NEWS

An overdose of loneliness claims Shah’s second wife

Soraya Esfandiary had everything the gods could offer a girl. Born in 1932 to a German mother and an Iranian father from the powerful Bakhtiar clan, she was educated in Europe and at the age of 19, became the second wife of the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. She was beautiful and the Shah was madly in love with her. She was on the front cover of all the magazines, Western courts were at her feet and the Shah gave her a magnificent emerald necklace to match her lovely eyes. He had already divorced his first wife, Fawzia, sister of King Farouk of Egypt, for giving him a daughter but no son to succeed him. In 1958, it was Soraya’s turn, after she failed to bear children. Keeping her jewels and the title of princess, the melancholy Soraya headed for the jet set watering holes, sometimes alone, sometimes with a woman friend. She never remarried. The Shah took as his third wife Farah Diba, who gave him two sons and two daughters. One of them, Leyla Pahlavi, was found dead in a London hotel room earlier this year, of a drug overdose. The Shah himself died in exile in Egypt, in 1980. Soraya was found dead in her Paris apartment on Thursday by her cleaning lady, who informed police. According to the authorities, she died of natural causes. Vasso Papandreou is now at the Environment and Public Works Ministry, the former fiefdom of Costas Laliotis. Yiannos Papantoniou has moved from the National Economy to the National Defence Ministry and Akis Tsochadzopoulos has gone from the Pentagon and the top brass to another economic ministry, the Development Ministry. No wonder neither looked particularly pleased. Those who fared best were those who kept their posts: George Papandreou at the Foreign Ministry, Michalis Chrysochoidis at Public Order, Petros Efthymiou at Education – with Eleni Kourkoula to lend a helping hand – Alekos Papadopoulos at Health and Christos Verelis at Transport. Who was worst off? Surely Costas Skandalidis, who went from the post of PASOK general secretary to the Interior Ministry. And spare a thought for poor Dimitris Reppas, who was transferred from the Press Office to the Labor Ministry, where he will now have to wrestle with the demanding issue of social security reforms. Tears flowed from his eyes as he handed his portfolio over to Christos Protopappas. There are now 48 passengers on the new Cabinet ‘train,’ plus the Prime Minister, all heading along the track to 2004!