As the sun sets, His Majesty remains defiant

It has been many months now since Our Man behind the drinks cabinet inside Kathmandu’s Narayanhity Royal Palace reported on the situation of Nepal’s sovereign lord, King Gyanendra. In part this appears to be because the pressures of being a royalist in republican Nepal have driven him to drink, with the unfortunate result that His Majesty’s drinks cabinet is now as empty as his official diary. However, nursing the king of all hangovers and sitting rather sheepishly inside the offices of the King’s press secretariat – itself empty for months – Our Man reports that the end is nigh for the Shah dynasty.

After opining a few months ago that the only hope for the monarchy was for the King and his son, Crown Prince Paras, to abdicate in favour of five-year-old Prince Hridayendra, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has now told the interim legislature that the monarchy is doomed and that the King would be asked to abdicate and take his entire family into exile before the constituent assembly elections, now planned for 22 November. Despite half of Nepal’s population still believing that the monarchy should be retained in at least a ceremonial capacity, the constituent assembly will almost certainly declare Nepal a republic.

Undaunted, His Majesty has decided to stick two fingers up at all his detractors and is planning a lavish 61st birthday celebration this coming weekend. Coming after rumours that the King recently had himself secretly crowned by the country’s top Hindu cleric, this latest twist in the plot of Nepal’s royal soap opera has enraged the republican establishment. No sooner had 2,000 invitations been issued in the name of Queen Komal to politicians, former royal ministers, diplomats and captains of industry for a birthday dinner tonight (Friday 6 July), than hordes of gun-toting yobs affiliated to the youth wings of various political parties within the ruling eight-party alliance announced that they would resort to any means available to thwart the birthday festivities. The royal palace has demanded extra security be laid on, and the government has apparently promised to protect the guests, although only time will tell if this promise is honoured.

The sumptuous gala dinner tonight will be followed later in the weekend by a tea hosted by the unpredictable Crown Prince Paras (is this wise?) and his charming wife Princess Himani (who almost fled the country with her son a few months ago). However, quite how many chairs will be filled at either do is uncertain after every single politician currently in the government as well as almost every ambassador declined to attend. Unfortunately, the British High Commissioner was among the first to reject the invitation, on behalf of every European Union diplomat stationed in Kathmandu. The American and Indian ambassadors have since followed suit.

After the national legislature recently voted to amend the interim constitution so as to give it the power to abolish the monarchy on a two-thirds vote, and steps were taken to prevent the King from selling any of his privately-owned property, the future really does appear bleak for His Majesty. The are, perhaps, two last hopes remaining. The first, ironically, is provided by the Maoist rebels, whose members continue to terrorise, kidnap, torture and kill anyone who stands in their way. It is rumoured that the Americans and Indians would prefer to see a powerless child-King Hridayendra on a ceremonial throne than a republic which would quickly become dominated by murderous Maoists. If the Maoists continue to resort to violence and appal public opinion, maybe there just might be a way out for the Crown – although not for King Gyanendra.

The second hope is the army, which is thought secretly to remain loyal to King Gyanendra. If anarchy breaks out after the King’s birthday bash, how will they respond?

Only time will tell if King Gyanendra, or his crown, can miraculously survive… but we’re afraid it doesn’t bode well that the royal drinks cabinet has yet to be re-filled.

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Eating like a King

http://www.monarchy.net/directory.htm is a fascinating site.  Apart from listing monarchist organisations all over the world – who would have thought that the UK branch of the Royal Lithuanian Nobility Association would be based in Crumpsall Green in North Manchester? – it lists monarchist restaurants.  Just in London and the Home Counties you could eat at Burmese, Thai, Iranian and Romanian monarchist restaurants.

If anybody has visited one of them, could we have a review?

Cricket and Portugal

sar0001.jpgAs an impoverished student in Oporto in 1976, I had two priceless letters of introduction: one to the Sandeman company, and one to the British Consul.  The former led to a series of visits to each of the major port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia; the latter led to an afternoon at the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club.  We spent no time watching tennis.

 The last reference to cricket in Portugal in Wisden dates back to the 2003 edition.  Cricket was in a parlous state in Lisbon, with one ground, which had hosted eight clubs, now seeing only four playing regularly.  “My” club, in Oporto, was far too expensive for most cricketers to join, stifling the game in the north of the country and contributing to its national decline.

 It would be nice to think that HRH Dom Duarte Pio João Miguel Gabriel Rafael, Duke of Bragança, Grand Master of the Order of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa and Grand Master of the Royal Order of St Michael, the rightful King of Portugal, might show some interest in this deplorable state of affairs.  Cricket, like monarchy, is a unifying force.  Come on, Sir!

Nepal’s King in hot water again

Loyal readers of the RCC’s website will no doubt be wondering what has been happening recently in the Kingdom of Nepal. Well, wonder no longer because our man behind the Narayanhity Royal Palace drinks cabinet has managed to convey the disappointing news that it has not been a happy couple of weeks for His Majesty King Gyanendra Shah.

It all started to go wrong for the King last week when the Nepalese government announced it would take action against 40 people, including two dozen ministers of the erstwhile Royal cabinet, for ‘misuse of power and suppressing demonstrations’ held against His Majesty’s takeover of absolute power in February 2005.

Then the news broke that 18 royalists had sustained serious injuries when vicious Maoist thugs attacked a meeting of the pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). The assailants used bricks and rods during the attack, and forced RPP leaders to chant slogans in favour of a democratic republic.

In times of trial, the King can at least be confident of a warm reception from religious groups, and so, under cover of darkness, he sneaked out of the Narayanhity Palace to visit the Pashupati Nath Temple to offer ‘puja’ on the occasion of the Hindu Mahashivaratri festival. However, as he was driven in a black bullet-proof Mercedes into the main throughway of the temple, sections of the crowd pelted stones at the vehicle. Security personnel had to use batons to disperse the crowd, and one policeman was injured. The extraordinary scenes even prompted an apology from the government, albeit half-heartedly.

Not a little miffed by this deplorable turn of events, and perhaps following the wise advice of the ever-reliable Royal astrologers, His Majesty then decided two days later to issue a message to the nation on the occasion of Democracy Day, defending his absolute rule. Oh dear.

Democracy Day marks the occasion when King Gyanendra’s grandfather re-asserted his power over the hereditary Rana prime ministers in 1950 following a popular revolt. Although technically the then King Tribhuvan had fled to India with the crown prince and his grandson and returned only after the Rana regime was overthrown, King Gyanendra in his message chose to portray his ancestor as the ‘architect of democracy in Nepal’, and continued: ‘Nepal’s glorious history is guided by the fact that monarchy has always abided by the aspirations of the Nepalese people, on whom sovereignty is vested. It is clear that the prevailing situation compelled us to take the February 1, 2005 step in accordance with the people’s aspiration to reactivate the elected bodies by maintaining law and order.’ The king blamed the inability of then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to hold elections in time.

Predictably the message has created something of a stir. The Speaker of the interim legislature has condemned the message as unconstitutional, while the main Nepali Congress party has described it as ‘objectionable and unauthorised’, warning that it ‘reveals the state of mind of the king and indicates the possibility of another conspiracy that could be hatched’. The Maoists’ reaction has been to beat up more people.

So, another great success for monarchy in Nepal. We can only hope that the forces loyal to the King will gain strength from their sovereign’s words, and that, by some miracle, the people will warm to their legitimate ruler. God save the King. Sigh…..

Startling news from Nepal

Startling news has reached us from the Kingdom of Nepal news which may just save the monarchy.

It was reported last week that His Majesty King Gyanendra Shah, who now prefers to live in the new luxurious mansion he built in Nagarjuna on the outskirts of the capital, had made a rare unannounced visit to the Narayanhity Royal Palace in central Kathmandu.

Flanked by two aides de camps, the king, looking glum, spent a long time in the grounds of the palace, watching the peacocks bred inside at play. Our man still behind the Royal drinks cabinet there says that it looked like His Majesty had a lot on his mind, and that the appearance had the feeling of a farewell visit. Despite riots in the south of the country, presumed by republicans to have been instigated by royalists hoping to delay the constituent assembly elections planned for June, the government remains adamant that the polls will proceed on time and all commentators expect the first session to vote for the abolition of the monarchy. Time appears to be running out for the 238-year-old Shah dynasty.

However, there may yet be another dramatic twist in the gripping soap opera that is the story of Nepalese monarchy as it starts to become clear what was occupying the King’s mind so much as he stared at his beloved peacocks and ruefully surveyed his once secure palace. Opinion poll data consistently suggests that ordinary Nepalese citizens are still attached to the institution of monarchy – despite the best efforts of almost every politician to pretend that a republic is inevitable – but are hostile to the person of King Gyanendra himself after his disastrous period as absolute monarch. Therefore, in a desperate bid to save the monarchy, it is reported in todays Nepalese papers that His Majesty has offered to abdicate in favour of his four-year-old grandson Prince Nava Yuvaraj Hridayendra and leave the country. Apparently his son and direct heir, Crown Prince Paras, who is even more unpopular than himself (due to his penchant for high living and, erm, dangerous driving allegedly), has agreed to renounce his claim to the throne preferring golf and partying to kingship.

With the Maoist guerrillas starting a new campaign from next week for a republic and the nationalisation of Royal family members property, the King has been holding a series of hectic consultations with royalists to find a way out. It is reported that, before the interim constitution was promulgated last month, he tried to meet Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala with his abdication plan. However, the meeting is said to have fallen through at the last moment. Then, about two weeks ago, Maoist chief Prachanda told his guerrillas in southern Nepal that the King had sent an emissary to him, suggesting a meeting and saying he was ready to abdicate. However, apparently the conditions laid down for such a meeting were not acceptable to Prachanda.

It is also rumoured that if the Kings plan were to be accepted, he would almost certainly move to London. Apparently a Royal son-in-law, who was present in the Narayanhity Palace during the infamous massacre when Crown Prince Dipendra killed his father King Birendra and almost the entire royal family (although the present Crown Prince Paras was miraculously left completely unscathed), is already living in the grounds of the Nepali Embassy in Britains capital city.

We at the RCC are sure that King Gyanendra would receive a warm welcome should he come to London (and apparently our man presently behind the Royal drinks cabinet in the Narayanhity Palace would be interested in applying to become His Majestys press & communications director in exile). However, we hope of course that this step will not be necessary and that the Nepalese people will quickly come to their senses. God save the King.

A moustache too far?

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.

A recusant postcard

I have recently come across this photo-picture of His Holiness the Pope receiving His Majesty Francis II, rightful heir of the House of Stuart and king of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.

franz.jpg

God save His Majesty over the water.