Iran’s exiled Queen Farah Pahlavi has debunked allegations by the Iranian government about the former Pahlavi dynasty taking Iran’s royal jewels out of the country.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi claimed that in the days before the Islamic Revolution in 1979 when the last monarch Mohammad Reza Shah and the queen left the country, they took with themselves a huge amount of the country’s royal jewels as well as money.
He said that the Pahlavis took “$35 billion and 384 suitcases of jewels and diamonds as well as two crowns with five thousand pieces of diamonds, 50 pieces of emeralds and 368 pieces of pearls, whose values are incalculable.”
His claims drew ridicule from many Iranians on social media who pointed out that most of the collection of royal jewelry, including the two crowns that Bahadori Jahromi mentioned, are available on display at the Treasury of National Jewels situated inside the Central Bank of Iran.
The jewels were put on public display before the Islamic Revolution upon an order by the Shah, who decreed that the most spectacular of the jewels should be showcased at the Central Bank of Iran as his father, Reza Shah, the first Pahlavi king had transferred ownership of the crown jewels to the state.
In reaction to the baseless claim, Iran's exiled queen Farah Pahlavi told RadioFarda that she did not even take her tiara that was bought with her own money, adding that she did not take many of her belongings that were kept in a safe inside the palace with the hope that they would return to the country.
Mohammad Reza Shah crowning his wife, Empress Farah, at their coronation in 1967
Farah Pahlavi added that even during her reign as queen, the crown jewels were only removed from the Central Bank under supervision of the bank’s authorities for special public ceremonies. “In cases where it was necessary to remove jewelry from the treasury of the central bank for an official ceremony, these items were transferred from the central bank to the palace under strict security measures and returned with the bank guards after the ceremony,” she said.
However, instead of eating the humble pie and without any explanation about his gaffe, Bahadori Jahromi said on Wednesday that "Impartial courts should investigate the looted properties of the Iranian people.” It should become clear where this money is spent; to support and organize “illegal gatherings, riots, or media or non-media terrorism," he added.
The Iranian national jewels include elaborate crowns, thirty tiaras, and numerous aigrettes, a dozen bejeweled swords and shields, a number of unset precious gems, numerous plates and other dining services cast in precious metals and encrusted with gems, and several other more unusual items (such as a large golden globe with the oceans made of emeralds) collected or worn by the Persian monarchs since the 16th century (Safavid Persia) and on.
When the Iranian revolution toppled the Pahlavi dynasty, it was feared that in the chaos the crown jewels had been stolen or sold by the clerical regime’s top officials. Although some smaller items were reportedly stolen and smuggled out of the country, the bulk of the collection remained intact. This became evident when the Islamic Republic under the presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani re-opened the permanent exhibition of the Iranian crown jewels to the public in the 1990s.