Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran

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Today marks the centenary of the birth of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, who was born on this day in 1919. The eldest son of Reza Shah Pahlavi and Tadj ol-Molouk, he was not born a Prince, but a commoner as his father didn’t overthrow the Qajar Dynasty until 1925. Growing up in Iran, he was educated in Switzerland and then went to a military academy in Tehran. He came to power in 1941, after a  Anglo-Soviet invasion forced the abdication of his father, and led Iran though a period of rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms in the White Revolution which transformed Iran into a global power. In 1938, he married Princess Fawzia of Egypt, with whom he had one daughter before their divorce in 1948. He was married to Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari from 1951 to 1958, divorcing due to the lack of a male heir, before he married Farah Diba in 1959, with whom he had four children, including the current Crown Prince Reza. The Shah, who lavish crowned himself the Shāhanshāh (King of Kings) in 1967, gradually lost the support of the Shi’a clergy and the educated middle class through his modernisation and government corruption, most notably the lavish celebrations to mark 2,500 years of the Persian Empire in 1971, which coupled with strong American influence, which had transformed into a revolution by 1979, forcing him to leave Iran, soon after which the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic. The Shah, already suffering from cancer, was refused to settle in Morocco, the Bahamas, Mexico, and the United States, eventually dying in exile in Egypt in 1980.

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