A man who made—and unmade—
more friends for Imperial Iran than any other.
— Chairman, British-Iranian Group,
House of Commons, London
One result of the Shah’s visit to London was that I got to know the most energetic and olympian Iranian of any of the hundreds I have met. Ardeshir Zahedi was married to the Shah’s oldest daughter, princess Shahnaz. It was he who had taken the lead in finding a new wife for the Shah when having divorced Soraya, his second childless wife, the Shah was on the look-out for a new lady to share his throne. In Paris, Ardeshir found and introduced to the Shah a tall, good-looking Persian art student named Farah Diba. Aged eighteen, Farah accepted the Shah’s hand and went on to bear two royal daughters and the crown prince, Reza Pahlavi.
Ardeshir Zahedi by any measure was—and still is—one of the most extraordinary figures to have occupied the center stage of Iranian politics and diplomacy over the past fifty years. The son of Prime Minister Zahedi who toppled Mohammed Mosaddegh, he was twice ambassador to the United States, ambassador to Britain, and before the revolution, the most powerful of Iran’s foreign ministers. Yet what gave and still gives him a special place in the loves and hates of Iranians is his warm heart, his brutal honesty, above all his compulsive generosity, a quality that for me is the most attractive of Persian characteristics. Ardeshir is an Iranian patrician. He was brought up to ride and shoot on his family’s estate at Hamadan before he was seven years of age. As a schoolboy, he wore German-style uniforms and organized anti-British protests; as a student at Utah State University,