There is not a whole lot of information available on the Shah and Empress of Iran’s two daughters, Their Imperial Highnesses Princesses Farahnaz and Leila. They are rarely talked about – even with the ongoing protests taking place currently in Iran. Most know of their older brother, Crown Prince Reza and his advocating for Iranians to one day be free. Farahnaz has chosen to live a private life in New York, while Leila sadly passed away in June 2001.
They have another brother, Prince Ali-Reza who died from an apparent suicide at his home in Boston in early 2001. They also have an older half-sister, Princess Shahnaz.
Princess Yasmine Farahnaz Pahlavi was born on 12 March 1963 in Tehran. From 1970-1978, Farahnaz attended the Niavaran Special School. The family was forced into exile in the United States, after the death of her father in 1980, as a result of the Iranian Revolution in 1978. Her high school education took place at the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Connecticut, before transferring to the Cairo American College in Cairo, Egypt until graduation in 1981. When it came time for her university education, Farahnaz studied at Bennington College, Vermont, earning a BA in Political Science. She then went on to graduate school at the School of Social Work where she obtained a degree in Child Psychology in 1990.
Empress Farah’s website details how she close she is to her mother and brother. She pays close attention to events going on in her homeland and is described as “a compassionate woman and takes a close interest in social issues in society and especially those affecting the disadvantaged.”
She attempted to find a job at international aid agencies like UNICEF, but according to her mother, was rejected due to her name.
Born 27 March 1970, Princess Leila Pahlavi was the Shah’s youngest child. She was born in Iran eight years before her family’s forced exile. Like her older sister, she studied at the Niavaran Special School before moving to the U.S. where she was educated at Marymount School in New York City. For middle school, she attended the Cairo American College, as well as the Pine Cobble School in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The Princess studied at the Rye Country Day School Rye, New York, for high school and would go on to attend Brown University as an undergraduate.
As an adult, she lived in Paris, France, and Greenwich, Connecticut, and she has been described as “vivacious and outgoing.” However, she was known to have low self-esteem, suffer from depression and became anorexic. Leila was also once a model for the fashion label Valentino.
Princess Leila’s life came to a tragic end on 10 June 2001. She was found in the bed of her room at the Leonard Hotel in London that evening by her doctor. High amounts of insomnia drug Seconal was found in her system, as well as a small amount of cocaine. The autopsy results featured in a report regarding her death which revealed she had stolen the insomnia drug from her doctor’s office due to her addiction to the medication. Instead of the prescribed two pills at once, she was known to take up to 40 at the same time.
Leila, who was only 31 at the time of her death, was laid to rest at Passy Cemetery (Cimetiere de Passy) in Paris beside her maternal grandmother.