More ex-royals fly the Nepal coop

July 17th, 2008 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 17 (IANS) Less than two months after Nepal’s last king Gyanendra was shorn of his crown and asked to leave the royal palace, his humiliated family has begun an exodus from the former Hindu kingdom, with his grandchildren and their mother also departing for Singapore Thursday. Former crown princess Himani, the least controversial and most loved member of a family that became a hated symbol of feudalism and exploitation, will be herding her three young children Purnika, Hridayendra and Krittika, out of the new republic in the hope of sheltering them from the growing public bitterness against the Shah dynasty.

It will be exactly 16 days since Himani’s husband, former crown prince and the deposed king’s heir Paras shook the dust of Nepal off his feet and headed for Singapore.

The controversial former prince, whose appointment as the heir to Nepal’s throne after his father was never accepted by the people, flew to Singapore earlier ostensibly to find a good school for his three children.

The three had stopped going to their school in Kathmandu, Rupy’s International School, since May 28, when Nepal’s newly elected constituent assembly formally proclaimed the Himalayan kingdom a republic and stripped all the royals of their titles.

Besides being worried about their safety, the children’s mother was also said to be concerned about the impact the sudden change in status would have on them.

Hridayendra was the second in line to the throne and was used to being treated with deference despite being only six years old.

While Himani is likely to stay on in Singapore with the children, it remains to be seen if Paras will come back to Nepal.

His critics have been saying that the pampered prince would find it difficult to live under Singapore’s strict laws, coming from a land where the royals were once considered to be divine and above law.

Gyanendra and the former queen Komal, who have been leading an incredibly low-profile life in a hunting lodge on the outskirts of the Kathmandu valley, Wednesday returned to the old residence in the capital where he had lived in the past as a prince, before ascending the throne due to an unforeseen tragedy that wiped out the lawful king and his entire family.

The former king and queen attended a farewell dinner at their old residence Nirmal Niwas Wednesday, reported the Naya Patrika daily, which had earlier broken the news of Paras’ departure from Nepal.

It would be a wrench for the former king and queen to part with their grandson. During earlier public ceremonies, the king had been seen holding the little boy by the hand. Or his grandmother held him in her lap.

In preparation for their exit from Nepal, Paras recently surrendered the red passports he and his family had held earlier, indicating privileged status, and in their place, received ordinary passports without any privileges.

More members of the former royal family are expected to leave in the coming days.

The former king’s son-in-law Raj Bahadur Singh, a commoner who became infamous for questionable business deals struck during his father-in-law’s absolute reign, accompanied Paras.

It is believed that he is also planning to ask his wife Prerana and their son to join him.

The dethroned king, however, has indicated that he would not leave Nepal, come what may.

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