Coronation of King Gyanendra of Nepal, 2001

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The Coronation of King Gyanendra of Nepal in the Courtyard of the Palace of Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu, in Kathmandu on this day 20 years ago, beginning a reign overshadowed by the gruesome Massacre of the Royal Family that ended with the Abolition of the Monarchy in 2008. A more formal Coronation, like the one held for King Birendra, was planned for a more auspicious date but that never came.

A few days earlier, the Royal Family had gathered for one of their annual dinner parties, when the Crown Prince, in a fit of drunken rage about the family’s refusal to allow him to marry a girl of his choice, shot fourteen members of the family, of which nine were killed, before the Crown Prince shot himself, though he was King for a few days before he passed away in hospital on June 4th. Prince Gyanendra, whose wife was also shot but survived, was out of the country and as King, vowed to investigate the massacre but led a shoddy investigation. However, there is a wide controversy regarding the Massacre, with many Nepalese people refusing to believe that the popular Crown Prince was responsible, instead citing Maoist agents, as well as Indian, Chinese, and US intelligence agencies behind the attack, and it was Maoist agents who led to the abolition of the Monarchy in 2008.

However, the Coronation in 2001 was not the first time King Gyanendra was crowned King of Nepal. In November 1950, during a political plot, his grandfather, King Tribhuvan, along with the rest of the Royal Family, fled to India, leaving the 3-year old Prince Gyanendra as the only male member of the Royal Family in Nepal, and he was declared King by the Rana Prime Minister. King Gyanendra reigned until  January 1951, when his grandfather King Tribhuvan returned to Nepal and resumed the throne.

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