His Majesty King Gyanendra Shah of Nepal, who faces the chop after constituent assembly elections planned for June, has made his first public appearance since the promulgation of the interim constitution last week which suspended the monarchy and stripped him of his position as titular head of state.
Appearing on Tuesday in Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, Kathmandu, the King participated in a public religious festival to mark the traditional first day of Spring which involved paying respects to the Hindu goddess of learning and chanting verses from Hindu scriptures. Although he appeared without the fanfare of royal motorcades, he was garlanded and presented with a salute by the (previously royal) Nepal Army.
Our man behind the Royal drinks cabinet inside the Narayanhity Palace reports that, without any constitutional or ceremonial roles left to fulfil, and online gambling beginning to take its toll on the Royal purse, His Majesty is keen to maintain his religious duties – particularly since devout Hindus are among his last vocal supporters. Perhaps somewhat bizarrely, it is reported that when Hindus celebrate the Shiva Ratri festival next month, royalists will organise a march of Indian Naga Sadhus (ascetics) who wear only a loin cloth throughout the year. The holy men will parade on the roads of the capital, demanding the restoration of Nepal as a Hindu kingdom. A frightening prospect indeed!
However, in yet another worrying development, Tuesday’s crowds in the capital were taken aback by His Majesty’s new appearance. No longer having to look his best for visiting heads of state, foreign ambassadors or, indeed, anyone at all, it now appears that their sovereign monarch sports a rather un-regal moustache! The end is surely nigh.