Iran hails Queen’s death with official silence

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Tehran (AFP) – Tehran has avoided any official comment on Queen Elizabeth II’s death, but some Iranians have expressed outright hostility, accusing Britain of supporting the late shah’s regime.

Unlike many countries with full coverage, the Islamic Republic’s state television reported the bare minimum Thursday on the death of the woman who had been the world’s longest reigning monarch, with just a brief announcement accompanied by archival images and photographs.

Haniyeh, a student, told AFP she learned of the queen’s death through social media.

“I saw the news of his death on Instagram. I didn’t feel anything, and frankly, I don’t care,” she said.

Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 aged just 27 and died in Scotland on Thursday aged 96.

Broadcasters around the world interrupted normal programming to announce her death, but young northern Tehran market trader Faraz said he hadn’t even heard of her.

“I don’t have a TV at home and I’m not interested in politics. I didn’t know her,” he said.

Many Iranians are interested in politics, both domestic and international. But most remain indifferent to the world’s royal families since the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the country’s monarchy.

Faezeh, a 26-year-old nurse, told AFP: “I didn’t know anything about her, and her death means nothing to me.”

Queen Elizabeth visited Iran in 1961, staying at the magnificent Golestan Palace in Tehran. She also visited Isfahan, Shiraz and Persepolis, accompanied by Farah Pahlavi, then empress.

Elizabeth’s son Charles – now Britain’s King Charles III – visited Iran on a humanitarian mission following the devastating 2003 earthquake in Bam, southern -est, which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.

A complex story

Relations between the UK and Iran have always been complex.

British and Soviet forces invaded Iran in 1941 to secure Britain’s oil fields at Abadan.

During the occupation, the pro-Axis Shah Reza Pahlavi was forced into exile and replaced by his young son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Britain also supported Pahlavi’s army when the Kurdish republic of Mahabad was crushed in 1946.

But what Iranians remember most is the August 1953 overthrow by the British and American secret services of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had nationalized the oil industry.

“Queen Elizabeth II was one of those who orchestrated the coup that overthrew the government of Dr Mossadegh” to restore the shah, Twitter user Helma wrote.

Another Twitter user, Majid, was more blunt.

“Don’t make the Queen of England a saint,” he wrote.

“Among his crimes were aiding the Baathist Iraqi regime against Iran (during the 1980-88 war), the coup against Mossadegh, the murder of Princess Diana, aiding the US attacks on the Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, and the murder of the people of Northern Ireland.”

However, a passage from the recent book “The Secret Royals” by Richard J. Aldrich and Rory Cormac gives a rather different view.

The authors write that the late queen “considered the shah a crushing annoyance and hated his company as he spoke only of administrative matters”.

But they also say that in 1979, after the Islamic Revolution, she was “angry to have let the shah down” when the government in London balked at suggestions to offer her asylum in Britain.

However, members of the British royal family have remained in the memory of supporters of Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s fifth president between 1997 and 2005.

The “@Khatamy” Instagram account, with nearly a million followers, shared photographs of the Queen, as well as photos of her son Charles with Khatami.

Khatami, considered a moderate in Iranian politics, said the British should be appreciated for “establishing democracy”.