The 44-year-old younger son of the late Shah of Iran committed suicide by shooting himself at his home in Boston, his family said triggering an outpour of mourning from Iranians émigrés world over.
Prince Ali-Reza Pahlavi was found dead inside his home in Boston, according to the city police and posting on his website by his elder brother and former crown prince Reza Pahlavi.
"His Royal Highness Prince Ali Reza Pahlavi of Iran, son of the late Shah of Iran and Her Majesty Farah Pahlavi, passed away in the early hours of January 4, in Boston. He is survived by his mother, Her Majesty Farah Pahlavi, his older brother Reza, his sister Farahnaz, and his half-sister Shahnaz," said the message posted on the website.
"Like millions of young Iranians, he too was deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland, as well as carrying the burden of losing a father and a sister in his young life," Reza Pahlavi wrote.
Born in Tehran on April 28, 1966, Ali Reza attended schools in Iran before travelling to the United States during the Iranian revolution in 1979. He obtained a BA from Princeton University in 1984, a Masters Degree from Columbia University in 1992 and attended Harvard University in pursuit of a PhD in Ancient Iranian Studies.
"Ali Reza was intelligent, sensitive, loyal, and dedicated to Iranian civilisation, as well as to his family and friends. His counsel, wisdom and sense of humour will be profoundly missed and always cherished," the website said.
Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said that "preliminary investigation suggests that the bullet wound was self-inflicted."
Neighbours said Pahlavi was reserved and quiet, reported Boston Globe. He bought the five-story brick rowhouse in 2001, according to city records, and renovated it, the daily said.
Daniel Shannon, a doctor and scientist who lived across the street from Pahlavi, said he first met the prince in 1973 in his father's castle in Iran, where Shannon had gone with a small group of doctors and scientists to advise the shah, who wanted to build a medical science centre.
John Tirman, a professor of international affairs at MIT in Cambridge, said the Pahlavi family has not played a major role in Iranian politics since the family left Iran, partly because the family was reviled by many Iranians because of the ruthlessness of the Shah's regime and the family's extravagant lifestyle while in power.
The late Shah, Mohammad Reza, who left Iran following the 1979 revolution, moved with his family to the US and died the next year.
Image: File picture of Prince Ali-Reza (left) with his mother Farah Pahlavi
Photograph: Jean Paul Pelissier/Reuters