Birthday: June 13, 1911
Died At Age: 48
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan
Born Country: Italy
Born in: Turin, Italy
Famous as: Father of Aga Khan IV
Spouse/Ex-: Joan Yarde-Buller (m. 1936–1949), Rita Hayworth (m. 1949–1953)
father: Aga Khan III
mother: Cleope Teresa Magliano
siblings: Prince Giuseppe Mahdi Aga Khan, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
children: Aga Khan IV, Prince Amyn Muhammad, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan
Died on: May 12, 1960
place of death: Suresnes
City: Turin, Italy
awards: Bronze Star Medal
Who was Prince Aly Khan?
Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan, or His Highness Prince Aly Khan (or simply “Aly Khan”) was a socialite, racehorse owner, and jockey, better known as the younger son of the 48th “imam” of the Nizari Ismaili religion, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III. The latter was a founder of the ‘All-India Muslim League’ and served as its first president. Aly was also known as the third husband of noted yesteryear American actor and dancer Rita Hayworth. Aly was known for his highly public affair with American film and stage actor Gene Tierney, which probably led his father to count him out for succession as “Aga Khan.” Following this, Aly served as the “Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations” for a couple of years. There, he was made a vice president of the ‘General Assembly.’ His son, Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, succeeded Aly’s father, Aga Khan III, as Aga Khan IV, and presently serves as the 49th “imam” of Nizari Ismailism.
Childhood & Early Life
Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan was born on June 13, 1911, in Turin, Italy, to Aga Khan III (who was born in Karachi, British India, which is currently in Pakistan) and Italian-born Cleope Teresa "Ginetta" Magliano. He was the younger of their two sons. When his parents married, his mother was working with the ‘Ballet Opera of Monte Carlo’ as a ballerina.
His elder brother, Prince Giuseppe Mahdi Aga Khan, died in 1911. His half-brother, Sadruddin Aga Khan, was born through his father’s third marriage, with Andrée Joséphine Carron.
His great-grandfather, Hasan Ali Shah, the 46th “imam” of the Nizari Ismaili Muslims, was presented with the title of “Aga Khan I.” The latter’s eldest son, Aqa Ali Shah, succeeded him as the “imam” and became known as Aga Khan II, who in turn was succeeded by Aly’s father as the 48th “imam,” Aga Khan III.
Aly was homeschooled by private tutors in both India and France. Sources mention Mr. C.M. Waddington, ex-principal of the ‘Mayo College,’ as one of his private tutors. He was fluent in Oxford English, French, and Arabic languages. When Aly was 18, his father sent him to Cairo to undertake training in the Egyptian sexual art form “imsak.” He later went to England in 1929, where he trained in law at ‘Lincoln’s Inn,’ under noted chancery lawyer Charles Romer. While in London, he became involved with the city’s social life, women, race cars, and horses.
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Race Horse Owner & Jockey
Aly displayed his horse riding skills from an early age. His father owned thoroughbred racing horses. These included winners of the ‘Derby’ and the ‘British Classic Races.’
Aly followed in the footsteps of his father and became a successful horse breeder and trader, owning some of the finest race horses. He was also a talented amateur jockey who made his debut in 1930 and eventually won several reputed races, such as the ‘French Amateur Derby,’ the ‘Bar Steeplechase,’ and the ‘Prix des Lions.’
With time, Aly developed as an expert in horse trading, with a great eye for good horses. He was made a full partner of his father’s stud farms and horse racing acquisitions in France and Ireland.
Stint with the Military & the United Nations
Aly became part of the ‘French Foreign Legion’ in 1939. He served the cavalry division and was posted in Egypt and the Middle East. The following year, he joined the ‘Royal Wiltshire Yeomantry.’ In 1944, he was made a lieutenant colonel. That year, he remained part of the allied forces that landed in the south of France. Ranked as a captain, Aly served his tenure as a liaison officer and was later recognized for this service in 1950 by being inducted as an officer into the ‘Legion of Honor.’
He received the ‘United States Bronze Star Medal’ and the ‘Croix de Guerre.’ During a Pakistani military ceremony in 1957, Aly was made the “1st Colonel of the Regiment” of the newly formed ‘4 Cavalry Regiment’ of the Pakistani army. He held this title till his death.
He was offered the position of Pakistan’s ambassador to the ‘United Nations’ after he met Pakistani President Iskander Mirza in November 1957. His appointment was formally announced on February 6, 1958. He represented Pakistan while serving as a member of the ‘Political and Security Committee of the United Nations.’
On September 17, 1958, he became the vice president of the ‘United Nations General Assembly.’ His tenure with the intergovernmental organization also saw him serving as the chairman of its ‘Peace Observation Committee.’
Family & Personal Life
Aly married Hon. Joan Barbara Guinness on May 18, 1936 in Paris, a few days after her divorce from Group Captain Thomas Loel Guinness. Joan, an English socialite and daughter of John Yarde-Buller, 3rd Baron Churston, converted to Islam prior to her marriage with Aly and adopted the name “Tajuddawlah.”
Aly was one of the respondents of the Guinness and Khan divorce suit. He was directed to pay all costs of the uncontested case.
Aly and Joan had two sons together: Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, born in 1936, and Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan, born in 1937. Aly also had a stepson named Patrick Guinness from Joan’s marriage with Leol. Aly and Joan divorced in 1949, mostly due to Aly’s extramarital affairs, including his affair with Pamela Churchill.
Not long after his divorce from Joan, Aly married Rita Hayworth on May 27, 1949. She left her film career for the marriage. Their daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, was born on December 26 that year. Although Rita had no interest in horse racing, following her marriage with Aly, she joined the ‘Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’ as a member. Double Rose, Rita’s filly, won various races in France and became the runner-up at the ‘Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe’ in 1949.
Tensions started building up in Aly’s second marriage in 1951, after he was seen dancing with actor Joan Fontaine at a nightclub. In a turn of events, Rita filed for divorce from Aly on September 2, 1951, citing extreme mental cruelty. During the custody fight for Yasmin, Aly mentioned that although he wanted to raise the child as a Muslim, Rita wanted to bring her up as a Christian. The divorce was finalized in 1953. Aly offered to give US$1,000,000 if Yasmin were to be raised as a Muslim from 7 years of age and allowed to visit him in Europe for a couple of months every year. However, this offer was rejected by Rita.
Aly became romantically associated with American film and stage actor Gene Tierney while he was still married to Rita. He got engaged to Gene in 1952. His father was, however, not in favor of Aly getting involved with another Hollywood actor. Aly and Gene separated after a year of their engagement.
Over the years, Aly remained romantically associated with several other women, including Ethel Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll; Thelma Furness, Viscountess Furness; and model Simone Micheline Bodin. Aly also got engaged to Simone. They lost their unborn child when Simone miscarried following a car accident.
Disregarded for Succession as Aga Khan
Aly was not considered by his father as a successor. This was the first time in the 1,300-year history of the community that the order of succession from father to son was avoided. After his father died on July 11, 1957, in Versoix, near Geneva, Switzerland, the latter’s will was brought from London to Geneva by a solicitor and read out before the family. According to the will, Aly’s son, Karim Aga Khan, who was at that time a student at ‘Harvard University,’ was named Aga Khan IV and the 49th “imam” of the Ismailis.
Aly died on May 12, 1960, in Suresnes, France, shortly after he met with a car accident. Initially, his remains were interred in the grounds of the Modernist villa called the ‘Château de l'Horizon’ purchased by him in 1948. It was a temporary arrangement, as plans were made that a mausoleum would be built for him in Syria, where his remains would be transferred. Accordingly, on July 11, 1972, his remains were taken to Damascus, Syria, and re-interred in Salamiyah, Syria.