On July 26th, a popular London-based TV satellite station called Man o To (Me and You), best-known for adapting Western formats to Iranian audiences, broadcast a long documentary based on conversations with the former empress. “From Tehran to Cairo”, as the programme is called, tells the story of the royal couple, from their flight until the shah’s death from cancer in the Egyptian capital, where Egypt’s then president, Anwar Sadat, was the only leader to behave generously to an old ally. The day after the broadcast, the chatter in Tehran was of little else.
To judge by responses on the internet, she struck a chord. One young woman confessed regretfully that she had played the role of “Evil Queen Farah” in a school play. Another, a student at the women’s university that the empress founded (her name since expunged), paid tribute to her promotion of Persian culture. There was pathos, too, since the ex-queen has lost two of her four children to suicide in the past 11 years.