Note: This is a piece, not fact, not necessarily fiction, time and detail has been shifted to suit a purpose, largely an attention getting ploy, designed to help our own Prince, Reza Pahlavi see and make sense of a destiny that apparently others around him, will not let him see.
In better words, Mr. Pahlavi can also choose to pay the mere $12.50 and go and see Madagascar 2. Because the answer to the question haunting him all these years, is right there, in perfect detail, in full hilarious American color.
The Prince walked into the room as he did each morning. He was reading the internet from his computer, as he privately slurped the ruby colored hot sweet tea, as he did each morning. In one of the websites, he saw a picture of his father, the King in his younger days. He looked at the framed picture of his father on his desk, and remembered how differently his Father had looked then, compared to just before he died…
Once upon a time, there was a King of a Land. Actually he wasn’t really a King. Years before he became King, his father, a stern and defiant Colonel in the calvary of the mighty army of the Land, upon losing a terrible battle to an evil kingdom to the north, decided that the embarrassing loss was the result and fault of the old King who had become fat and corrupt and greedy. The angry Colonel decided he had to save the Land. So he overthrew the Old King, and proclaimed himself the New King.
That is how his son became the King. Deep in his heart though, the young King had never really wanted to be King. He secretly wanted to be a graceful dancer. But when you are the son of a stern and angry Colonel with little patience for such silly surprises, you can’t really tell your Father. So like the dutiful son he had been raised to be, he dutifully, reluctantly, but secretly sadly, took his place on the throne. He was always sad that he had not been able to pursue his real dream, as a dancer.
His secret passion slowly grew and manifested itself in the many grand productions he would plan for his kingdom and his court. Elaborate state dinners hosted the most powerful leaders of the world, with the finest wines and the most exotic dishes of the finest pheasants under the finest glass, were appetized by the finest delicate sturgeon roe.
Each time his productions became grander and grander. A gilded carriage drove him through the streets of the Land to his coronation, long flowing jeweled and mink fur trimmed robes and trains of the finest silks and velvet adorned his slender dancer’s body, and he gracefully walked alone, a slender soldier’s sword swooped dangerously down his side, down the long handwoven carpeted aisle he walked slowly, lined by his bowing ministers and generals wearing short jackets and tails with sashes hiding their fast growing bellies, towards a tall, ruby, emerald, and diamond encrusted feather crested crown. The crown had been designed by himself and made by the finest jewelers in the world. Because there was no precedent in the Land, he placed the crown on his head, himself. He then seated himself on the throne. A majestic ancient throne whose jewels and gold designs were arranged to appear like the plumage of a peacock. A Peacock throne.
After many previous wives had failed to give him the all-important male heir to his throne, the day finally came when a son was born. All the Land now eagerly looked upon the angelic face of their future King, a true Prince!
The Prince was put into the mill of training, designed for such a Prince of such a Land. The best teachers were brought from around the world to teach the Prince the skills and knowledge he would need to master as King, and he was given every learning consideration available. Like his father he loved to fly and became a skilled pilot, like his father.
As the years went by, the King became increasingly bored with the increasingly mundane duties of being a King of the Land, and as often happens in metaphorically symbolic fairy tale stories like this one, whenever you use the word increasingly too much, slowly his enemies grew and drew their evil plans against the King.
The plans culminated into a full scheme, sometime after the King’s greatest production yet, a full pageant and procession depicting the entire history of the Land from the very first King, through 2500 years of the Land, each successive dynasty and it’s accomplishments were depicted in a long procession. Accurate in every detail, the soldiers of past dynasties, their uniforms, and traits, behaviors and customs of each era were meticulously re-enacted. The largest assembly of the leaders of every country in the world attended in silk tents designed and erected especially for this momentous event that lasted for several days. The world had literally stopped. Everyone had come to see the King’s greatest show!
The King’s enemies realizing their opportunity, slyly and secretly began to suggest and monger the rumors that the King had become too preoccupied with pageants and pomp and had become unfit to lead the Land. Upon hearing this, the King immediately ordered one of his trusted Generals to quell the rumors and bring the culprits quietly to the justice they deserved for their disloyalty.
Having been through this once before, when the frail old man, a Prince from the previous dynasty, that the King’s father had overthrown, who had now become a powerful politician, had tried to shift the King’s power to the Parliament. The King mistook this as a threat against the Kingdom, rather than a giving to the people of the Land their Voice, as the Old Prince had intended. The General had been called, and promptly arrested the Old Prince and after a quick trial, had him banished forever. This time again, as the last, the General swept in and began to arrest and jail anyone who had been suspected of spreading the slightest rumors. The King’s enemies had exactly prepared for this exact response, and used it to make matters even worse for the King, while they remained safely hid. The rumors of widespread false imprisonment and the ruthless general and his Secret Police filled the streets and homes of the people in the Land, and soon, all the Land became terrified of the King that they had once loved.
As all of this was happening, the Prince had been happily busy with his studies, learning all the world’s knowledge. All the while unbeknownst to him, that his future throne and empire was slowly but surely crumbling under his feet.
One day, the King’s enemies finally feeling strong and brave enough, convinced their followers to take to the streets in the Land and started a protest march against the King and his now infamous Generals and their Secret Police. The army was called out and soon a battle began and smoke filled the air. The army quickly put the march to rest, killing some of the protesters, and the King’s enemies were satisfied and emboldened knowing that the people of the Land would now never stand for this, and the time was getting closer and closer, and soon the King would fall, and be gone, and out of their way.
One smoke filled morning, the Prince was woken and told that the family would be going away. The Queen and all the younger princes and princesses, along with the Prince were quickly and quietly hustled out of the palace and taken to the airport where they boarded one of the royal planes and with a last salute, left the Land. The flight was quiet except for the fidgeting conversations of the children. The King sat quietly with his hand on his chin. He was half-sad, but also half-relieved, as he looked out of the cabin window down to the rapidly shrinking ground, as he left his throne, his kingdom, and the Land. Forever, to dance no more.
…the Prince’s gaze was suddenly stopped by a sharp knock on the door as the old secretary pardoned himself, once again for interrupting. The Prince had been preparing for his daily briefing, like he always did. And like he always did whenever left alone with his thoughts, his gaze had drifted to the past, as he became trapped again and again, always trying to solve the same problem whose solution always seemed to escape. He tried to fathom as he revisited the past in his mind. Dumbfounded, he had played the film in his head a million times over, ever since his father had died, now almost 25 years ago. How could this have possibly happened? Had his father and now he, been too busy preparing to rule, that they had precisely forgotten to do so? Had the Old Prince been right?
The briefing began as it always did. The old secretary carefully noting the day’s activities and after the calendar was set, proceeded to list the same list of the many wrongs that the new Leaders of the Land had committed against the people of the Land. Always that the people were not free. The old secretary carefully made sure to list only the wrongs, oblivious that the Prince by now knew exactly why he did so. As the secretary went on about crimes, and obligations, and duties, and events, and appointments, the Prince drifted once again into the deep pool of his thoughts, that held him trapped all these years in exile.
Although the King had always intended to bestow the throne upon his deserving and well-prepared son, he never had the chance to do so. After the first few years in exile, the King had become a refugee, being refused sanctuary by the very same leaders of the world he had hosted with such gracious pageantry before, who had now become fearful of the new Leaders of the Land and the threats of what they might do. Then, one day the King became ill. Cancer, emboldened by his own guilt of failure and regret, conspired with the King’s enemies, and together they brought down the last King of the Land. Quickly and quietly, the King died.
The Prince made the tearful announcement of his father’s passing, in an empty ballroom in one of the countries of one of the braver leaders, and friend of his father, to a single television camera that recorded the Prince’s announcement, intended to be broadcast later, to the people of the Land. It was never broadcast. The people of the Land read about the news as written by the new Leaders of the Land, never to hear the Prince’s words, and the new Leaders of the Land rejoiced quietly at the King’s passing.
After his father died, the Prince tried to become a voice of opposition against the new Leaders of the Land, offering every single sound answer, idea, and suggestion, that all the years of his intensive training and extensive education could muster.
Save, the one.
The Prince spoke only privately with every single leader of the world, many of whom remembered and spoke fondly of his father and his famous pageants, but who were still afraid of the new Leaders of the Land. He consulted with the most brilliant minds of the day. To each, the Prince reported the many wrongs that the old secretary had drilled into his head each year since, and he pleaded with everyone who would listen, hoping they would help him find a way to right the great wrong. They looked at him silently and always anonymously, gave him many answers, ideas, and solutions.
Save, the one.
…the Prince once again blinked back to the present, and aimed the dark bows of his eyebrows back down to his briefing papers and returned from the clouds, to listen to the secretary’s daily report. When the matters of the day were concluded, he thanked his father’s old servant, like he always did, and went about his day. Like he always did.
The people of the Land, now preoccupied with a new pageantry, pomp, and productions of the new Leaders of the Land, slowly and quietly and fearfully began to look angrily at the daily examples of greed, corruption, and oppression, that had been born and bred, since the King left. Now after more than 30 years, so eager to wipe away any memory of the King, the Leaders of the Land had hoped that the people had by now forgotten the King. As soon as they had come to power, they contrived a war, with the kingdom to the west, stoked as a scheme, to keep the people busy, and above all, tame and fearful. The war had lasted far longer and killed far more people than even the Leaders expected, leaving a generation of fatherless youth, who having been raised by silenced, mute and answerless mothers, now looked upon the Leaders with shame and bitterness at what the Land had become. Whenever they saw or read anything about the Prince, they became even more strangely curious about a mysteriously erased history of the Prince and the King.
The strangest sense of familiar puzzlement, curiosity, awakened by the very attempts of the Leaders to hide the films, photographs, and history lessons of the King’s era and his pageants, was growing. The new generals and the new secret police, who had replaced the old generals and the old secret police, perfecting upon their practiced, perfected plans, had arrested everyone and anyone who asked the un-askable. Especially the merest question, “Why?”
All of this though, was always strangely, subtly, somewhere, buried deep, within the old secretary’s daily report. As if hidden in a secret language, within the daily briefing papers, and report by the Old Secretary, buried too deep for the Prince to read or hear or understand. The one single solution to the problem he had been trying to solve for all these years, was always right there in front of him!
And so he went, each morning the same as before, the secretary’s 30 year monotone voice reporting the day’s news, the week’s schedule, and the bitter opinions of an old servant, trapped and sent the Prince drifting off once again, into the deep pools of the past. Occasionally nodding at the old man seated properly in front of him.
Like he always did.