Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dethroned king refuses to hand over crown

KATHMANDU - It took more than two centuries for his ancestors to build up the royal firm, but King Gyanendra of Nepal has just about wrecked the business in seven disastrous years.

He came to the throne in 2001 after his brother, King Birendra, and most of his family were massacred by Crown Prince Dipendra, who got high on drugs and alcohol and went on a shooting spree around the palace. It was the shocking resolution to a dinner party feud over whether the Prince could marry an Indian girl.

In the years since, the accidental King Gyanendra has turned an otherwise popular institution into political poison. Nepal's largest political party has abandoned its traditional support for the monarchy. That followed a decision by former Maoist rebels to quit the interim government to push for immediate abolition.

And now the outgoing King of Nepal is refusing to hand over the royal crown and sceptre. The Kyodo news agency says officials preparing an inventory of historically important documents and items in the royal palace have been unable to collect the regalia. A government committee preparing an inventory of historically important documents and items present in the royal palace could not complete its task by its deadline of Sunday as dethroned King Gyanendra refused to part with the royal crown and scepter, an official said Monday.

King Gyanendra is reported to have told officials he believes the crown and sceptre are his personal property and he wants to keep them. A committee member said that palace staff have conveyed Gyanendra’s message to the committee that he wishes to keep the crown and scepter. "The former king’s interpretation, it appears, is that the crown and scepter are his private property, but the government believes they are the nation’s property," the official said. Nepal's royal crown is composed of precious diamonds, pearls and emeralds.

Nepal's 240-year monarchy was abolished by a special assembly in late May and King Gyanendra has until Thursday (12th May) to leave the palace.

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