Since his early childhood, Ardeshir Zahedi has played a major role as a participant and witness to major events in the history of Iran.
He was born in 1928 in the historic town of Hamadan, an ancient capital of Iran, to Fazlollah Zahedi, a general who had been instrumental in keeping Iran unified, and Khadijeh Pirnia, the daughter of Nasrollah Khan Motamen od-Dowleh, who served as the first prime minister of Iran under the Constitution, in 1907.
During World War II, when Ardeshir was twelve, his father, who had been commander of the Isfahan military division, was arrested by the occupying allied forces and held captive in Palestine until 1945.
After attending the University of Beirut and completing his studies at Utah State University, Ardeshir returned to Iran to become deputy director of the newly created Point Four Program. During the tumultuous events of the summer of 1953, he was at the side of his father. During Fazlollah Zahedi’s premiership (1953-1955), Ardeshir became the liaison between the government and the monarch.
In 1957 he married the Shah’s first child, Princess Shahnaz. A year later, their only child, Princess Mahnaz, was born.
In 1960 he dedicated his life to diplomacy. He was appointed as ambassador to the United States (1960-62); to the court of St. James (1962-1966); and as Foreign Minister of Iran (1966-1971). From 1973 until the Iranian revolution in 1979, he served as Iranian ambassador to the United States for the second time.
He was an active participant in the peace discussion after the Arab-Israeli war in 1967 and in the preparation of the first Islamic Conference Summit. In 1968 he signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on behalf of Iran. In 1971 he negotiated the independence of Bahrain. In 1977 a group of Hanafi Muslims took over the B’nai B’rith headquarters in Washington. Zahedi, along with the ambassadors of Egypt and Pakistan, personally negotiated and helped release the 149 hostages. He has personally known a majority of world leaders of the latter half of the twentieth century, including ten U.S. presidents. To Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi, he was a son-in-law, adviser, confidante, and friend.
After 1979 he moved to Switzerland where he presently resides. He is actively writing the third volume of his memoirs. The first two volumes have been published in Persian, English, and French.