x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ali Reza: lost himself in the Iranian revolution

The younger son of the Shah of Iran had trouble finding his way in life after the Islamic Revolution.

As with the other members of Iran's royal family, the younger son of the late Shah Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, Ali Reza, never recovered from the family's spectacular fall from grace and subsequent exile in 1979 as a result of the Islamic Revolution.

As young children the four Pahlavis had enjoyed insuperable privileges, having the run of several palaces, a personal zoo and their own private school. When this halcyon period came to an abrupt end - when Ali Reza was just 13 - they were utterly bewildered. As Ayatollah Khomeini stepped into power in Iran, the former ruler and his family were forced to throw themselves on the mercy of others. Egypt was the only country that would give them shelter and the shock of losing his status and country combined with cancer to hasten the Shah to his death the following year.

This loss, combined with the death of his sister Leila in a London hotel nine years ago, proved a significant catalyst for Ali Reza's own decline into a deep depression. After his father's death he had moved to America, where in 1988 he graduated with a degree in music from Princeton University. He spent the following four years studying for his master's degree in ancient Iranian studies. He went on to undertake post-graduate studies at Harvard but did not complete his degree.

Instead, increasingly, he shuttered himself away in his Boston brownstone, nurturing a sense of abandonment, commonly felt throughout the exile community.

Although he did not share the abiding ambition of his older brother to become a future shah of Iran, he did once comment that his "unique mission in life" was to bring "freedom and democracy" to his homeland. He declined to comment after the 2009 disputed elections maintained Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidency.

Once named as one of the world's most eligible bachelors, he was engaged to be married in 2001, but gradually the relationship fell apart.

Born April 28, 1966; died January 4, 2011.

* The National