Taking a note from the people who overthrew her uncle, the shah, Princess Azzedeh Shafik has vowed to mount a counter-revolutionary movement from Paris, designed to bring to power a younger generation of the imperial family.
"The countdown starts today" for the restoration of the Iranian monarchy. Azzadeh, 28, said in an intense two-hour interview in the oak-paneled living room of her house in a fashionable cul-de-sac called Villa Dupont.
"I'm starting here just like everyone started. I'm going to do exactly what Khomeini did. The countdown starts today. It's not Neauphle-le-Chateau, it's the Villa Dupont. We're going to take a plane and fly back just like he did. Why not?"
It was from his base in French exile at Neauphle-le-Chateau just outside Paris that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini directed the revolution that overthrew the shah and led to the aged leader's triumphal return to Iran.
After months of keeping a low profile, there has been a spate of activity in recent weeks by members of the shah's family, much of it spurred by the assassination on a Paris street 2 1/2 weeks ago of Princess Azzadeh's brother, Shariar Mustapha Shafik, a 34-year-old officier in the shah's Navy.
Azzadeh's mother -- the shah's twin sister -- Princess Ashraf, has bitterly condemned the revolutionary, government in Tehran for her son's death, but Azzadeh apparently has moved in to pick up his political banner.
Azzadeh made it clear in the interview that she was moving to rally a younger generation of monarchists, bypassing her mother and her uncle.
The princess said she did not think that the shah could be restored to power but that the principle of the monarchy must be restored "at all costs" to provide a symbol for national unity. The regional revolts under the Islamic republic have proved, she said, that "Islam is not enough" to hold the country together.
Once the princple of the monarchy is restored, she said, it will be for the people to decide whom it wants as king. Between the shah's two sons, the 19-year-old crown prince and his 13-year-old brother, the younger one seems to be more popular among the Iranians she has talked to, Azzadeh said.
Azzadeh's uncle, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and Princess Ashraf would not be cast aside but would be important advisers to their politically inexperience children, she said. "I'm working for a generation that is not his," she said, calling her uncle "the sage of the family."
Wearing little makeup and faded, fitted denim jeans and a crocheted vest, Azzadeh poured herself a cup after cup of cold coffee. Her lawyer said she had been working feverishly, night and day since her brother was shot down outside the house by an assailant whose act was claimed by an Iranian judicial authority.
Asked if she has sought the blessings of the shah and of her mother, Azzadeh's French lawyer and political counselor, Marc Valle, said; "She will not disavowed, I can only tell you that much. She decided on her own to do this, but she will not be disavowed. She incarnates the hopes of her generation."
For eight months we were told to keep quiet, to wait until America gives us the green light," said the young princess, pacing furiously. "When we saw my brother dead on the pavement we began to understand."
What she said she understood was that the United States and other Western powers are backing Shahpour Bakhtiar, who was the shah's last prime minister -- named in an attempt to appease the revolutionaries -- and who also is in Paris exile and proclaiming his readiness to return. Hence the West has abandoned the monarchy, she said.
"Bakhtiar in waiting for the messiah to come and bring him home to Iran on a silver platter," said Azzadeh. "Let him wait. What has he done? Nothing. I think the time has come to move.If you want to return to your country, you do something."
"My brother was pure," she said. "That made him dangerous. That's why he was killed. He was on none of the lists of wanted people. He was the only credible person to rally both the military and the civilians."
There have been reports that Shafik was planning to go to Iraq to lead fellow navel officers in exile there in a coup attempt on Dec. 9.
Lawyer Valle, the family's representative in the French police investigation of the assassination, said, "He was killed because of what he was about to do. Serious events were about to occur. He was about to rally the Iranian people around his name."
Azzedeh implied that she has tactical differences with her brother about how to oust the Khomeini regime, that her brother, as a military man, naturally thought of using military force. But, she said, "between my brother and me there never any disagreement about what we wanted to accomplish. I am taking up his struggle to the finish. He went to the finish. Why not me?"
She professes as much bitterness against Bakhtiar, who was rejected by Khomeini, as against the Islamic revolutionary leader himself. "We have compiled a dossier this thick on Bakhtiar," she said, putting her hands about six inches apart.
Azzadeh accused them both of having been in touch with the SAVAK secret police of the shah and the CIA. Bakhtiar was in the pay of her family Pahlavi Foundation, she said.
She became even more animated when she accused Bakhtiar of having lied by saying after her brother was killed Dec. 7 that he had not met the young navel officer since his own escape from Iran to Paris this summer.
"Let him say that to me to my face, in public, before the TV cameras. He used my brother like he used everyone else. He told my brother he backed him. No one will try to kill Bakhtiar. He's not important enough."
While she insisted that she wants power through political, not military action, she made it clear that she intends to stay in touch with the young Iranian officers who were associates of her brother.
Those officers, she said, have told her "a hundred times" that they want a regime that knows its own mind -- "rather national communism than a flabby social democracy," she said, referring to Bakhtian's politics.
Military action, she said, should come only to solidify power after political action has restored the monarchy.
As for Khomeini, she said he would be placed on trial "in a public square" where the people who brought him to power will be asked to cross-examine him about whether he has "betrayed his religion, his people and his country."
Khomeini would be allowed to defend himself fully and freely, she said, and the people would decide what to do with him -- whether to send him back into exile or to let him live in Iran as a simple mullah. She would not discuss the option of executing him.
The shah's only weakness, she said, was that he was too loyal to his friends and could not believe that they were corrupt people are around Bakhtiar, since they are betting on him as their ticket back to power.
She said her mother gives her money occasionally for her weekly newspaper, Free Iran. It has a circulation of 5,000, half in Persian and half in French, she said. Half of the Presian-language copies and distributed in Iran, she added.
Backing her, Azzadeh said, is a committed of 21 university professors, jurists and other prominent intellecutals.
She has a 6-year-old son but is apparently separated from her husband and perfers not to talk about her personal life. But, she says, recalling that she studied literature, "I always wanted to write. I still think I will someday. But this is not the time to think about myself.I must throw myself into the world of reality."