The Pahlavi Dynasty: Shahs of Iran

The Pahlavi dynasty is an Iranian royal dynasty that produced two monarchs of Persia/Iran. It was founded in 1925, when Reza Khan — a former Brigadier-General of the Persian Cossack Brigade — deposed the Qajar dynasty and declared himself Shah, adopting the dynastic name of Pahlavi, which recalls the Middle Persian language of the Sasanian Empire. Reza Shah was forced by the invading British to abdicate in favor of his son the Crown Prince Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who replaced his father as Shah on the throne on 16 September 1941. As a result of the Islamic Revolution, he left for exile on 17 January 1979.

On his death, his son Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi succeeded him in absentia as heir apparent to the Pahlavi dynasty. Reza Pahlavi and his wife live in the United States in Potomac, Maryland, with three daughters. As of 2013, Reza Pahlavi established the National Council of Iran in Paris that serves his government in exile in order to reclaim the former throne after overthrowing the current Islamic Republic government. More recently, in February 2019, Pahlavi launched an initiative called the Phoenix Project of Iran. According to the National Interest, this is "designed to bring the various strains of the opposition closer to a common vision for a post-clerical Iran." (This temporary text has been reproduced from this article and will be replaced with our own text soon.) 

Imperial Coat of Arms of Pahlavi Iran. The shield comprises: (1) the Lion and Sun (2) the Faravahar (3) a Sassanid sword and (4) the Simurgh. The center depicts Mount Damavand with a rising sun, a Pahlavi symbol. The Pahlavi Crown crowns the shield. The motto roughly means "Justice he bids me do, as he will judge me."

Imperial Crown commissioned by Pahlavi dynasty founder Reza Shah. It was used in his 1926 coronation and his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's 1967 coronation. Produced by Iranian jewellers led by Haj Serajeddin, the crown takes inspiration from the Sasanian Empire (224–651 AD) the last Persian dynasty before the Muslim conquest.

Reza Pahlavi (left), Head of the House of Pahlavi, beside the wax figures of Shahbanou (Empress) Farah, Mohammad Reza Shah, and Reza Shah. Toronto, Canada, June 2019. Credit: unknown. Extracted from here.

Reigned as

Shâh (Emperor) of Iran
Shâhanshâh of Iran, with style His Imperial Majesty


First Shah

Reza Shah (Reigned 15 December 1925 to 16 September 1941)

Second Shah

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Reigned 16 September 1941 to 11 February 1979)


Reza Pahlavi (Head of the House of Pahlavi since 31 October 1980)


Reza Shah: 25 April 1926
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi: 26 October 1967


Imperial State of Iran (1925–1979) known as the Imperial State of Persia from 1925 to 1935

Objects in our Collection

Armorial plate Shah of Iran Pahlavi

Armorial Plate, 1970s

Armorial plate made for the Imperial Household of Iran, 1970s.