In early February 1979, the world’s attention was drawn to Iran, and to the collapse of the monarchy that had ruled since the time of Cyrus the Great in 550 BC.
The last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was educated in Switzerland, and came to Iran’s throne in 1941. His accession was dramatic, masterminded by an Anglo-Soviet coalition that had invaded Iran and deposed his father, who it was feared might reach an accommodation with Hitler.
By the dawning of the 1950s, the Shah was facing a growing wave of nationalism in Iran, led by the seasoned politician, Mohammad Mosaddeq. Unable to quell the country’s enthusiasm for Mosaddeq’s ideas, the Shah had little alternative except to appoint Mosaddeq as Prime Minister. In that role, Mosaddeq began to threaten international interests in Iran, and in 1953 chased the Shah out of the country.