BOSTON, Massachusetts (AFP) – The youngest son of the late shah of Iran has committed suicide in Boston, weighed down by sorrow at the loss of his father and the upheaval in his homeland, his family said Tuesday.
“It is with immense grief that we would like to inform our compatriots of the passing away of Prince Ali Reza Pahlavi,” Reza Pahlavi, the shah’s oldest son, said on his website.
He said his brother, 44, who was studying at Harvard University, had struggled to come to terms with the political troubles in his native Iran.
“Like millions of young Iranians, he too was deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland, as well as carrying the burden of losing a father and a sister in his young life,” Reza Pahlavi wrote.
“Although he had struggled for years to overcome his sorrow, he finally succumbed, and during the night of the 4th of January 2011, in his Boston residence, took his own life, plunging his family and friends into great sorrow.”
Police could not officially confirm the prince’s death. But a law enforcement source told AFP: “I can confirm that an adult male in his mid-40s was found at 141 West Newton Street in Boston.
“He died from a fatal gunshot wound. While the manner of death is being investigated is is not believed to be a homicide.”
Ali Reza Pahlavi, the youngest of the shah’s five children, moved to the United States as a teenager during the turbulence of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
He obtained his first degree from Princeton University in 1984, and a Masters Degree from Columbia University in 1992.
He never married, and was undertaking a postgraduate degree at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in philology and ancient Iranian studies.
Unlike his older brother, Ali Reza had shunned the spotlight amid the mass protests which erupted after disputed 2009 elections won by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad despite allegations of widespread fraud.
A statement released by the crown prince’s office said: “Prince Ali Reza was intelligent, sensitive, loyal, and dedicated to Iranian civilization, as well as to his family and friends. His counsel, wisdom and sense of humor will be profoundly missed and always cherished.”
It was yet a further tragedy to befall the former Iranian royal family.
His father, the former shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was ousted in the 1979 Islamic revolution, and his family moved to live in exile in the United States. The deposed shah died in July 1980 and is buried in Cairo.
The shah’s youngest daughter, princess Leila Pahlavi, died in 2001 at the age of 31 when her body was found in a London hotel. An inquest heard that she had taken a fatal cocktail of prescription drugs and cocaine.
According to widespread press reports in Britain, the princess had struggled for years against an eating disorder, had never accepted her exile from Iran and suffered periodic bouts of depression.
“For the past few years, Leila was very depressed. Time had not healed her wounds,” the princess’s mother, Farah Pahlavi, wrote on a remembrance website in 2001.
“Exiled at the age of 9, she never surmounted the death of her father, His Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, to whom she was particularly close.
“She was never able to forget the injustice and the dramatic conditions of our departure and the erring which was to follow. She could not stand living far from Iran and shared wholeheartedly the suffering of her countrymen.”
Former crown prince Reza Pahlavi, who has lived in the United States since 1984, has traveled around the world to raise awareness of what he calls the plight of Iranians living under the Islamic regime in Iran.
“Once again, we are joined with mothers, father and relatives of so many victims of these dark times for our country,” he wrote on his website, mourning the death of his brother Tuesday.
Pahlavi is survived by his oldest brother, his mother, his sister Farahnaz, and his half-sister Shahnaz.