Farah Diba married HIM Shah Mohammed Rezaon 21 December 1959, aged 21. The young Queen of Iran was the object of much curiosity and her wedding garnered worldwide press attention. Part I:
Shahbanu Farah Pahlavi was born on14 October 1938 in the Iranian capital Tehran, to an upper-middleclass family. Born as Farah Diba, she was the only child of Sohrab Diba and his wife,Farideh Ghotbi. Farah Pahlavi is of Azerbaijani origin In her memoir, the formerEmpress writes that her father’s family were natives of Iranian Azarbaijan whileher mother’s family were from Gilan Province on theIranian coast of the Caspian Sea.
Through her father, theShahbanu Farah came from a relatively affluent background. In the late 19thcentury her grandfather had been an accomplished diplomat, serving as theIranian Ambassador to the RomanovCourt in Moscow, Russia. Her own father wasan officer in the Imperial IranianArmed Forces and a graduate of the prestigious French MilitaryAcademy at St. Cyr.The Shahbanu Farah enjoyed an extremely close bond with her father and hisunexpected death in 1948 deeply affected her. This tragic situation furthermoreleft the young family in a difficult financial state. In these reducedcircumstances, they were forced to move from their large family villa innorthern Tehran into a sharedapartment with one of Farideh Ghotbi’s brothers.
Education and engagement
Empress Farah Pahlavibegan her education at Tehran’s Italian School, then moved to the French Jeanned’Arc School and later to the Lycee Razi. She was anaccomplished athlete in her youth and became captain of her school’s basketballteam. Upon finishing her studies at the Lycee Razi, she pursued aninterest in architecture at the École Spécialed’Architecture in Paris,where she was a student of Albert Besson.
Many Iranian students whowere studying abroad at this time were dependent on State sponsorship in orderto do so. Therefore when the Shah,as head of state, made official visits to foreign countries, he wouldfrequently meet with a selection of local Iranian students. It was during sucha meeting in 1959 at the Iranian Embassyin Paris that Farah Diba wasfirst presented to Mohammed RezaPahlavi.
After returning to Tehranin the summer of 1959, the Shah and Farah Diba began a carefully choreographedcourtship, orchestrated in part by the Shah’s daughter Princess Shahnaz. Thecouple announced their engagement on 23 November 1959.
Marriage and family
Farah Diba married His ImperialMajestyShah MohammedReza on 21 December 1959, aged 21. The young Queen of Iran (as shewas styledat the time) was the object of much curiosity and her wedding garneredworldwide press attention.
The long-awaited heir, Reza Pahlavi,was born on 30 October 1960. Together the couple would go on to have fourchildren: