The Shah of Iran with his third wife Farah Diba and their children, Prince Reza, Prince Ali Reza and the two younger children, Princess Farahnaz and Princess Leila. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Iran's Pahlavi dynasty, overthrown by the Islamic revolution in 1979, has suffered another loss with the suicide of Ali Reza, the youngest son of the late shah. Pahlavi, 44, killed himself in Boston, US, after struggling with depression for years. His sister Leila died of a drug overdose in London 10 years ago.
Amid talk of recurrent tragedy, the family issued a statement blaming Pahlavi's suicide on "what was unjustly inflicted on his beloved country", adding that "he never forgot the painful memory of his father and beloved sister's deaths".
Iranian official media largely ignored the news but Press TV, the state English- language channel, noted it in a brief report headlined "Grim Destiny" and "the death of the former dictator's son". Emigres expressed their condolences.
Police in Boston said he died from a single gunshot, which was apparently self-inflicted. He is survived by his mother, the former empress Farah Pahlavi, his older brother and crown prince, Reza, his sister Farahnaz and his half-sister Shahnaz.
The shah, long supported by the US, was ousted by Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution in 1979. He died of cancer in Egypt and is buried in Cairo. Members of his family have been living in exile in the US for decades.
Ali Reza, 12 at the time of the revolution, attended primary school in Iran and was then educated in the US. He had been studying for a doctorate at Harvard.
"It's devastating news for the family regardless of where they stand politically," said Mehrdad Khonsari, a constitutional monarchist who heads the exiled opposition Green Wave movement. "This is a continuation of the kind of tragedy that has befallen them since the revolution. It just shows the strain of the adjustment that they have had to make."
Princess Ashraf, the shah's twin sister, now 91, has also suffered depression and addictions, three failed marriages, and the assassination of one of her sons.
A statement issued by the crown prince's office said: "Prince Ali Reza was intelligent, sensitive, loyal, and dedicated to Iranian civilisation, as well as to his family and friends. His counsel, wisdom and sense of humour will be profoundly missed and always cherished."
Unlike his elder brother, Ali Reza was not a political figure.
The monarchy apparently remains popular with Iranians living abroad, but has little, if any, support inside Iran. "From a nostalgic point of view they have a lot of supporters, but they are not organised," said Khonsari. "For a country that has nothing to offer but a bunch of mullahs the Pahlavis are a brand name."
Darius Kadivar wrote on the Iranian.com website: "This is a day of great tragedy. May the Prince of Persia rest in peace along with his sister."
Princess Leila Pahlavi, the shah's youngest daughter, was found dead in a London hotel in 2001, aged 31. An inquest heard that she had taken prescription drugs and cocaine. Farah, now 72, divides her time between Washington and Paris.
Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said Iranian-Americans were deeply saddened. "There are many divisions in the community, but on a day like this, we are all united in our sympathy with the Pahlavi family for their tragic and painful loss," he said.
Stephen Kinzer, an American expert on Iran, commented on the Daily Beast website: "This shocking act of self-slaughter was the latest violent tragedy in the long history of a family drenched in blood – first that of the Iranians it tortured and killed, then its own.
"It is a drama of Shakespearean dimensions. The shah once ruled Iran with an iron fist, but his family later paid dearly for his sins, echoing Hamlet's judgment that royal crime 'cannot come to good'."
from The Guardian.co.uk