The Crown Prince of Iran has addressed the Oxford Union as part of his UK tour, in order to draw attention to the ongoing situation in Iran and appeal to the West for support in aiding the Iranian people. The Prince’s visit to Oxford drew an unprecedented crowd of supporters, with hundreds of attendees rallying to hear his message, creating an atmosphere not seen in the city for quite some time. The Prince’s speech has been widely praised for its clarity and conviction, and is sure to spark further discussion on the global stage regarding the role of the West in shaping the future of Iran.
The Crown Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, is the oldest son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, Pahlavi was the Crown Prince and the last in line for the imperial throne. Today, Pahlavi is known as the founder and leader of the self-proclaimed National Council of Iran, an exiled opposition group that is fiercely critical of Iran’s Islamic Republic government. Currently based in Great Falls, Virginia in the United States, Pahlavi remains a prominent figure in the Iranian political landscape, calling for democratic reforms and human rights in his homeland. His past and present actions have brought him both support and controversy, making him a figure of interest to many in the international community.
As the clock struck 3pm, a multitude of demonstrators began to converge on St Michaels Street, clutching the distinctive flags of the former Iranian regime. Amongst the sea of banners and placards, portraits of the Crown Prince were placed prominently, in a powerful display of solidarity. The faces of victims of the current regime were emblazoned on posters, a sobering reminder of the ongoing conflict, serving as a poignant testament to the struggles of the Iranian people.
The demonstration on St Michael’s Street continued to gain momentum well after 4pm, as hundreds more demonstrators poured in, now equipped with microphones to amplify their voices. The air was filled with powerful chants, including “King of Kings”, “The Crown Prince is my representative”, “Britain, Britain please help us”, and “Restoration of the monarchy now”. The powerful messages were conveyed in a chorus of languages, with English, Persian, and Arabic ringing out in unison.
Police began to arrive in large numbers at this point to ensure public safety, as opposed to halting some sort of protest – OxStu spoke to the Bronze Commander on scene who said, “We are here to ensure public safety, we have no fear of how the people here are acting”. Another Police officer told OxStu this wasn’t a protest but a show of solidarity with the Crown Prince.
By 5pm, just before the Crown Prince’s arrival, around 700 people were now outside of the Union buildings. The Crown Prince arrived and waved to the adoring crowd. The Prince’s arrival was greeted with rapturous applause, as supporters swarmed towards him, creating a throng of eager admirers. The situation quickly threatened to become overwhelming, so the Prince’s security detail and police officers on duty had to work hard to manage the enthusiastic crowd and ensure the Prince’s safe passage into the Union chamber.
OxStu spoke to one of the organisers of the demonstration who said, “We are here to show support for our King, people have come all across the country to see him, people have come from London, Birmingham and Scotland… We want the British government’s help to remove the Islamic republic.
Inside the Union chamber the Crown Prince called for “national justice” and argued that lower ranking officials should be forgiven, and that persecution should focus on those really responsible”. An attendee asked the Crown Prince about “high faith” and whether he buys into it. The Crown Prince responded by saying “secular is a prerequisite to democracy”. The Crown Prince argued that Islamic countries fail because democratic regimes have religious freedom where they can create spaces for religions to flourish and by not accepting those ideals has led to the situation present in many Islamic countries.
Amid heightened security concerns, the Crown Prince was escorted by a formidable entourage of over 100 police officers and internal security personnel as he prepared to leave the Union buildings. The tight security measures were necessary to ensure the safety of the Prince amidst the excitement of the crowd. The police escort also necessitated the temporary closure of St Michael’s Street, and the convoy caused significant disruption to the local area, with restaurants and pubs on George Street forced to contend with an unusual influx of traffic. Despite the inconvenience, the situation was ultimately handled with professionalism and efficiency, ensuring the Prince’s visit concluded without incident.
Demonstrators showed their thanks to the British Police by chanting “Thank you British Police for helping us see our King” and “Thank you for protecting him and us”.
This recent event at the Union marks the second occasion in recent weeks in which the organisation has found itself at the centre of significant demonstrations, with both supporters and detractors taking to the streets to voice their opinions. This heightened level of attention suggests that the Union has become even more of a focal point for public discourse and debate, with the organisation’s events drawing intense scrutiny and interest from all slides of the political spectrum.