India Insight

Amid chaos, Nepal’s king bows out gracefully

In the end, it was hard not to feel a little bit sorry for Nepal’s deposed King Gyanendra.

Reuters’ Simon Denyer (L) watches as Nepal’s deposed King Gyanendra (R) addresses the media at the Narayanhiti royal palace in Kathmandu June 11, 2008. Denyer is India bureau chief for Reuters, with responsibility also for Nepal and Bhutan.He had seemed an impossibly distant, arrogant figure in the past, but on Wednesday, addressing the press before leaving the palace, in his first and possibly final news conference, he kept his dignity and showed a previously unseen human side.

So it was a pity his swansong — and that of a once-cherished 239-year-old monarchy — was surrounded by chaos, with more than 200 journalists jostling for a view in the palace’s small main hall, constantly pushing and shoving each other.

As Gyanendra read from a prepared text in the palace’s small main hall, two stuffed tigers behind him, people shouted aggressive questions as the former king ploughed on, his amplified voice alternately booming and then dropping out altogether.

He may have spent most of his time in his gaudy pink Kathmandu palace cut off from reality, ultimately unloved and unlistened to, and some may have felt his final farewell was a fitting end.

Another Himalayan kingdom tumbles, but will Nepal miss its monarchy?

Another Himalayan kingdom is falling, a chapter closing on an ancient historical tradition. But will the modern system of democracy do a better job?

Sikkim’s monarchs, the Chogyals, retreated into history when India annexed their territory in 1975. Tibet’s “priest-king”, the Dalai Lama, was forced in exile when China invaded his land in the 1950s.

Nepal’s King Gyanendra looks at an animal sacrifice being performed at a temple in Kathmandu May 12, 2008. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar (NEPAL)Now, after 239 years of the Shah dynasty, Nepal is set to become a secular republic on Wednesday .

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