For three decades Ardeshir Zahedi played one of the most significant roles in the political history of modern Iran. As a trusted adviser, confidant, son-in-law, and friend, he played an influential role in the life of the last Shah from 1953 until the king’s death in Egypt in 1980. As a diplomat, he twice served as ambassador to the United States, ambassador to the Court of St. James and for seven years as foreign minister of Iran. He has known and worked with seven U.S. presidents. In the early fifties, he was witness and principal aide to his father in the tumultuous rise and fall of Mohammad Mossadegh and the appointment of his father as prime minister.
Ardeshir was born in 1928. He is a descendant of two families that have shaped the history of Iran. His father, Fazlollah Zahedi (1897–1963), served as prime minister and was an important political and military figure of the Pahlavi period. His mother’s father, Hossein Pirnia Motamen ol-Molk, served as the first prime minister of Iran after the establishment of the constitution in the early twentieth century.
During World War II, when Ardeshir was twelve, his father, who was the commander of the Isfahan military division, was arrested by the British and imprisoned in Palestine. After the war Ardeshir ventured abroad to study in Beirut and the United States. He returned to Iran to play an important role in the political life of his country alongside his father and the Shah, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi. A few years later, he and Princess Shahnaz, the Shah’s first child, fell in love and were married. The narrative of the courtship and marriage, which sadly lasted only seven years, is recounted in the next volume of his memoirs.
In 1968, as foreign minister, on behalf of Iran he signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1977, while ambassador to the United States, he helped negotiate and free 149 hostages held by Hanafi Muslims at the B’nai B’rith headquarters.
He presently lives in Montreux in Switzerland and is considered one of the most prominent personalities of the Iranian Diaspora. He has been condemned to death by the courts of the revolutionary government of Iran.