Ousted crown prince Paras leaves Nepal

July 1st, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 1 (IANS) Thirty-three days after his father Gyanendra was stripped of his once revered position as the king of Nepal - and he himself lost the right to succeed to the 239-year-old throne, Nepal’s controversial former crown prince Paras Tuesday left the country for Singapore, triggering speculation about his return. The 37-year-old was accompanied by two body guards and his brother-in-law Raj Bahadur Singh.

This is his first exit from Nepal since being confined to the country for nearly two years following the fall of his father’s absolute reign in April 2006.

Unable to attend the birthday celebration of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok due to the restrictions on foreign travel imposed on him and his family by the new government, the former crown prince enjoyed the first advantage of becoming a commoner as his flight to Singapore abroad Silk Air was not opposed by anyone.

Reports said Paras’ wife, the former crown princess Himani, would join him within a week with their three small children.

As the former royals remained silent on the departure, there was speculation that Paras could be looking for fresh pastures, unwilling to remain in a land that had inflicted such severe punishment on him and his family.

A local daily, however, reported Tuesday that the former prince was not fleeing his country. He was merely going to Singapore to find a good school for his children, the Himalayan Times daily said.

Eight-year-old Purnika, her six-year-old brother Hridayendra, who had once been the second in line to the throne, and their younger sister Krittikka had stopped going to school since May 28, when Nepal’s newly elected lawmakers formally proclaimed the country a republic and abolished the throne enjoyed by the Shah dynasty of hereditary kings.

Besides being concerned about the children’s safety following growing anti-monarch sentiments in Nepal, their parents were also concerned about the effect their changed status would have on them.

To shelter them from the ugly fallouts, their parents deemed it best to send them abroad to be educated there.

If the children are put in school in Singapore, it would end the tradition of Nepal’s royal family sending their children to schools in India.

The former crown prince made a low-key departure from his residence Nirmal Niwas to the airport. He was not seen off there by his parents, who have been leading an equally low-key life in a hunting lodge on the outskirts of the capital since Gyanendra’s final exit from the Narayanhity royal palace.

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