Nepal: June 1, 2001


A drunken crown prince, angered over a dispute with his mother concerning who the crown prince wanted to marry, took several automatic weapons and killed nine members of the royal family. These included  king Birendra, the queen and the crown prince's younger brother and sister. The crown prince then tried to kill himself, but seriously wounded himself. He is in a coma. The king was quite popular, mainly because, after 18 years as an absolute sovereign, he allowed the setting up of a constitutional monarchy in 1990. As a result, public anger over poor government and economy were directed at inept politicians, not inept aristocrats. The Shah family, which the king led, is the last of the many Hindu noble clans that ruled most of south Asia. The Shah's battled other family's and tribesmen in the 18th century to become the top dogs in Nepal. A poor region in the foothills of the Himalayas , no one saw Nepal as worth the trouble to conquer, or fight over. The king was seen as the reincarnation of the God Vishnu and responsible for keeping foreign armies out. But communists and other social reformers have sought to eliminate the monarchy. While king Birendra was generally loved and respected, his successors are less likely to be. 


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