Nepal’s last king gives government crown, keeps throne (Lead)

June 16th, 2008 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 16 (IANS) Nepal’s last king Gyanendra gave away his crown, sceptre and other heirlooms to the government before exiting the Narayanhity Palace here. However, the dynasty’s spectacular snake throne, cleverly crafted to nurture the image that the monarch was a divine incarnation, is still in his possession. A cluster of snakes forms a canopy over the throne to heighten the impression that the kings were incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu who, according to myth, was sheltered during his sleep by the world’s largest snake. This and at least least two other gold thrones are yet to come under the formal custody of the government, the state-run Gorkhapatra daily reported Monday.

The thrones still lie in the old palace in Basantapur, from where the Shah kings shifted to the Narayanhity in the 19th century.

Gyanendra was the last king to sit on the majestic throne in June 2001, when he became the king following the stunning murder of his elder brother Birendra in the army-guarded royal palace. The ceremony took place at the old square near the Basantapur Palace.

Though the Basantapur Palace is now an archaeological site, parts of which have been opened to the public, a treasure trove of royal memorabilia, including priceless jewellery, wildlife artefacts and the thrones are said to be kept locked up in a room.

The daily said that according to employees at the old palace, a former palace official has been keeping the key to the locked room with him even though he retired some time ago. There was no immediate official reaction to the report.

On May 28, after Nepal’s newly elected lawmakers proclaimed the Hindu kingdom a secular, federal republic, the government formed a high-level committee to take inventory of the valuables in the Narayanhity Palace.

However, priceless objects are still said to be gathering dust at the Basantapur Palace.

While Narayanhity was formally unveiled as a national museum by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala Sunday, it has not yet been announced officially what the government proposes to do with the six other palaces that were nationalised after the fall of the royal government in 2006.

One of them, the Nagarjuna summer palace on the outskirts of Kathmandu, is currently occupied by the deposed king and his wife Komal. They were allowed to move into it May 11 after the former king requested the government to help find him suitable accommodation.

However, the Maoists have warned the former royals that the loan is for a limited period only. They will have to find a new mansion fast and vacate the summer palace as well.

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