This photo is from October 1971 with Renée & Naim Dangoor being received by Iranian Ambassador and lady Avshar and their daughter at the Persepolis Festivities held at the Savoy in London.
In 1971 Iran celebrated the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire established by Cyrus the great to which all the heads of state were invited to week long festivities. As Iran could not invite the president of Israel because of Arab objections, and as it was considered unacceptable that the festivities should pass without a Jewish presence, the Iranian ambassador in London on Tehran's instructions, invited Renée & Naim to lead a large delegation of Babylonian Jews to the festivities that were held at the Savoy in London, to which the Prime Minister and members of the diplomatic corps were invited. This photo has found its way to Iranian and Iraqi websites such as:
I wanted to say just a few words about our beloved grandmother, Renée, Mama, who we very sadly lost a few days ago.
Throughout my childhood Mama was a warm and loving presence in every part of my life. Some of the times I remember most fondly are the Shabbat afternoons spent with Mama and Papa at their flat in Kensington. After synagogue we would take, what felt to my young legs, the very long walk across Kensington Gardens to see them. But we were amply rewarded. Mama had always laid on the most marvellous spread and I remember piling my plate high full of sumptuous food. Delicious Iraqi dishes as well as one of Mamas specialties reminding us of her childhood in China, Peking duck one of my favourites.
After such a big lunch a Shabbat nap was almost inevitable and I used to curl up on the sofa to the sound of the adults chatting away. My overwhelming memories of those times spent with Mama and Papa was one of happiness, warmth and security. I felt like their flat was almost an extension of our house and I was totally at home there. With those lazy afternoons came an immensely strong sense of family, which I am forever indebted to both Mama and Papa for. Mama filled their flat in Albert Hall Mansions with kindness and beauty, and I always felt very lucky to have such a glamorous and elegant grandmother as Mama. To this day one of my biggest claims to fame is that my grandmother was Miss Baghdad 1947 now how many people can say that! I felt so proud when a few years back an Iraqi newspaper in London published the photograph of Mama with the sash she was awarded, as a symbol of the old vibrant and cosmopolitan Baghdad.Over the past few days we have seen just how much love was felt for Mama by so many people - a testament to her warm character, and her integrity. But none more so than my grandfather, Naim. In recent years when Mama was unwell I have watched Papa devote himself to her in a way that is rare and inspiring. Throughout my life Mama and Papa were such a strong unit standing together in everything they did and this has been a wonderful example to me, along with that of my parents, about the kind of relationship one should strive for.
Sometimes people tell me that something in me reminds them of Mama at my age, and for me a higher compliment could not be paid. It is a great honour to feel that part of her lives on in me, and I hope I can bring to the family that I hope to have one day, the love, strength and togetherness that she has given to hers.
Baghdad used to be a city of peace and tolerance, where people enjoyed calmly drinking their coffee, strolling with ease, retiring at night with confidence, and waking up in the morning with a new hope. People were really living the good life.
In those days, Iraqis were satisfied with the simplicity of their lives, feeling secure in their homes and streets. They were able to plan their days and nights without any fear for their lives or those of their children from primary school on to graduation, career and marriage. And they also had the opportunity to value beauty and appreciate it and even to hold beauty contests:
Archive photo of Renée Dangoor, Beauty Queen of Iraq 1947
Translation of article above
In the 1940s Iraq was a flower trying to bloom into beautiful life. It hoped to grow to the rhythms of another era, not hindered by the social constraints or dark illusions which afflicted those who wanted to suppress it. Instead Iraq would break the vicious circle, holding in its grasp the beauty of its trees and its birds, of its olives and its dates and its oranges.
Here is Renée Dangoor greeting you from the 1940s, wishing you a Happy New Year, and hoping that it will be a year fortified by beauty, wisdom and intelligence.