Languages
Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 13:51 UK

Nepal ex-king set to quit palace

The palace of former King Gyanendra
The former main royal palace will become a museum

Nepal's deposed king will leave his palace on Wednesday, a day before a deadline set by the Maoist-led constituent assembly, officials say.

Gyanendra will move to his summer residence, Nagarjun, in the north-western suburbs of Kathmandu.

Last month the assembly voted to abolish the monarchy. Much of his property has now been nationalised.

It is expected that his crown and royal sceptre and the former queen's tiara will become government property.

Nationalised

"The [former] king will leave the palace on Wednesday and before leaving he will hold a press conference," Phanindra Raj Pathak, the chief of the palace press secretariat told the AFP news agency.

The Maoists, who urged the king to bow out gracefully or be put on trial, welcomed the news.

Former King Gyanendra
The former king is deeply unpopular with most Nepalis

"It's a very positive step that the king has peacefully accepted the decision to vacate the palace. We are thankful to him," said Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara.

"It has started a new era for peaceful political transition, and we honour his decision to live as a common citizen."

Newspapers have reported that the former monarch's stepmother and grandmother will be allowed to remain in the grounds of the deposed king's former central Kathmandu palace.

They will be fenced off from the rest of the precinct which is due to become a museum.

Gyanendra is also reported to be reluctant to allow a committee to audit his saleable assets.

Correspondents say that the former king has made clear that he will leave behind most of the furniture in the palace, along with gifts he received in his capacity as the country's head of state.

Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said that when Gyanendra leaves the palace on Wednesday, details of which possessions he keeps and which ones he leaves behind will be publicised.

Mr Sitaula said he believed that the crown with its many precious stones and the sceptre would be handed over to the government, contradicting some speculation that the former royals were plotting to hide them.

On Monday, Mr Sitaula and the information minister inspected Gyanendra's new home.

Photos of their visit drew some criticism from people upset over the number of animal trophies and other wildlife artefacts on display. They argue that such items should be confiscated.

Retreat

Meanwhile, the former king has also been reported by newspapers as saying that he wants to clarify his role during emergency rule which he ordered in February 2005.

Weeks of demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people secured the end of direct palace rule in April 2006.

Correspondents say that the residence at Nagarjun will barely be a comedown for the former king.

Away from the traffic noise of the main royal palace, it is situated in one of the huge forests which line the Kathmandu valley.

Gyanendra and ex-Queen Komal have often used it as a retreat.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says that it is a large, comfortable but ordinary looking house, not a place warranting the description as a "palace".



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific