Farah Pahlavi (Persian: فرح پهلوی, née Farah Diba (فرح دیبا); born 14 October 1938) is the widow of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and was successively Queen and Shahbanu (empress consort) of Iran from 1959 to 1979. She was born into a prosperous family whose fortunes were diminished after her father’s early death. While studying architecture in Paris, France, she was introduced to the Shah at the Iranian embassy, and they were married in December 1959. The Shah’s first two marriages had not produced a son—necessary for royal succession—resulting in great rejoicing at the birth of Crown Prince Reza in October of the following year. Diba was then free to pursue interests other than domestic duties, though she was not allowed a political role. She worked for many charities, and founded Iran’s first American-style university, enabling more women to become students in the country. She also facilitated the buying-back of Iranian antiquities from museums abroad.
By 1978, growing anti-imperialist unrest fuelled by communism, socialism, and Islamism throughout Iran was showing clear signs of impending revolution, prompting Shahbanu and the Shah to leave the country in January 1979 under the threat of a death sentence. For this reason, most countries were reluctant to harbour them, with Anwar Sadat’s Egypt being an exception. Facing execution should he return, and in ill health, the Shah died in exile in July 1980. In widowhood, Diba has continued her charity work, dividing her time between Washington, D.C. in the United States and Paris, France. (Wikipedia)