Soraya and the Shah

On 12 February 1951 Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari  married Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.

Princess Soraya of Iran (1932 –2001) was Queen of Iran, the second wife the Shah, and an actress.
In 1948 she was introduced to the recently divorced Iranian ruler through a photograph. When he saw the picture of that beautiful dark-haired, emerald-eyed teenager, he was smitten. They met at a dinner after which, at 2 in the morning, the Shah telephoned her father to ask for her hand
When they became officially engaged, she was given a 22.37 carat diamond ring.
The couple set the date of December 27th, 1950 as their wedding day, but Soraya suddenly fell ill with typhoid and the ceremony was postponed.
They were married on the 12th of February 1951 : the wedding ceremony took place at the famous Hall of Mirrors at Marble Palace, Teheran, decorated with myriads of orchids, tulips and carnations, sent by plane from the Netherlands.
The bride wore a wedding dress consisting of 37 yards of silver lame with 20,000 feathers and with pearls and diamond pieces sewn on , designed by Christian Dior.
Seven years after that fairy-tale marriage she was repudiated by her husband because she was unable to bear him an heir to the throne
Soraya came to live in Italy where she rented a villa located among vineyards, thirty minutes from Rome. She began travelling from Rome to Cologne, to Munich, to Paris, to Rome to Monaco and she eventually ended up in Rome again. Here she had a brief career as a film actress and starred in the film “Three faces of a woman“(1965) directed by Bolognini, Antonioni and Franco Indovina.
Princess Soraya fell in love with Indovina and, after he separated from his wife, they spent five happy years together until 1972 when he was killed in a plane crash.
Once more heartbroken, Soraya spent the remainder of her life in Europe, until her death, in Paris, in 2001.
Known as the “princess with the sad eyes”, Soraya lived a lonely existence as a queen in exile for the last three decades of her life. Envied, then pitied, she was the Princess Diana of her day, succumbing to depression, as outlined in her 1991 autobiography, “Le Palais Des Solitudes”, meaning “The Palace of Loneliness”.


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