Azadeh Moaveni
January 5, 2011

The youngest son of the late Shah of Iran, Alireza Pahlavi, committed suicide in Boston on Tuesday, the latest tragedy to afflict the exiled Persian royal family. The 44-year-old Pahlavi’s death darkens his family’s complex legacy at an awkward moment, as the clan is seeking to rekindle its ties with Iranians and identify itself with the country’s democratic opposition movement.

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Since 1979, when the Islamic revolution ousted his father from power, Pahlavi had lived a quiet life in exile, one very much out of the public eye. Cameras rarely pursued him, and most Iranians, both in the country and among the diaspora, rarely saw a photograph of him before his death. Pahlavi’s older brother Reza, first in line to the throne, carried the family mantle from a base in suburban Washington, D.C., maintaining a tepid but enduring campaign to rescue Iran from its clerical government.

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