Empress Farah Pahlavi (Diba)
A promoter of art and women emancipation
Empress Farah Pahlavi (Diba)
Shahbanoo (Empress) Farah Pahlavi (Diba) was born on October 14, 1938 in Tehran, the only daughter of Sohrab Diba, who passed away when she was only nine years old. An Iranian Army officer, her father was also a law graduate of the Sorbonne and the famed French military Academy of St. Cyr. The Diba (Persian for "silk") family came from Azerbaijan and the Ghotbi clan who lived on the Caspian coast of Gilan. Her mother, Farideh Diba, personally supervised her education, first at Tehran's Jeanne d'Arc and Razi schools, and later at the Ecole d'Architecture in Paris, where she was studying up to the time of her marriage to the Mohammad Reza Shah. Her love for architecture would continue throughout her later life.
The Iranian ambassador in France invited her and several other Parisian colleagues to meet the Shah, there on a private visit. She complained to the Shah that Iranian currency restrictions made life for students abroad difficult. She repeated the complaint a year later to Ardeshir Zahedi, the son-in-law to the Shah by his first daughter Shahnaz. The Shah met her again, this time over tea, and proposed to her and she accepted. They were married later on December 21, 1959, which took place at the Marble Palace in Tehran.
Farah pursued her interests in social work, the emancipation of women, sport and art but this time as Shahbanoo of Iran. Most of her time was devoted to the promotion of social welfare and culture, and she was patron of 24 educational, health, cultural and charity organizations. In addition to supervising the work of these organizations in Tehran, she paid visits to even the remote parts of Iran to obtain first-hand knowledge of the life of farmers and ordinary people. Apart from accompanying her husband the Shahanshah on official visits abroad, the Shahbanoo has also paid a number of official and semi-official visits to foreign countries in Europe, America, Africa and Asia.
Empress Farah & Mohammad Reza Shah
Shahbanoo Farah's deep interest and personal involvement in the arts have been largely responsible for Iran's cultural many cultural movements and her frequent visits to art exhibitions and performances gave fresh incentive to all Iranian artistic activities. She supported young Iranian artists through her personal endeavors, and was a driving force behind a number of specialized art museums and other projects to preserve and publicize ancient and traditional art and architecture.
Should the name of the Shahbanoo remain tied to only two spheres of action in Iran, it would certainly be the one of culture and that of the emancipation of women. During her reign, women played an increasingly important role in public life. Parliament deputies, senators, ministers, ambassador, lawyers, judges etc., women were in all high national and local instances and occupied important positions in all areas of the administration. The emancipation of women as well as the economic and social reforms which took place deeply modified the structures of Iranian society.
She gave birth to four children: Reza II on October 31, 1960; Farahnaz on March 12, 1963; Alireza on April 28, 1966 and Leila on March 27, 1970.
After the fall of Shah and Islamic Revolution of 1979, Farah Pahlavi (Diba) is living in exile in France.