Journalists besiege palace to witness Nepal king’s ‘last exit’

May 23rd, 2008 - 12:59 am ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 22 (IANS) Reporters, photographers and TV channel crew lay siege at the gate of the Narayanhity royal palace Thursday, waiting to record embattled Nepal King Gyanendra’s “last exit” from it after reports that the royal couple were departing ahead of a critical meeting when his crown would officially be taken away from him. “From Narayanhity the king is heading towards Nagarjuna,” royal watcher tabloid Jana Aastha reported, saying the king would leave the palace to avoid any untoward incident.

“It is being given out that King Gyanendra and Queen Komal are leaving Narayanhity to stay in their summer residence Nagarjuna for five days,” said Kishore Shrestha, editor of Jana Aastha.

“However, with the newly elected constituent assembly holding its first meeting on Wednesday, when monarchy would be formally abolished, it is doubtful that the royal couple would return to the palace.”

Jana Aastha also said the Maoists were assembling their cadres in Kathmandu to surround the palace and force the king to go if he decided to ignore the assembly proclamation Wednesday.

The report also said that while the king was resigned to his fate as a commoner, the queen mother, Ratna, was adamant that she would not leave the palace quarters named after her husband, the late king Mahendra.

“But she still has time,” Shrestha said. “If the constituent assembly formally scraps monarchy, the government would have to issue a notice to the royals, asking them to quit the palace within a certain date.”

All earlier communications to the palace by the government, asking for details of the properties owned by the royals, have been ignored.

The rumour mill was set working furiously Thursday after yet another daily, the state-owned Gorkhapatra, said the royal family was employing the security personnel deployed in the palace to move out before Wednesday and avoid any confrontation.

“About 40 servants are being told to quit the palace but have been assured that they will find a suitable job later,” the official daily said.

It added that the queen mother would be shifted to Jiwan Niwas, the private residence of late Prince Dhirendra, King Gyanendra’s younger brother who was killed in the infamous palace massacre in June 2001.

The king, it added, would go to Nirmal Niwas, his own private residence where he had stayed before his surprise coronation after the assassination of king Birendra inside the Narayanhity royal palace.

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