Iranian Oral History Project | Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Hamid Kadjar

Prince and Son of Last Qajar Crown Prince


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Narrator: Hamid Kadjar
Date: November 26, 1981
Place: London, England
Interviewer: Habib Ladjevardi

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Q. Perhaps we could begin by having you describe your earliest memories of your father and his life in Europe, his memories about Iran ... and just about anything else that occurs to you I think will be very precious to anyone who will be listening to these tapes in the next 50 to 100 years.

A. Well, my memories of my father only started when I left Tabriz, as a very small child, to come to Tehran and live with him in the palace of Golestan, where he was heir to the throne. I left Iran when I was about four years old, perhaps even less, to come to Europe to be educated in England on the insistence of my father. I came with my younger sister, Aghdas, and we stopped off in Constantinople, where my grandfather, Mohammad-Ali Shah, was living at that time. He had been exiled from Iran in 1909 in favor of his son, Ahmad Shah, and at that time he went to live in Odessa, in Russia. He stayed there until the Revolution of 1918, at which time he, his wife, my two other uncles, Sultan Mahmoud and Sultan Majid, who were living with him, including my aunt, their younger sister ... (correction: she was not their younger sister, I think ... I think in fact she was in between the two brothers).... As I say, after the revolution they all came to Constantinople, where I joined them.

As my grandfather and my grandmother thought that I was too young to continue the voyage to England, they kept me there with my elder brother, Hossein Kadjar, whom I had met for the first time in my life (correction: whom I met for the first time in my life). Hossein had been born, like myself, in Tabriz, but at the age of 40 days he was sent to join our grandfather in Odessa, and so traveled with them from Russia to Constantinople when they fled. We stayed in Constantinople. And then the whole family again uprooted itself and went to San Remo in Italy, where a year or so later my grandfather died. The whole family, once again, after that event left San Remo and went to Paris. We stayed in Paris, my elder brother and I, for about another year, and at the end of that time, when I was seven years old, we finally proceeded to London, in England, arriving there when I was 25 -- correction: arriving there when I was seven years old, in 1925.

The reason why we came to England -- or rather the reason my father chose England, for us to be educated, was because he had a friend in a gentleman called Sir Percy Herron-Maxwell, whom the family had met or knew in Russia. My recollections are slightly hazy here, but Sir Percy Herron-Maxwell had been a friend, in one form or another, of the family, as he had at one time been in business in Russia and presumably at that time had connections with them.

Understandably, neither my brother nor I spoke a word of English when we arrived, and in fact spoke practically no Persian. He certainly spoke no Persian, and only, in reality, Russian. The reason I didn't speak Persian was because in the family, in Azarbaijan, the language was Turkish, and it continued. And we continued speaking in that language even after arrival in Constantinople, as my grandfather and family all spoke that language amongst themselves or, in their case, Russian, as they had been brought up in their youth in Russia. So this meant that, on being taken over by the Herron-Maxwell family, we literally spoke no English. But at that time, Lady Herron-Maxwell had started a school in Barrowheath and we joined the other young boys and girls at the school.

Q. Was anyone else with you when you came to England? Was it just yourself and your brother, or did you have...?

A. We were brought over to England by Saleh Khan Heshmat Saltaneh, whom I believe belonged to the Loghman family, and was a secretary to my father. But after having delivered us to England, he returned to Paris. All this was followed by a variety of schools, basically learning English one way or another, until we had -- by we, I mean my brother and I had -- both reached what was called at that time the Junior Cambridge School Certificate or Junior Oxford School Certificate.

And after that, Hossein, my brother, chose to become an agriculturist and went to the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester (written Cirencester) and I joined H.M.S. Worcester Thames Northgood Training College at Greenhayes <?> in Kent.

Q. And how long were you there -- at this college?

A. It's a two-year course. I was there from 1934 to 1936, and after I'd obtained the scholastic and nautical degrees, I joined the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company as a cadet, as an indentured cadet to that company. My father had arrived in England from Paris, but we saw very little of him and in many ways he was like a stranger to us. And of course, since leaving Persia, neither my brother nor I had seen our mother, our mothers (or should I say mother ?).

Q. Where was she? She was....

A. In Tehran.

Q. She'd remained in Tehran?

A. She'd remained in Tehran. After leaving the Worcester, as I say, I was indentured to the Royal Mail, and sailed in 1936 for South America as a cadet on a vessel of 3000 dead-weight tons. After working on the South American trade for a short period, I was transferred to the West Indian ships of that company. Actually they went through the West Indies and up through Panama to the west coast of America. In 1939, in April 1939 to be exact, I left the Royal Mail, and through a cousin on the Russian branch of the family, Rokn-ed-Din Kadjar -- who had been instrumental in putting Elizabeth Arden on the map, after which he joined Helena Rubenstein, and he was there when I first met him -- I joined Mobil Oil in London. This cousin of mine had a friend by the name of Michel Bertain <?>, who was a senior foreign aid executive -- or rather foreign trade executive -- in Mobil Oil at that time.

Q. Why did you leave? Why did you sort of change careers?

A. I got fed up with the sea -- I could see no great future in it anyway -- but did not know when I left, like most other people did not know, that there could possibly be a war later on that year.

Q. I see, this was before the war had actually broken out.

A. In April 1939. When war was declared in September of '39, I tried hard to join the Royal Navy, but found that it was not going to be quite that easy. It must be remembered that I was a foreigner, and in the confusion at that time it was difficult, really, to see how I could go about doing this. However, through the Herron-Maxwells we had already met a family called the Thessigers <?>, where one of the brothers was an admiral in the Royal Navy. And after a great deal of pushing and pulling, wheeling and dealing, I was accepted into the Royal Navy in 1942 as a sub-lieutenant. And I left Mobil Oil then and proceeded into the Navy.

Q. And where did you serve, what were some of your wartime experiences?

A. My first ship was H.M.S. Conqueror, which was an Ack-ack ship -- by that I mean an anti-aircraft ship, sailing up and down the North Sea on patrol. In 1943, my father suddenly died, in Maidenhead, in peculiar circumstances -- at least one thought they were peculiar, as he was perfectly healthy. And the Admiralty were kind enough to give me leave of absence from sea duties for six months, and put me into the anti-submarine warfare division of the Admiralty in London, whilst I tried to sort out my father's affairs.

Before all this happened, in 1939 also, my elder brother, Hossein, had gone to Canada -- had in fact emigrated to Canada. However, on the outbreak of war, he also tried to return to England to join the Navy and managed to do so shortly after my father had died. So on his return to England in 1943, I met him since I last saw him 1n 1939. He was put on.... He joined the navy and was drafted to minesweepers based in the south of England.

Q. Were you able to -- either of you able to -- attend your father's funeral or did you get there too late?

A. There was no funeral, as such. My father was embalmed and subsequently put in a shallow grave. And I arranged a memorial service for him at Caxton Hall in London, through the good offices of people like Sir Hassan Sohravardi, who was then advisor to the Secretary of State for India, Mr. Leopold Amory, and others like Mr. Firouz Khan of India, and....

Q. And then where was he finally ... where was the body put to rest?

A. After the war, arrangements were made to return the body to the family tomb in Karbala, in Iraq.

Q. So after the war was over, what did you do?

A. During the war I served ... after the arrangements concerning my father were completed, I returned to sea in H.M.S. Duke of York, which was then the flagship of the whole fleet, serving Russian convoys. When the Duke of York finished and had to return to England to be refitted, I was transferred to a frigate called H.M.S. Wild Goose, which was the leading frigate of the Second Support Group sailing out of Liverpool Western Approaches, and consisted of five -- I think it was five -- bird class <?> sloops whose duty was simply to kill submarines in the Atlantic.

When the war with Germany was finished, I obtained leave of absence from the Admiralty to make a quick visit to Paris to see the family, who had been in France throughout all this period, as I hadn't seen them since well before the war, actually since 1934 -- if my memory serves me right.

Q. Who were the remaining family members there?

A. The family consisted of my grandmother, who was still alive....

Q. Mohammad-Ali Shah's wife?

A. Mohammad-Ali Shah's wife. Two uncles, Sultan Mahmoud and Sultan Majid, and the whole of the family retinue, which was still, in a way, ancient Persia, and quite considerable in numbers.

Q. Were they actually in Paris or outside of Paris?

A. They were actually in Paris itself -- in St. Cloud, they held a house in St. Cloud.

Q. It must have been a large house, to house so many people.

A. It was a very large house. The retinue were getting on in years -- by that I mean each individual was getting older, of course. And in a way, it was still really ancient Iran -- they still wore ... the women wore the CchadorD, and they behaved.... In a way it wasn't really ancient Persia and it wasn't modern Persia, it was something in between. As they had left, as I said before, they had left Iran in about 1909 and hadn't been back in Iran after Russia.

Q. At this point, maybe you could go back to your father and his ... what you recollect or were told about his life in Tehran as the Crown Prince, and circumstances that led to his departure.

A. My father and his elder brother, Ahmad Shah, at a very young age, well, since 1909, since my grandfather had to leave, became king and heir, and stayed together until the fall of the Qajars. Ahmad Shah was in Paris when the actual....

Q. End of the Qajar...?

A. ...the actual end of....

Q. The dynasty fell.

A. ...when the dynasty fell. He had left for Europe -- I'll go back on that. I had seen Ahmad Shah once in my life, in Constantinople, when he came to visit his father. And that's the only time I ever saw him. He was extremely good-looking. By that I mean not good-looking in the sense of ... he had a very noble face in the same way as my father did, and they got that from their mother. Ahmad Shah spent a lot of his time in Europe, and when the family actually fell, when the dynasty actually fell, he was not in Iran. He came ... there were two revolutions. One was when Reza Khan became Prime Minister, and I think that was....

Q. 1923.

A. In 1923. And Ahmad Shah came back and stayed a short time in Iran at that time, then left again for Paris. And in reality, he never came back. And when in 1925 parliament voted against the Qajars, it was my father, who was then living in the Golestan Palace in Tehran, who was shown to the frontier and left for Paris.

Q. Was there anything that the family desired to do or could do to change the course that history was taking, while your father was in Tehran, to persuade members of the parliament to...?

A. Well, it's always been said that, on his voyage to England, Ahmad Shah was asked by the British Government -- I assume in the form of Lord Curzon -- to make a speech at the Guild Hall in London in order to bring in British experts into Iran. And this did not mean that Iran would become a kind of colony of England, but that things like the police, the customs, the post, etc. would be trained by the English, and it would give the English a foothold in Iran. A bigger foothold, perhaps, than they had at that time.

Ahmad Shah categorically refused to do this, his argument being that his grandfather, Mozzafar-ed-din Shah, had given to Iran its first parliament. In other words, that Iran was a democracy ruled by a parliament. And his contention was that if the parliament in Persia agreed to the English proposal in the first instance, then he, as a democratic monarch, would ratify their conclusion. But that he could not do it the other way around: that is to say that he, in England, would accept it, and then force his decision through parliament.

Having done that, he left England and went to Paris. And I'm told that Sir Percy Lorraine <?> -- I don't know what his position was at that time....

Q. Ambassador, I believe, to Iran.

A. Continuously went to Paris asking Ahmad Shah to rescind his decision, and, so I'm told, that if he had done so, the Qajars, in the eyes of the English, would have been guaranteed a thousand years. But Ahmad Shah refused. And by that time, Reza Khan had already been chosen, or looked at favorably, by General Ironside in the context of perhaps the future dictator or leader of a republic and the coup was made.

During the war, and before Reza Khan was actually deposed in 1943, there had been many meetings in London with my father and various members of the British government when it had been decided that Reza Khan would be set aside because of his familiarity and friendliness with certain German elements... southern Persia at that time, and that the Qajars would be returned to the throne of Persia -- which my father firmly believed. But anyway, this was an agreement with Sir Anthony Eden, who was the foreign secretary at the time.

But in the interim, Sir Walter Monckton <?>, as I understand it, was sent to Persia to make an on-the-spot examination of the position. And he apparently had long conversations with Mr. Foroughi, who was then Prime Minister in Iran, and Mr. Foroughi managed to change the thinking in London by suggesting to Sir Walter Monckton that perhaps then was not the time to carry out this operation, as all the rolling stock for the Russian armed forces were passing through southern Persia to the north -- through southern Persian ports to the north -- and to Russia, and that if such a drastic change in the interior politics of Persia were made at that time, it could perhaps unsettle the smooth flowing of this rolling stock. Which I believe to be completely untrue. Many years after all this happened, I was speaking to a senior Persian of the Nouri family, of the Nouri Esfandiari family, who told me that everything in Tehran had already been arranged then to receive my father on his return. So it is really a little difficult to know what to believe. Suffice it to say that it didn't happen.

Q. Were you yourself aware that these things were happening at the time or were you told about them later?.

A. No, I was fully aware and partook in the conversations. And, literally, one day, after lunch in London with Sir Anthony Eden and various other members of the British Cabinet, my father and I, in walking through Green Park, honestly thought that the next day we would be asked to return to Tehran. My father had been asked at that luncheon, because I was then still in the Navy, whether he was prepared to take me back with him, or what did he intend. And he said no, he was going to take me with him back to Tehran.

Q. Would your brother Hossein have come too, or was there any discussion as to...?

A. My brother Hossein was not in England at that time. And in fact there was no discussion from that point of view at all. One doesn't know quite, really, what would have happened if we had returned.

Q. Could you tell us a little more about your father -- his personality, his thoughts, his....

A. My father had a very strong personality, but in a similar manner as his brother, the Shah, Ahmad Shah, had never really been educated. Neither of the two boys had ever been to school; they'd grown up under the auspices of various teachers in Tabriz, followed by Tehran, and had very little inkling of what the outside world was all about.

Q. How were they actually taught? Did they have a private tutor or ...?

A. I think they had private tutors in Iran.

Q. Were they Iranians or...?

A. Yes, their teachers were Iranians. If either one or the other spoke any foreign language at all at that time, it would have been a smattering of French.

Q. What language did they speak between the two of them?

A. They spoke Persian -- and probably Azarbaijani Turkish.

Q. And with their mother the same language?

A. The mother with the same language, with possibly the added smattering of Russian which she had picked up during her stay in Russia. But the language within the family, certainly within the old generation, was Azarbaijani Turkish. It must be understood that, in our dynasty, the heir to the throne is always governor of Azarbaijan, which is the largest province of Iran, and of course, in a way, the most important, as it borders Russia for 3000 kilometers.

Q. So, in fact, when Ahmad Shah was out of Iran, it was your father who carried on the duties of the king?

A. Yes. In going back again to 1941 and the various meetings in London, I've never been quite sure in my own mind whether it was the intention to take back my father.... No, that's incorrect -- I think the intention was to take back my father, but with a limited stay, as he was too colored by the older elements of the dynasty. And to try that approach, first of all, before putting in a younger man of the newer generation.

Q. Was there any discussion as to who that person would be?

A. Well the impression I got was it would be me, and this, in a way, is brought out in quite a number of the Shah's books -- the late Shah Reza Pahlavi -- in which he actually mentions that the British were in contact with the young Qajar who had served in the Royal Navy.

Q. Why wouldn't it have been your brother, who is older?

A. Well, my brother at that time was Canadian. And well ... that's really the only thing I can think of.

Q. As far as you know, what role did your father play in internal politics in Iran during the years that he was there? What were some of the ideas that he had and the policies he pursued vis-a-vis the cabinet and the Majles?

A. Well, the Majles had only just been given to Iran by his grandfather. And I think both he and Ahmad Shah were really too young. Ahmad Shah, after all, died at the age of 31, and my father at the age of 43, in 1943. Now he left Persia in 1925, so he was then, presumably, around 25 years old. I don't know the exact dates, or the exact ages, as in those days we didn't have identity cards, and I think the parents wrote the birth of the child in the Koran. In the Arabic sense or the Arabic year, with the ChegiraD, and to translate the ChegiraD into Persian, again you can make mistakes. So one doesn't know the exact ages, but they were both very young.

And one must understand also that, at that time, the sycophants in the Persian court were quite unbelievable. I know that you had the sycophants also in the days of Reza Pahlavi. In many ways possibly one of the reasons for his downfall was the fact that he listened to too many. But this has always been historically a way of life in Persia, and particularly in the Persian Court. In other words, everything that either Ahmad Shah said or my father said, presumably the people around them said, "Yes, yes, that must be true." But in point of fact it was not. And if you say that enough times to any young man, who's impressionable, and particularly personable, they're inclined to believe it and believe they can do no wrong.

The difficulty has always been in Persia to find really honest men around the young Shah to advise and guide him properly and vice versa, for that young Shah to listen and do as he was advised. So it's really difficult to say. Politically I doubt very much if they had much concern, except for the fact that I think that it is well known that Ahmad Shah would never countenance the spilling of blood. There were many opportunities of disposing of Reza Khan at the time when he was in the Cossack Brigade or whatever, but Ahmad Shah would never listen to it.

Q. There were actually proposals made to try to deal with...?

A. Yes, I think many proposals were made, by some people in the tribes, to stop the influence of Reza Khan at that time. Even to the point of getting rid of him. But, as I say, Ahmad Shah would never, never listen to this. In fact, I think that most Persians today recognize and accept the fact that he was a remarkably good man; but being just a good man in those days in that position was possibly not enough to maintain and to keep that position.

Q. Well, some of the critics have also written that he was more concerned with enjoying himself in Europe and pursuing pleasures than with affairs of state. Do you think that's a correct judgment?

A. Well, I think it's a fair comment, but to what extent, I don't know, as he was never a very strong man. Physically, he was short, and I think he suffered from glands in a way that he grew enormously fat. I think it is correct to say, that yes, okay, he liked the fleshpots of Europe, but that I think that physically he was quite incapable of really taking advantage of them to the extent that people might think. My father never came to Europe, as far as I know, until the Qajars fell. I know that he paid one state official visit to India, but I think that was all. In fact, I know very little about what he did or what Ahmad Shah did after I left the country myself. As I say, I never saw him again.

Q. Is it true that your father was the more strong willed person?

A. Yes, he was, he was a stronger willed person, he was more athletic -- which was all the more reason why it was surprising when he did die, so young in age in Maidenhead, particularly after his doctors had said he had never suffered from anything. But he was, yes, he was quite definitely the stronger of the two. In fact, he was the stronger child of Mohammad-Ali Shah, both physically and mentally.

Q. What sports did he enjoy?

A. Football, particularly when he was young. He was very active.

Q. In Iran?

A. In Iran. But as I say, I spent so little time with him in Iran anyway, and I'd be brought as a child just for him to sort of say a few words and laugh, and that kind of thing, and I'd be taken away back to the harem again, so you.... As children, we never had any family life, as one recognizes it, as one understands it in Europe.

Q. Now was there any time while you were both in Europe that you spent considerable time together -- or even a whole day or half a day?

A. Oh, yes. Many times during the war I'd go down to see him in Maidenhead, whenever I could, particularly between the start of the war in 1939 and when I joined the navy in 1942. I went over to Wales after the bombings in London. He went to Wales, to Rill <?> in northern Wales, and I used to visit him there from time to time, during the time when I was immobile in London. But one never really got close to him as a son gets close to his father over here. It was just not done.

Q. And what were the things you would talk about? Did he tell you anything about Iran or any sort of memories of his days in Iran?

A. Well, not really, because we didn't have a basic language together. His English was poor, his French was not good, my French was not good, my English was, and of course I couldn't speak Persian, because I'd forgotten -- since I left Iran at the age of four or five, I completely forgot Persian. As I said previously today, I never really spoke Persian as a child. I spoke Turkish, Azarbaijani Turkish. So I learned Persian, the hard way, when I went back to Persia in the oil business.

Q. So therefore your Turkish had also been forgotten?

A. The Turkish had gone completely. I had no further means of using it or opportunity. And of course my elder brother had forgotten everything except English.

Q. So does that mean that there was no chance for him to really tell you what was going through his mind about Iran and, in particular, when Reza Shah was supposed to abdicate, I imagine there must have been some reaction, thoughts that must have gone through....

A. Yes, he would talk, he would talk, as I say, but as I didn't know the people he was talking about -- I knew of them, but I had no knowledge of what they were, or what they had done. So it didn't mean an awful lot to me. All I knew was that Reza Khan was there and that he had taken the place of my uncle. More than that, no, I didn't know anything at all.

Q. But when Reza Shah abdicated and left Iran, was forced to leave Iran, did your father make any comments about it, you know, something that had happened to him had happened to the man who had replaced him?

A. My father was delighted. Obviously. When did he leave Iran, Reza Khan?

Q. 1941. He left Iran in September, 1941 for Mauritius and then South Africa.

A. Yes. Because my father at that time thought that he was going to be taken back. He was firmly convinced of that. But as it didn't occur, and it didn't occur, then he started losing hope. He was firmly convinced, by all the conversations that had taken place here in London, that on the fall of Reza Khan we would be going back. And he really couldn't believe it when it didn't happen.

Q. Why should the British have helped to do this? I mean why shouldn't ... what would have been the advantage to them in doing this?

A. I think the advantage was that they had realized in some ways they'd made a mistake with Reza Khan. If one goes back to 1932, the oil.... Reza Khan had taken over the oil company. And it was only on an understanding between Reza Khan and Lord Cadman <?>, if my facts are right, and on the promise that Reza Khan would get three percent of the oil revenues for himself -- for his own personal use -- that he again allowed the oil company to operate. And I think at that time, British petroleum, which was after all 51% owned by the British government, had started having their misgivings about the family; but they were stuck with them, there was no way of doing anything about it.

Then of course, I don't know how true it is, but when southern Persia during the war was supposed to be a nest of German spies, ably abetted by Reza Khan, who knew they were there, and who had been warned to do something about it, get rid of them or clarify the situation, and wouldn't do it. But he himself, Reza Khan, never believed he would ever be kicked out. He couldn't believe that ... until of course Iran was invaded.

Q. Who were the other prominent members of the Qajar family who were in Europe, and were they at all active in affairs of state or politics, aside from your father? Any of his brothers, or...?

A. No. No. Of course, the Qajars are a tribe, they're numerous, many branches. At the time, I think, of the 1925 coup, there was a family of Mas'oud in Esfahan, who were embroiled in the coup in the form of Sarem-ed-Dowleh Mas'oud, as I've been told. Others like Seyyed Zia-ed-Din ... and I believe two or three others. To what extent Farmanfarmaian himself was in it, one doesn't know. But as I've been told, they did help to bring about the coup against their own family.

Q. There are some written stories that Nosrat-od-Dowleh was rushing back to Tehran, I believe, from a trip to Europe, thinking that perhaps he was going to be....

A. Nosrat od-Dowleh Firouz at that time was a foreign minister to Ahmad Shah, and a very close friend, apparently, of Lord Curzon. And it was, after all, Lord Curzon, who, I am told, did engineer the coup in the end against the Qajars, after Reza Khan had been chosen by Ironside as being the man to carry it out. But it was never the intention of Reza Khan -- or of others -- of Reza Khan to become the Shah or of others to make him the Shah. The original intention was that Persia would be made into a republic. But, then again, the mullahs insisted that there should be a Shah, that Iran was ungovernable without a Shah because of all the various ethnic groups who realized only one thing and that was the Shah.

Q. I mean, it almost sounds as if the leading Qajars in Tehran were somewhat helpless in preventing this thing from happening. One would think that they would have enough allies in and out of government to do something, to take some initiative to maintain the dynasty.

A. Well, I always believed that if Ahmad Shah had really put his foot down, and with whatever army he had and the tribes -- who I understand were completely, in many ways completely, faithful to him -- and if he'd stood his ground, it could not have happened, Reza Khan could not have done it. But he was not in Iran at the time, he would not abdicate in favor of his brother, my father -- my father was powerless to do anything because his brother was Shah -- so it really was a vicious circle.

Q. And the many telegrams which were apparently going back and forth, if we were able to read those today, what would we have found them to say?

A. The telegrams are in my possession. I have never read them myself because they ... firstly, because they are in Persian; secondly, because I've never had the time to decode them. But there were telegrams between my father and Ahmad Shah and vice versa. And I believe historically they could be quite interesting, but it means sitting down, going through them carefully, and doing a research job on the whole thing. They could, of course, be of great use to some library, presumably, I don't know; but I think the thing to do is to really research them first of all to find out what is in them. They are in code, but the code is there with them; the code is amongst the telegrams.

Q. So to follow the path of your father when he left Iran, he actually left Iran through which border?

A. He was shown to the northern border. At that time there was a train -- first of all by car, then by train, and I think his.... Yes, I've been told that when he left, he had a hundred pounds in the bank in London and a ring on his finger, on the frontier of Persia, and that ring was taken off him....

Q. By a soldier, by one of the...?

A. By the soldiers who took him to the frontier. And I think he went by bus and train to the Lebanon, from there by ship, and eventually he landed in France. And his first port of call was his mother's house in St. Cloud. Subsequently, on the advice of various friends, he chose London, or rather England, anyway, as his domicile.

Q. And where did he actually live here in England?

A. He lived in London until the war, and then he went to Rill <?> in Wales, as I said before, during the bombings in London; and then when he came back, he took a house in Maidenhead, where he died.

Q. Do you actually know where he was living in London? The house or the apartment?

A. There was a hotel, hotel of bleak <?> apartments at the end of Barclay Square, called, if I remember, Landsdowne House. He lived there for some time, and then in Half Moon Street, there was a hotel -- I've forgotten the name of it now -- until he set himself up first in Rill and then in Maidenhead.

Q. Was there any agreement as to any funds being provided by the new regime or the Qajar family?

A. No. My father's own estates were Saltanat-Abad and Aghdasiyeh, just north of Tehran, which were enormous and they were ... they belonged to him. But on the death of Ahmad Shah he declared himself in the world press as the rightful Shah of Iran, pointing out that the Qajars had never abdicated their right to the throne. And when that was issued in the press, Reza Khan confiscated the estates. The estates went, and subsequently, of course, they were used by the military, they became barracks, with Aghdasiyeh and Saltanat-Abad -- I think, if I am right, with little factories in Saltanat-Abad itself.

Q. That far down?

A. Oh, yes. The whole of Saltanat-Abad and the whole of Aghdasiyeh. So that meant that he really had no revenue at all from Iran. He had a small income from his brother, Ahmad Shah, and that was it. But he had never saved money or made money, he had never given that a thought, so....

Q. As far as you know, how did he sort of pass his days? What did he do?

A. He read a lot. He saw various Persian friends when they came over here -- very quietly. In Maidenhead he had a large garden and he looked after the garden, or tried to look after it, himself. I wasn't with him; at the time I was out in Mobil in London, which meant I was working in London, so I saw him from time to time, and that would be the evenings. He occupied himself.

Q. Was his wife with him?

A. No, no, no. He was entirely alone. He had a manservant and a cook, and that was about it.

Q. And how about your mother, what was she doing?

A. She was in Persia. I never saw her. I didn't see my mother since I left her at the age of about three or four.


Copyright 2003 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College (Harvard University)
Dr. Habib Ladjevardi
Iranian Oral History Project
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Harvard University
1430 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
617.495.4232 (tel)