Nepal’s deposed king leaves palace forever
The former king will still to be protected by police.
KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s deposed king gave up his crown of peacock feathers, yak hair and jewels Wednesday and left his palace forever.
Former King Gyanendra’s departure closed the final chapter on the world’s last Hindu monarchy, but a remnant stayed behind: the 94-year-old mistress of the deposed monarch’s grandfather, who died more than a half-century ago.
Few Nepalis knew of the mysterious elderly woman’s existence until authorities announced Wednesday that she would be allowed to continue living in the palace. The reason: The youngest mistress of King Tribhuwan, who ruled the Himalayan kingdom from 1911 until his death in 1955, has no house to move to or relatives to take her in.
Little else will remain, however, of a dynasty that united Nepal and reigned for 239 years. The palace — a pink concrete monstrosity — will be turned into a museum. But there’s little likelihood it will celebrate a monarchy that Nepal’s new government of former communist rebels fought to overthrow.
Gyanendra is to live as something akin to an ordinary citizen, albeit an incredibly wealthy one, protected by police at a one-time summer palace on a forested hill on the outskirts of Katmandu.
“I have no intention or thoughts to leave the country,” Gyanendra said hours before departing.
The vast majority of Nepalis have made it clear they are pleased to see the monarchy end. While Gyanendra’s throne was formally abolished last month, his departure Wednesday carries great significance in a nation ruled by Shah dynasty monarchs for more than two centuries.
The former king and his wife pulled out of the palace gates in an armored black Mercedes at about 8:45 p.m., followed by a police and army escort. A few loyalist onlookers shouted for Gyanendra to stay on the throne, but most of the several hundred people gathered were happy to see him go.
Nepal was declared a republic last month after elections that saw the country’s former communist rebels win the most seats in a special assembly charged with rewriting the constitution.
“I have accepted the decision,” Gyanendra told reporters gathered Wednesday in a grand palace hall decorated with portraits of the Shah dynasty kings, stuffed tigers and ornate chandeliers.
The Narayanhiti palace has been Gyanendra’s home since he became king in 2001 after a massacre in which a gunman, allegedly the crown prince, assassinated his brother, King Birendra, and much of the royal family before killing himself.