Ardeshir Zahedi was born on 16 October 1928 in Tehran, Iran where he also received his elementary and high school education. He is the son of General Fazlollah Zahedi, a distinguished military commander and former Prime Minister, and Mrs. Khadijeh Pirnia. His grandfather, Motamen-ol-Molk Pirnia was the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) for many years.
Ardeshir Zahedi’s education was not restricted to Iran alone. Like many of his generation he went abroad where he studied for one year at the American University in Beirut, and completed his studies in the United States at the State University of Utah where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in 1950. Upon returning to Iran Zahedi, he was appointed treasurer of the Iran America commission and Deputy Director of the Point Four Program created under the Truman Doctrine. AZ worked closely with William E. Warne, the Country Director of the Point Four program in Iran.
During the premiership of Mossadegh in 1952-53 AZ was forced to resign because of his political opposition to the government and was captured, arrested and tortured by Mossadegh’s martial law authorities. In the crucial days after the Shah had issued his ‘firman’ Zahedi had been able to had photostated the order to dismiss Mossadegh and had copies distributed in the capital.
Following the success of the popular uprising against Mossadegh in August 1953 led by his father, General Zahedi, Ardeshir was appointed Chamberlain to H.I.M the Shah and Personal Assistant to the Prime Minister and from 1954 to 1959 he served as the Head of the Iranian Student Program.
On 11 October 1957 Ardeshir Zahedi married H.R.H. Princess Shahnaz, the eldest daughter of H.I.M the Shah and his first wife Princess Fawzia, sister to the king Farouk of Egypt. They had one daughter, Princess Mahnaz. Unfortunately the marriage ended in divorce eight years later in 1964 and Zahedi never remarried.
Zahedi’s diplomatic career began in 1959 when he was appointed Ambassador to the United States, and to the Court of St. James’s in 1962. Four years later, in 1966, Zahedi was recalled to Tehran and appointer Foreign Minister in the government of Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda. Energetic, impetuous and frank, Zahedi drove himself and his staff extremely hard and achieved a reputation as a leader with impressive knowledge. Zahedi was appointed to a second term as the American Ambassador in 1973, while also being accredited Ambassador to Cuba, Mexico, the Bahamas, and Venezuela.
During the seventies as oil-rich Iran was undergoing tremendous changes, Ambassador Zahedi enjoyed the confidence of Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations, while strengthening ties with US Congressmen, journalists, civic officials and university academics many of whom were invited to visit Iran.
By late 1977 Ardeshir Zahedi had truly become one of the most influential ambassadors in Washington. The Shah’s visit to the United States in November of the same year was hailed a success despite the violent protests in front of the White House by radical Iranian student opposed to the monarchy.
The so called Islamic revolution that gripped Iran in 1978 proved a turning point in Ardeshir Zahedi’s diplomatic career. As the imperial regime crumbled toward collapse, Zahedi returned twice to Tehran taking messages to bolster the Shah’s moral, seeking military support and opposing the monarch’s plans to leave Iran.
In January 1979, soon after H.I.M the Shah and Shabanou Farah flew into exile, the Iranian embassy in Washington was taken over by militants loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini. Forever loyal to the emperor, Ardeshir Zahedi remained by his side. He was present at his death in Egypt on July 27th, 1980. His Excellency, Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi is now residing in Switzerland.
I addition to various ambassadorial and government posts, Ardeshir Zahedi as a key player in the foreign policy has represented Iran at many international conferences and official occasions: as the Head of the Iranian Delegation to many sessions of the United Nations General Assembly he signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in London and the USA on behalf of Imperial Iran. He was the Head of the Iranian Delegation for the 150th Anniversary of Argentina’s Independence, the Head of Iranian Delegation for the Independence Celebration of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Head of Iranian Delegation for the Inauguration of President of Brazil, and the Head of Iranian Delegation of the Inauguration of the President in Mexico.
During his political, Mr. Zahedi took active part in the UN discussions after Arab-Israel war in 1967 and in the preparation of the first Islamic Conference Summit in Rabat. In 1977 Ambassador Zahedi, then in the post in Washington D.C., played a key role in the release of over 165 hostages during the infamous Hanafi incident.
Mr. Zahedi has received the highest national decoration from Iran and the following countries: Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Korea, Sweden, Finland, Brazil, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ethiopia, as well as from Pope.
Mr. Zahedi received honorary Doctoral Degrees of Law and Humanities from the following American universities: The State University of Utah, East Texas State University, Kent State University, St. Louis University, Texas University, Montana State University, Washington College, Westminster College and Harvard University. He also received honorary Doctoral Degrees from Chungang University of Seoul, and the College of Political and Social Science of Lima. In December 1976, in a ceremony held in Washington D.C., Mr. Zahedi was awarded the KAPPA Sigma Fraternity ‘Man of the Year’ Award.