Shah's wife dies in Paris

Oct. 25, 2001 at 7:17 PM
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PARIS, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Soraya Esfandiari Bakhtiari, the second wife of the former Shah of Iran, died in Paris Thursday, French radio reported. She was 69.

The daughter of an Iranian magnate and German mother, Soraya married Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1951. He divorced her eight years later, for failing to produce children.

Unlike Princess Fawzia -- sister of Egypt's last king and Pahlavi's first wife -- Soraya came from commoner stock. Nonetheless, she belonged to Iran's

powerful Bakhtiar tribe.

Her sumptuous marriage to the Shah reportedly included a Christian Dior gown in silver lame, sent by private airplane from Paris.

And during her short tenure as empress of Iran, she became known for her luxurious eccentricities. Among them: keeping a pet seal in the palace fountain.

After her divorce, Princess Soraya reportedly lived quietly abroad. She also wrote a book: "Soraya: The Autobiography of Her Imperial Highness Princess Soraya.

The Shah went on to marry Farah Diba, who followed her husband into exile. Farah, still known by some as the last empress of Iran, remained at Pahlavi's side until his death.

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