British envoy in 1978: The Shah? He's as safe as houses





In May 1978, protesters in Iran's major cities laid waste to luxury hotels, banks and government offices that symbolised the profligate regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. It was the first clear sign that students and Islamist revolutionaries were loosening the pro-Western dictator's iron grip on power.

But the upheaval and bloodshed that presaged the Iranian revolution did nothing to dim the belief of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Iran that the autocrat (and lucrative patron of the British arms industry) would successfully resist any effort to unceremoniously usher him from power.

Indeed, secret documents released under the 30-year rule at the National Archives in Kew, west London, show that Our Man in Tehran confidently predicted that the Shah would emerge triumphant right up until the final days of his regime and urged his bosses in Whitehall to support the ailing monarch as the best hope for Iranian stability – even as his embassy was being ransacked and set on fire.


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