Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar  (July 16, 1831 – May 1, 1896) (Persian: ناصرالدین شاه قاجار transliteration: Nāṣirid-Dīn Shāh Qājār) was the King and Shah of Persia from September 17, 1848 to May 1, 1896 when he was assassinated. He was the son of Mohammad Shah Qajar and the second longest reigning monarch king in Persian history after Shapur II of the Sassanid Dynasty. He had sovereign power for close to 50 years and was also the first Persian monarch to ever write and publish his diaries.He was in Tabriz when he heard of his father’s death in 1848, and he ascended to the Peacock Throne with the help of Amir Kabir. He tried to recover the part of eastern Persia (especially Herat) that had come into the British sphere of control but after the British attack on Bushehr (Anglo-Persian War), he had to retreat. Herat is today a part of Afghanistan. Nasser-al-Din Shah was forced to sign the Declaration of Paris granting Afghanistan supremacy over the former Persian territories.
Though Nasser al-Din had early reformist tendencies, he was dictatorial in his style of government. He persecuted Bábís and Bahá’ís, and this increased when a deranged Bábí attempted to assassinate him in 1852. He was the first modern Persian monarch to visit Europe in 1873 and then again in 1878 (when he saw a Royal Navy Fleet Review), and finally in 1889 and was reportedly amazed with the technology he saw there. During his visit to the United Kingdom in 1873, Nasser al-Din Shah was appointed by Queen Victoria a Knight of the Order of the Garter, the highest English order of chivalry. He was the first Persian monarch to be so honoured.
In 1890 he met British Gerald Talbot and signed a contract with him giving him the ownership of Iranian Tobacco Industry, but he later was forced to cancel the contract after Mirza Reza Shirazi issued a Fatwa that made farming, trading and consuming tobacco as Haram (forbidden). It even affected the Shah’s personal life as his wives did not allow him to smoke.
This was not the end of his attempts to give advantages to Europe because he later gave the ownership of Iranian Customs Incomes to Paul Julius Reuter.
Nasser al-Din introduced a number of western innovations to Persia, including a modern postal system, train transport, a banking system and newspaper publishing. He was the first Iranian to be photographed and was a patron of Photography who had himself photographed hundreds of times.
Nasser al-Din was assassinated by Mirza Reza Kermani, a follower of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, when he was visiting and praying in the shrine of Shah-Abdol-Azim. It is said that the revolver used to assassinate him was old and rusty, and had he worn a thicker overcoat, or been shot from a longer range, he would have survived the attempt on his life. Shortly before his death he is reported to have said “I will rule you differently if I survive!” Nasser al-Din Shah’s assassin was prosecuted by the defense Minster Nazm ol Doleh.
He was buried in the Shah-Abdol-Azim Cemetery, in Rayy near Tehran, where he was assassinated. His one-piece marble tombstone, bearing his full effigy, is now kept in the Golestan Palace Museum in Tehran and is renowned as a master piece of Qajar era sculpture.