Photo: "Painted lady," by Andy Warhol, 1977. Image credit: the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc; the Artists Rights Society, New York; DACS London

The New York Times: Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, who was the twin sister of the last shah of Iran and who was known for her diplomatic skill and sharp political instincts, died on Thursday. She was 96.

Robert F. Armao, an adviser, said the cause was “old age.” 

Mr. Armao said Princess Ashraf died in her sleep at home in Europe but declined to name the country, citing concern for the safety of her family.  

The princess was a close ally and staunch defender of her brother, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, throughout his reign and a royalist committed to the art and culture of her homeland after the 1979 revolution that replaced the monarchy with the country’s Islamic government, said Andrew Cooper, a professor who specializes in United States-Iran relations at Columbia University.

According to an internal secret history of the C.I.A., she also played a crucial role in the British- and American-inspired military coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and restored her brother to the throne.

Princess Ashraf was known as “a very strong personality and a very strong feminist,” said Mr. Cooper, who is writing a book on the royal family. Her advocacy for the rights of women and children won her admirers among younger Iranians, he added. 

Mr. Armao, who said he had been a senior adviser to the princess for almost 40 years, described her as an accomplished diplomat, establishing Iran’s relations with China and serving as the head of the Iranian delegation to the United Nations for more than a decade.  

She is survived by her son, Prince Chahram Pahlavi; five grandchildren; and a number of great-grandchildren, Mr. Armao said. Mr. Cooper said a second son, Shahriar Pahlavi, was assassinated on a Paris street in 1979.