The Last Shah (Emperor) of Iran

Updated: Apr 24

The end of the Iranian monarchy

It was 1977 and I was 7 years old sitting in my plaid shorts, bangs and with a coke bottle. We did not have a care in the world while living in Tehran, Iran from 1975-1978. I remember visiting Mohammad Reza Shah's palace and could only think as a child I was in the glass kingdom! I was also unaware that this time period was the last Shah (Emperor) of Iran where he ruled with tyranny to those who opposed him but considered the west his allies. Americans enjoyed the freedom to move about in this beautiful country and its people before the Shah was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979 and later died of his illness in Egypt in 1982.


I learned to speak Farsi because every child desires a common language to communicate and it was a requirement in school. We often camped the Alborz Mountain range, seen from our apartment in Tehran, with our adopted American family the Nelson's (children pictured). We traveled with them sometimes by donkey and camel when our cars could not go further and camped out in deserts where we could see large Persian rugs being cleaned along riversides. John Denver seemed to always be with us on the road trips which made us feel like we were home again. We visited Shi'a mosques where we innocently stole beautifully carved prayer stones by placing them in our pockets. And we loved when our parents took us to the indoor Jomeh Bazaar's, which had lots of candy and exotic items to see and want to take home. My mother owned a chādor but often left the home without it. 


But interesting enough, I remember the sick, the crippled and less fortunate. They really caught my attention. Once while on a long mountain hike, which had a lot of goats, camels, and donkeys passing us, was the man with no body attached. Only a talking head wrapped in clothing, with perhaps the basic organs keeping him alive? I cried and he smiled and laughed with few teeth. It frightened me but it was then and there I believed in the importance of compassion for the less fortunate.


It is unfortunate that Mohammad Reza gradually lost support from the Shi'a clergy of Iran as well as the working class, particularly due to his strong policy of modernization. Today the working class of Iran seems to be desiring modernization. Looking at the state of affairs with a country I grew fond of and proud to have lived in, I fear we are continuing to head further away from the Shah's last emperor's time (although far from perfection), and continuing to head towards further distrust and bad relations. Mohammad Reza was fond of the United Kingdom and the United States. I remember my parents telling me how much our country supported him but feared he was losing ground with his own government and people. We left before the Shah was banished to Egypt, where he was given asylum and soon after died. 


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