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Isfahan, Persia Iran
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Soraya was introduced to the recently divorced Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in Paris in 1948 by Forough Zafar Bakhtiari, a relative, when she was still a student at a Swiss finishing school. Soon engaged (the Shah gave her a 22.37 carat (4.474 g) diamond engagement ring).
She married him at Golestan Palace in Tehran on February 12, 1951; originally, the couple had planned to wed on 27 December 1950, but the ceremony had to be postponed due to the bride being ill.
Though the Shah announced that guests should donate money to a special charity for the Iranian poor, among the wedding gifts was a mink coat and a desk set with black diamonds sent by Joseph Stalin, a Steuben glass Bowl of Legends designed by Sidney Waugh and sent by U.S. President and Mrs. Truman, and silver Georgian candlesticks from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and the 2,000 guests included Aga Khan III.
The ceremony was decorated with 1.5 tonnes of orchids, tulips, and carnations, sent by plane from the Netherlands, and entertainment included an equestrian circus sent from Rome. The bride wore a silver lamé gown studded with pearls and trimmed with marabou stork feathers,designed for the occasion by Christian Dior. She also wore a full-length female white-mink cape.
Though the wedding took place during a heavy snow, deemed a good omen, the imperial couple`s marriage had disintegrated by early 1958 over Soraya`s apparent infertility, for which she had sought treatment in Switzerland and France, and the Shah`s suggestion that he take a second wife in order to produce an heir. She left Iran in February and eventually went to her parents` home in Cologne, Germany, where the Shah sent his wife`s uncle Senator Sardar Assad Bakhtiari in early March 1958, in a failed attempt to convince her to return to Iran. On 10 March, a council of advisors met with the Shah to discuss the situation of the troubled marriage and the lack of an heir. Four days later, it was announced that the imperial couple would divorce. It was, the 25-year-old queen said, "a sacrifice of my own happiness." She later told reporters that her husband had no choice but to divorce her.
On 21 March 1958, the Iranian New Year`s Day, a weeping Shah announced his divorce to the Iranian people in a speech that was broadcast on radio and television and said that he would not remarry in haste. The headline-making divorce inspired French songwriter Françoise Mallet-Jorris to write a hit pop song, Je veux pleurer comme Soraya (I Want to Cry Like Soraya). The marriage was officially ended on April 6, 1958.
According to a report in The New York Times, extensive negotiations had preceded the divorce in order to convince Queen Soraya to allow her husband to take a second wife. The Queen, however, citing what she called the "sanctity of marriage", stated that "she could not accept the idea of sharing her husband`s love with another woman."
In a statement issued to the Iranian people from her parents` home in Germany, Soraya said, "Since His Imperial Majesty Riza [sic] Shah Pahlevi [sic] has deemed it necessary that a successor to the throne must be of direct descent in the male line from generation to generation to generation, I will with my deepest regret in the interest of the future of the State and of the welfare of the people in accordance with the desire of His Majesty the Emperor sacrifice my own happiness, and I will declare my consent to a separation from His Imperial Majesty."
After the divorce, the Shah, who told a reporter who asked about his feelings for the former Queen that "nobody can carry a torch longer than me", indicated his interest in marrying Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, a daughter of the deposed Italian king Umberto II. In an editorial about the rumors surrounding the marriage of "a Muslim sovereign and a Catholic princess", the Vatican newspaper, L`Osservatore Romano, considered the match "a grave danger."
Granted the style and title Her Imperial Highness the Princess Soraya of Iran, the former queen moved to France.
Princess Soraya launched a brief career as a film actress, for which she used only her first name. Initially, it was announced that she would portray Catherine the Great in a movie about the Russian empress by Dino De Laurentiis, but that project fell through. Instead, she starred in the 1965 movie I tre volti (The Three Faces) and became the companion of its Italian director, Franco Indovina (1932–1972). She also appeared as a character named Soraya in the 1965 movie She.
After Indovina`s death in a plane crash, she spent the remainder of her life unhappily, by her own admission, wandering through Europe, buying antiques and couture, appearing at social events in a desultory fashion.
Princess Soraya of Iran died of undisclosed causes in her apartment in Paris, France; she was 69. After a funeral at the American Cathedral in Paris on 6 November 2001 R
Full Name at Birth
Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari
Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiary (Persian:ثریا اسفندیاری بختیاری, Sorayâ Esfandiyâri-Baxtiyâri; 22 June 1932 – 26 October 2001) was an actress, and the queen consort (Shahbanu) of Iran as the second wife of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
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Claim to Fame
was Queen of Iran
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