PARIS — Princess Soraya Esfandiari Bakhtiari, the second wife of the former shah of Iran, has died in Paris, a former Iranian official close to the family said Thursday. She was 69.
She died in her Paris apartment, according to an ex-minister of the shah, A.M. Madjidi. The cause and day of death were unclear.
The princess, who was renowned for her beauty, was born on June 22, 1932, to a German mother and a father who was a member of Iran’s powerful Bakhtiari family.
She married Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi on Feb. 12, 1951, following his divorce from Egyptian Princess Fawzia, sister of King Farouk.
In 1958, the shah divorced Soraya after they failed to have children. Though she lost the title of empress, the shah conferred on her the title of royal princess at the time of the divorce.
Pahlavi later married a French-educated architecture student, Farah, who became empress, bearing four children during their two-decade-long marriage.
The shah died of cancer in 1980 after being swept from the throne by the Islamic revolution. One of the shah’s daughters, 31-year-old Leila, died in London in June from a drug overdose.
Soraya never remarried. She traveled extensively in Europe, aspiring at one point to a movie career.
The story of her divorce inspired French songwriter Francoise Mallet-Jorris to write "Je Veux Pleurer Comme Soraya" (I Want to Cry Like Soraya). The ex-empress published an autobiography in 1991, "Le Palais des Solitudes" (The Palace of Solitudes).
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