Queen Elizabeth II’s death resurfaces seven decades of British crimes against Iranians

By Arvin Qaemian


Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, was like an immortal icon, like Big Ben. Yet, as Shakespeare put it, the “ominous and fearful owl of death” ultimately perched on Her Majesty’s knees at Balmoral Castle.

Queen Elizabeth was the heiress of the British Empire’s callous and ignominious legacy, once described as “the empire on which the sun never sets.” Through their colonial reign, she and her forebears inflicted excruciating suffering on millions across the world.

Elizabeth II’s long reign spanned seven decades, during which British dark and savage colonialism metamorphosed into less visible “neocolonialism”, heralding the looming end of Pax Britannica.

Nevertheless, British corporations, like the giant British energy company (BP), continued their insatiable plundering of the national riches of numerous countries, namely Iran, by installing puppet regimes.

In this article, we will peruse the seven decades of obnoxious crimes committed by Queen Elizabeth’s government against the Iranian nation.

I. The 1953 coup d'état and the British role

The Coronation of Elizabeth II took place on June 2nd, 1953, at Westminster Abbey in London. During that year, Dr. Mossadegh, the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran and a staunch patriot, nationalized Iran’s oil industry, funneling millions of pounds into Her Majesty’s coffers.

Winston Churchill was eager to save British [illegitimate] oil interests in southern Iran as negotiations with Mossadegh reached a dead point. President Eisenhower was also fearful of growing Soviet encroachment in Iran through the communist Tudeh Party. London and Washington were desperate to persuade Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi not to escape the country. However, the Shah, all but a marionette figure, had already packed his bags. 

Meanwhile, the CIA and MI6 began orchestrating a coup d'état against Mossadegh, code-named “Operation Ajax”.

In the meantime, the BBC spearheaded Britain’s propaganda campaign, broadcasting the go-code “This is London, BBC Radio, it is precisely midnight,” signaling the green light for the coup attempt.

Initially, the coup d'état faltered, and the Shah fled to Iraq. However, after a brief exile in Rome, CIA operatives, led by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., grandson of former US President Theodore Roosevelt, showered money on the thugs and prostitutes of Tehran and traitor army officers, seizing key government offices and eventually detaining the revered Prime Minister.

The 1953 Anglo-American infamous coup remains an open wound as it outlasted the Shah’s tyranny and despotic dictatorship until the 1979 Islamic revolution. 

II. “The Fourteenth Province”: The role of the British government in separating Bahrain from Iran

After World War II, Britain was in a highly precarious situation as its economic and military might were severely decimated, leaving the country in a very vulnerable position.

Hence, the British government reluctantly adopted a strategy in the 1960s-70s to withdraw British military forces from the regions east of the Suez Canal, which included the British-occupied Iranian island of Bahrain.

However, 10 Downing Street did not want to cede Bahrain to Iran since it may serve as a base for future British interventions in the strategic Persian Gulf. The British correctly prognosticated the strategic importance of Bahrain, as today, the Persian Gulf island is the home of the US Fifth Naval Fleet.

“Several treaties, including Turkmenchay, Akhal, and Paris, have partitioned our country for over 150 years. Now, though, there is a distinction. The Iranian parliament itself ratified this agreement. According to all historical documents, Bahrain was an integral part of Iran since the Achaemenid era,” In exceptionally rare remarks, Mohsen Pezeshkpour, an Iranian MP, in a quavering voice, lambasted the Iranian government for submitting to British demands of granting independence to Bahrain’s Sheikh.

According to the British ambassador in Tehran, Sir Denis Wrightt, the most salient obstacle to Bahrain’s independence was the Iranian public’s opposition. In a meeting with Ettela’at newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Senator Abbas Masoudi, Wrightt said, “I believe the most essential hurdle is convincing the public that Bahrain is not a valuable asset for Iran.” 

Finally, a bogus independence referendum was held in Bahrain in 1970, the dubious results of which indicated that an overwhelming majority of voters backed independence from Iran. 

Under British coercion, in May 1970, the Shah, in a fake democratic gesture, relinquished Iran’s historical claim over Bahrain. The Iranians deemed abandoning Iranian sovereignty over an Iranian province populated by a majority of Persian-speaking Shiites as an unforgivable betrayal.

According to SAVAK, Shah’s secret police, Amir-Abbas Hoveyda, the then-Iranian Prime Minister, who acted more like an obsequious royal butler than a Premier, sought to vindicate his master’s treachery by saying, “Bahrain was our daughter. She grew up and got married, and we shall support her.” 

III. Iranian embassy siege in London and the suspicious British response

Twenty-six Iranian diplomats and civilians were taken hostage by six armed terrorists who raided the Iranian embassy in London on April 30th, 1980, only days after the American debacle during “Operation Eagle Claw” in Iran’s Tabas desert.

The gunmen were affiliated with a terrorist organization, “the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA),” which pledged allegiance to the Iraqi Ba’athist regime. 

The assailants’ demands were partitioning the Iranian Khuzestan Province and releasing 91 imprisoned terrorists. 

Following the failure of the terrorists to meet any of their demands, Abbas Lavasani, a young embassy employee, becomes the terrorists’ first victim. Samadzadeh, another Iranian diplomat, who was critically wounded, was killed due to the negligence of British authorities in taking him to the hospital.

When British Special Forces stormed the embassy building, they immediately shot and killed all the terrorists who had put down their guns and surrendered. The embassy’s chargé d’affaires at the time, Dr. Gholam Ali Afrouz, who witnessed the tragic incident, maintains that the British police killed the terrorists deliberately so that the clues of British collaboration or behind-the-scenes conspiracies stayed buried.

IV. Britain’s dirty secret: Equipping Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons 

In 1985, in the wake of the Iran-Iraq war, Britain surreptitiously constructed a £14 million-worth chemical factory, which Saddam used to develop his arsenal of unconventional weapons.

Located 80 kilometers from Baghdad and near the Habbaniya airport, the Falluja 2 complex manufactured mustard and nerve gas. In addition to gassing hundreds of Iranian soldiers, Saddam Hussein used his British-made chemical weapons against his Kurdish opponents, the Halabja massacre being the most egregious example.

Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady,” instructed the then-trade minister, Paul Channon, to keep the chlorine plant transaction with Baghdad carefully hidden out of fear of public outcry.

Richard Luce, the Foreign Office minister, vehemently pleaded that the agreement would tarnish Britain’s international reputation if the news leaked. 

However, under Thatcher’s strategy of supporting the Iraqi regime, Channon, who was bestowed the title “Lord Kelvedon” by Queen Elizabeth II, chided his critics that aborting the deal would harm British commercial opportunities in Iraq.

The Ba’athist regime received further military assistance from the United Kingdom. IMS, a British Ministry of Defense-owned Company, was approved in 1982 to overhaul British-made Chieftain tanks that Iran had purchased from the UK prior to the 1979 revolution and entirely paid for in advance, but London handed over the modern tanks to the Iraqi regime.

V. British role in the 2009 post-election turmoil

Many months before the 2009 presidential election, the BBC unleashed a psychological blitz, harping on the possibility of vote-rigging in Iran, setting the stage for a velvet revolution. Around 85% of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2009 presidential election, a significant turnout hailed as a democratic triumph accomplished by the Iranian nation.

However, spurious and unfounded allegations about tampering with the official results sparked a wave of instability across Iran.

Tehran blamed the British embassy staff in particular for acting as agent provocateurs. Meanwhile, the Iranian security apparatus detained nine local British Embassy employees in Tehran, encouraging people to ignite riots and vandalize public facilities. 

In the aftermath of the 2009 riots, a number of innocent citizens were murdered by anti-Iran terrorists of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) in premeditated plots to provide series of bombshell news stories for BBC and other western media.

On June 19th, 2009, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, referred to the British government as the most “wicked” of Western powers, accusing London of deploying spies into Iran to stir up tensions and unrest and sow discords before the elections.


Many naïvely argue that the deceased Queen had merely a ceremonial role. However, given her immense symbolism as head of state, who else is to blame for British government crimes against Iranians than herself?

Queen Elizabeth’s dark legacy will endure despite British historians’ continuous efforts to whitewash their country’s repugnant past in Iran.

Although King Charles III can pay homage to her “darling Mama”, but as Hamlet says, “the spirit that I have seen / May be the devil, and the devil hath power / T’ assume a pleasing shape.”


Arvin Qaemian is a political analyst based in Tehran.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

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