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YASMIN, PRINCESS

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

Prince Aly Salomone Khan's first marriage was actualized on May 18, 1936 with Joan Viscountress Camrose (Princess Tajudawla) in Paris, who became the mother of the Present Imam and Prince Amyn Muhammad. She was divorced, and then Prince Aly S. Khan went to United States on business and there met a film star, Rita Hayworth. They were seen about a good deal together. They came to see Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah at Cannes, who asked them if they were really devoted to each other; they both said that they were, so he advised them to get married as soon as possible. Thus, Prince Aly S. Khan married to Rita Hayworth on May 27, 1948.

Rita Hayworth gave birth of a daughter on December 28, 1949 at the Montchoisi Clinic in Lausanne, and was named Yasmin, Arabic for Jasmine. (Jasmine is best known for the delicate and captivatingly sweet fragrance of its flowers, which are frequently used in religious ceremonies in India and in Asian and Mediterranean countries). Rita however called her Yasi. Princess Yasmin Aga Khan's first few months spent in Gstaad, where Prince Aly Khan took a cottage and gathered the family around him. This marriage was not fated to go well. Rita obtained divorce from Prince Aly Khan in a Reno court on January 26, 1953, and won custody of Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. The final divorce settlement was reached in 1954. Rita also obtained a letter from Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, assuring that Yasmin would always be returned to her, a declaration that was filed in French courts, thus giving it a legal backing. In his Memoirs, the Imam also writes, "Friends of my own and my lawyers have always maintained that I might have made a trust settlement or taken out an insurance for my small granddaughter's future. Their arguments, though well intentioned, are mistaken. They have not realized that under Islamic law the custody of a female child, until puberty, rests absolutely with her mother" (The Memoirs of Aga Khan, London, 1954, p. 314).

Princess Yasmin was admitted to the International School is Geneva, Switzerland for two years then went to the North Country School in Lake Placid New York. Her High School years were at the Buxton School in Williamstown, Mass. She then graduated from Bennington College in 1972. She then moved to New York City to continue her singing career. Her classical singing career was cut short due to the illness of her mother. At that point Yasmin became her mother's legal conservator and cared for her for the years to come. She married to Basil Embiricos, and old Etonian and member of a rich Greek shipping family, in March, 1984. They married in a civil ceremony in Paris, which was followed by a reception for 500 guests at the Ritz Hotel. The Present Imam attended it with his wife and children, Prince Amyn Muhammad, Umm Habibeh, whom Yasmin was very close to, Prince Sadruddin and a galaxy of the distinguished guests. Rita Hayworth of course could not attend due to illness.

Princess Yasmin and Basil Embiricos had a son, Andrew Embiricos, who was born on December 11, 1985. Her married life lasted no more and their divorce took place in December, 1993. Princess Yasmin was with Rita as often as possible, devoting herself closely to making sure her mother was well cared for. She bought an apartment next to her in New York overlooking Central Park and supervised its decoration. It may be noted that her father occupied a special place in her heart. During his sudden death, she was only ten years old - a stunning blow from which she still had not recovered. Upon entering the front hallway of her apartment, one can see a giant photograph of her father in a silver frame that sat on an antique oriental gilt chest. Up until Prince Aly's death she would spend the summers with him and spend the summers in the South of France with Umm Habibeh, whom she considered a kind of mentor. During the late seventies Rita was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, but fading fast and that is when Princess Yasmin brought her mother to New York and bought her the apartment right next door to hers. She had full time, twenty-four hour nursing care for her mother.

It prompted Princess Yasmin to launch a campaign to combat the Alzheimer disease. It must be known that Alzheimer's (alz-hy-merz) disease (AD) is a physical illness that causes changes in the brain. It is a form of dementia (di-MEN-shuh). Dementia affects a person's memory, mood, and behavior. Alzheimer's disease usually affects people over 65. The earliest case is 28 years and the average age is 65 years old. A person with this disease has trouble remembering, speaking, learning, making judgments, and planning. Some people feel restless and moody. It may take many years for Alzheimer's disease to get worse. Where upon they no longer recognize their loved ones and cannot perform the simple daily tasks. The neurotransmitters no long transmit and the body fails, leading to death.


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