The Shah crowns himself at brillian Teheran ceremony
Nicholas Herbert - The Times
October 26, 1967

From Nicholas Herbert – Teheran, Oct. 26, 1967

With pageantry worthy of the world’s most ancient monarchy, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the King of Kings, the Light of Aryans, crowned himself today in the Golestan Palace in Teheran.

Then, as muezzins called the faithful to prayer and 101-gun salutes rang out all over the land, the Shah, who waited so long for an heir, bestowed a crown upon the woman who gave him one.

By his side sat the six-year-old boy upon whom those awesome titles, will one day devolve, a symbol of continuity in a land where tradition and progress have been made to march hand in hand.

Crowns, sceptres, swords and maces, not to mention the priceless Peacock Throne, all glittering with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, bore ample testimony to the past.  Queen Farah, as the first woman ever to put on a crown in Iran’s 2500-yearhistory, provided striking proof of present progress and future hopes.

Bouncing young Princess

It was the Queen and her son; indeed, who stole the show in the icing-sugar extravagance of the mirrored coronation hall.  The Crown Prince Reza, obviously over-heated but well grounded in the rudiments of ceremonial in his dark blue military uniform. Heavy gold epaulettes and medals, clasped his peaked cap confidently under his arm.

Queen Farah, cool, smiling and composed, wore her crown gracefully and unbent to the extent of acknowledging her young daughter, Princess Farahnaz, who sat bouncing on her peacock blue chair throughout the half-hour ceremony.

The Shah, by contrast, seemed to feel the weight of his ostrich-plumed scarlet and gold crown and the constraint of the tight-waisted uniform of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.  He spoke in soft, almost breathless, tones after his coronation, referring to his hopes that he and his wife and son would fulfil their responsibilities in the future.

The day began early for many of the privileged guests at the palace, but by the time the members of the Royal Family entered in procession, the long trains of the princesses swishing over the deep orange carpet, all were in their places.

Members of the Diplomatic Corps and their wives, officials of the Iranian court and Government, resplendent in medals and court dress, and other dignitaries in long brightly coloured dresses or white ties and tails, lines the mirror walls of the hall.  Some led astray by western vogues, wore plastic badges with portraits of the Royal Family.

The sparkle of emeralds

Into this formidable assembly, brilliantly lit by chandeliers and television lights, the young Prince had to walk ahead of his parents and take his seat on the left of the throne.  Escorted by officers with drawn swords, and mindful, perhaps, of films he had been shown of Prince Charles at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, he strode manfully down the length of the chamber and clambered into his gilded chair.

The Queen and the Shah, similarly attended the chamberlains and ladies in waiting, followed at three minutes intervals, the Queen’s priceless emerald earrings and neck-piece causing a flutter of admiration as they sparkled against her Swiss white silk gown.  A choir of young men and girls broke into a special hymn as the Shahanshah strode stiffly into the room, to be greeted with curtsey from his wife and a flicker of a smile from his son.

Past glories and future gains

There was a moment’s contretemps, the assembly being unsure of what to do next, until the Shah nodded to them to be seated.  Outside, trumpeters dressed in blue and orange pounded a fanfare and the Imam of Teheran, in black robes and turban, recited the blessing.  Then, taking the Holy Koran from a cushion borne by a strapping private soldier, the Shah raised it to his lips.

Officials stepped forward with the richly jewelled imperial belt, a sword of equal magnificence, and a richly embroidered grey and red cape decorated with familiar traditional Iranian pattern.  Finally, taking the gleaming crown and turning it briefly in his hands, the Shah placed it firmly on his head.  Ancient drums and trumpets sounded outside as the King of Kings gazed proudly down from his throne.

Bearers now moved forward with a gold cushion, which was placed at the foot of the Peacock Throne, and the Queen’s crown and train.  She rose and knelt before her husband, who placed the crown on her upswept hair, paused to help her to her feet.  The Queen velvet cape with its 26ft. train edged in white mink and moved gracefully back to her place.

There followed a number of speeches, and the orator struck a balance between former glories and future gains.  The Imam spoke of the monarch’s inspired dedication to social justice; Amir Abbas Hoveyda, the Prime Minister, offering the nation’s congratulations, said the eyes of the people were glittering with happiness and their hearts were filled with exaltation when they contemplated the Shah’s unremitting efforts on behalf of their prosperity.

Security watch by helicopter

The Shah, who spoke for three minutes, said that he prayed he would be given in the future the same strength and opportunities to lead the country forward as he had been granted in the past.  “Now that  have put on my head the crown of the world’s oldest monarchy I feel more than ever that I am closer to the people and I firmly believe that the bonds between me and the people have been strengthened.

He referred to the Queen’s coronation as the first in Iran’s history and prayed to God to help the Crown Prince.

Speaking of his desire to lead the country forward to prosperity and revive its greatness, the Shah added: “In pursuing these lofty objectives I shall continue to do everything possible even if it should cost my life.”

This was a reminder that there have been two attempts in former years on his life, and some concern for security was evident outside when he preceded his wife and son down the long red-carpeted walkway to the waiting coach.  A helicopter hovered overhead and a group of riot troops armed with Sten guns, stood ready beside one of the stands.

There was a brief flurry when a soft-drink bottle popped, but nothing more untoward and soon to the applause of the crowd, the light blue gilded coach moved off, drawn by eight magnificent greys caparisoned in pale blue leather.

The Queen, sitting on her husband’s left, was the first to wave, but the Crown Prince, alone with an equerry in a black and gold coach, did not manage a greeting until later in the parade when, sipping from a small white mug, he made a tentative gesture of salutation to the crowds lining the route.

The procession, led by detachments of lancers in silver Prussian helmets, and followed by high-ranking military officers in long, low American cars, was short and passed quickly, but crowds ran alongside to the distress of the police.

Finally it wound itself back to the Marble Palace, whence the royal couple had started less than three hours earlier.  It had been a dignified, rich and popular coronation.

Rededication to ideals

The first coronation in Iran for 41 years, it also marked a climax of the “white revolution”, a programme of nine points, since amplified to 12, proclaimed by the Shah in January 1963.  It helped to mark a moment of rededication to the ideals of this broadly liberal reform, which is bound up with the country’s fourth five-year plan, expected to be given formal Cabinet approval in the next few days.

In 10 years, according to the Prime Minister, there will be no more illiterates where until recently 80 per cent of the population could not read.  A nuclear reactor will be operating in a month and big effort is about to begin on reducing the number of isolated villages.

There are now 60,000 villages in the country, half of which have fewer than 250 inhabitants.  These are to be lured into awkwardly named agro-industrial complexes in an effort to improve the distribution of population.

The Prime Minister sees the future as rosy under the Shah’s guidance, given the hard work to which today’s events should spur the people on.  Nearly half the population is under 15 and the Prime Minister dreams that three more five-year (by 1982) plans will bring Iran level with Western Europe.

The Queen sends congratulations

The Queen and the Prime Minister sent messages of congratulations to the Shah and Empress of Iran on their coronation yesterday.

The Queen’s message said: “On this, the anniversary of your birthday and the occasion of the coronation of Your Imperial Majesty and Her Majesty the Empress, it gives me and my husband particular pleasure to send to Your Imperial Majesties our warmest congratulations on this important day in the long history of Iran.

“Your Majesty” coronation marks with due ceremony a reign which has commanded admiration in Britain, as it has elsewhere in the world.”

“We add to these our best wishes for your personal health and happiness and the prosperity of your reign, and especially for the long life of your son and heir, Prince Reza, and your other children.

“Elizabeth R.”