Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Asian Venus

The very first time I saw a picture of this lady was more than a year ago and I was immediately captivated by her otherworldly beauty. I made some research at the Internet about her identity and found out that her name was Fawzia, a princess of Egypt and former Queen of Iran.

She was called an "Asian Venus" by renowned photographer, Cecil Beaton. He described her as a woman blessed with a "perfect heart-shaped face and strangely pale but piercing blue eyes".

Princess Fawzia was born on 5 November 1921 in Alexandria, Egypt. She was the eldest daughter of Sultan Fuad I of Egypt and his second wife Nazli Sabri. One of her ancestors was a French army officer who served under Napoleon Bonaparte, later converted to Islam and oversaw the overhaul of the Egyptian army.

Shortly after Fawzia's birth, Fuad I dropped the title 'Sultan' in favor of 'King' and enacted a new constitution that would limit the power of parliament. He then embarked on a program that would modernize Egypt and its image abroad. With these new changes, the Queen and her daughters were allowed to appear unveiled in public.

Queen Fawzia of Iran, 1942.
Photographed by Cecil Beaton.
At the age of 17, Fawzia was engaged to the future Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. They were married on 16 March 1939 in Cairo, and soon after the wedding Fawzia moved to Tehran. Two years later, Mohammad Pahlavi succeeded as the new Shah of Iran, and Fawzia became Queen.

As the new Queen of Iran, Fawzia became an instant celebrity. She was photographed everywhere she traveled, wearing the latest Parisian couture. She appeared in different magazines like Vogue and Life, and was hailed as Persia's beautiful and glamorous queen.

However, marriage life for Fawzia and the Shah was far from being a happy and ideal one. Although Fawzia had given birth to a daughter, Princess Shahnaz, she was unhappy and felt miserable in Tehran. Her strained relationship with her husband was further complicated by her sisters-in-law's meddling. They disliked Fawzia and were jealous of her beauty. Unfortunately, Fawzia could not handle them. She spent more and more time in Egypt, and one time when she came back from a long vacation, she asked for a divorce. The divorce was granted, but one of the major conditions of the divorce was that their daughter must be left behind in Iran. Fawzia was not allowed to see her daughter; it was only when Princess Shahnaz was already 18 years old that she saw her mother again.

After her divorce, Fawzia moved back to Cairo where she met and fell in love with an Egyptian colonel. They married on 28 March 1949, and the couple had two children.

Today, Fawzia was the most senior member of the deposed Egyptian royal family. She currently resides in Switzerland.


Matterhorn said...

What a stunning woman!

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