffered depression. After her return to Cairo, Fawzia become heir to the Egyptian throne again.

The princess married a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge and Egyptian minister of war and the navy, Colonel Ismail Chirine. In 1950, they had a girl named Nadia Chirine. In 1955, Fawzia provided Ismail with a heir - Husain Cherine Effendi. Ismail died in 1994, and Fawzia outlived him by almost 20 years. She passed away on July 2, 2013.

The fate of Reza Pahlavi was more dramatic - the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the Iranian Shah. He bounced from country to country, lived in Morocco, the Bahamas, Mexico, the U.S. and died in Cairo, near which Fawzia lived with her new husband.

The daughter of Reza and  Fawzia , Princess Shahnaz, has been living in Switzerland for many years. She was married twice, has three children. On October 27, Shahnaz will celebrate her 78th birthday.

Shahnaz Pahlavi with her husband and daughter in Washington. 1961