Meet Iran’s Princess Noor, the exiled royal brought up as a glamorous New York socialite, who still values her Persian heritage

Princess Noor traverses two worlds — her Iranian royal heritage and her contemporary international lifestyle. Photo: @noorzpahlavi/Instagram

In January 1979, the Iranian Revolution displaced the last Shah of Iran and the monarchy with an Islamic republic. The monarchy’s deposed leader, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, exiled to the United States, where his supposed successor trained as a cadet under the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF).

This marked a new era for the Pahlavi dynasty and its succeeding generations. In 1992, Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi and his wife, Yasmine, welcomed their first child, a daughter named Noor, who was the first immediate member of the Iranian royal family to be born out of her native country.

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A modern American upbringing

All I can do is cherish the Iranian values I have, take them with me, and appreciate the freedom I have in America to be all the things I want to be
Princess Noor

Princess Noor and her younger sisters, princesses Iman and Farah, experienced an upbringing quite different than their father’s in Tehran. The eldest was born in Washington and grew up without the perks that royals usually enjoy, but also sans the heavy burden of having to eventually lead an entire nation.

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After graduating high school from Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, Noor pursued an undergraduate degree in psychology at Georgetown University. She’s now an MBA student at Columbia University and works as an adviser at Acumen, a global non-profit impact investment company.


A taste for the finer things

These credentials aside, Noor is a regular among New York’s well-heeled society. The 28-year-old lives it up by holidaying in St Barts, travelling across the world (pre-Covid-19) for celebrations and marking her attendance at hip New York exhibition launches at venues like Sotheby’s and The Frick.


Praised for her “downtown” style and the informed way in which she dresses, the young princess has graced the covers of magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Cosmopolitan Indonesia. She has her mother and grandmother, Farah Pahlavi, to thank for her love for fashion.

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She commends the latter, saying: “She’s introduced me to some of the major designers today, many of whom are her friends, but she also inspired me to support up-and-coming designers.”


An Iranian at heart

In spite of her established life in the US, Princess Noor keeps her heritage close to her heart. She engages in discourse on, where she tackles social and political issues in English and in Persian. At times, she ties her personal stories with these topics. As some Iranians still see her as a member of the imperial family, she’s caught between two different worlds.

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She once said in 2017, reported in Tehran Magazine, “All I can do is cherish the Iranian values I have, take them with me, and appreciate the freedom I have in America to be all the things I want to be.”

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The granddaughter of the last Shah of Iran has carved out a life for herself in her home country’s staunch adversary, the US, hanging at trendy art galleries and collecting high fashion