On February 22, 1921, Reza Khan-e Mir-Panj (Persian: رضا خان میرپنج), as was then his name, staged a coup d'état. He was a military commander who had risen from the ranks to command the Cossack Division and Ministry of War. His rule was formalized when he was proclaimed Shah by the Iranian Assembly on December 12, 1925. He took his imperial oath on December 15, 1941 and so became the first Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty.
Marching his troops from Qazvin, 150 kilometres to the west of Teheran, General Reza Khan seized key parts of the capital almost without opposition and forced the government to resign. His first post was as army commander, which he later combined with the post of Minister of War, taking at the same time the title Sardar Sepah. Until 1923 there were civilian prime ministers, but the future monarch soon increased his powers. In 1923 he became Prime Minister, and soon afterwards the last Shah of the Qajar Dynasty, Ahmad Mirza Qajar was deposed and left for Europe. On December 12, 1925, the Majlis, convening as a constituent assembly, voted to Crown Pahlavi as its Shah.
Under Reza Shah's 16 years rule the roads and Trans-Iranian Railway were built, modern education was introduced and the University of Tehran was established, and for the first time systematically dispatch of Iranian students to Europe was started. Industrialization of country was stepped-up, and achievements were great, but by the mid 1930s Reza Shah's dictatorial style of rule caused dissatisfaction in Iran.
The grandson of Reza Pahlavi, son of Mohammad, is also called Reza Pahlavi (born October 31, 1960). He is claimant to the Iranian throne.
In 1978, the then Crown Prince of Iran left his homeland and completed his higher education in the United States. He is an accomplished jet fighter pilot and a political science graduate of the University of Southern California.
Reza Pahlavi has lived in Morocco, Egypt and, since 1984, the United States. With his wife, Yasmine Etemad Amini and two daughters, Noor (April 3, 1992) and Iman (September 12, 1993), they live in Maryland.