In a message to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of his father’s death Iran’s exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi has referred to the tears his father shed before leaving the country.
Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran for good on a cold day on January 16, 1979, while bitterly weeping before the cameras.
As he boarded the plane to take him out of Iran, many officers of the Imperial Guard also wept, while the pro-Islamic Revolution forces led by an elderly fundamentalist Ayatollah were joyously preparing themselves to seize power.
Referring to his father's tears, Prince Reza Pahlavi noted in his video message, "Those tears are dropping today from the eyes of the poor, from the eyes of peasants, from the eyes of teachers, from the eyes of street sweepers...", who have lost economic well-being.
The Islamic Republic’s economic record has been dismal in the 41 years since the revolution. Iran has remained mainly an oil-dependent country with low economic growth, made worse by various sanctions triggered by its foreign policy and nuclear ambitions.
In the video message circulated on Saturday, July 25, Prince Reza also repeated his father's saying half a century ago about how Iran struggled for fifty years and despite all difficulties ultimately managed to modernize and move ahead.
Prince Reza has lamented in his message, "The path of progress built by my father and grandfather, horrendously collapsed,” plunging many Iranians into poverty, “the poverty that every Iranian should now pause and contemplate about."
Iran was a backward state and society in early 20th century, when the Pahlavi Dynasty came to power and its first king Reza Shah began modernizing the country. In the roughly half-century of Pahlavi rule, Iran made great strides in all walks of life except political freedoms.
When anti-monarchy protests began in 1978, Iran had a high per-capita income compared with many other developing countries, a growing educated class and strengthening equality and freedoms for women.
The last king of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi died in 1980 after being overthrown by revolutionaries in 1979 and going into exile. He was suffering from cancer and was buried in Cairo, where former Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat was his close friend.
Except Sadat no other sitting head of state attended his funeral. Even his closest allies, the United States, France, Britain, Japan, Australia, sufficed to send ambassadors.
Among the mourners was former U.S. president Richard Nixon. He described as "shameful" the absence of high-ranking foreign dignitaries and called the Shah, "a loyal friend and ally of the United States" for more than thirty years.
The Islamic Republic insists that Iran had no independence during the monarchy and people suffered economically and politically. However, the mood among anti-regime protesters in recent years shows many people now have a positive view of the Pahlavi dynasty that modernized Iran in the 20th century and was largely secular.