Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 18:57 UK

Nepal's ousted king quits palace


Gyanendra leaves the palace

The deposed king of Nepal, Gyanendra, has moved out of the palace in the capital Kathmandu where his family lived for more than a century.

Mr Shah, as he is now known, and his wife Komal swept out of the compound in the back of a black Mercedes as scores of riot police guarded the main gate.

Earlier, he said he had returned his crown but would not go into exile and would work for the republic's benefit.

Last month, Nepal's Maoist-led assembly voted to abolish the monarchy.

The palace in the centre of Kathmandu is to become a museum.

Gyanendra and his wife are moving to a new, temporary residence outside the city.

'The people's verdict'

A police and army escort followed the ex-monarch's car as he left for Nagarjun, in the north-western suburbs of Kathmandu.

Former king Gyanendra of Nepal leaves the palace in Kathmandu with his wife Komal
November 1991: King Birendra becomes constitutional monarch and reintroduces multiparty democracy
June 2001: Crown Prince Dipendra shoots nine members of the royal family before killing himself. Gyanendra succeeds to the throne
February 2005: Gyanendra sacks government and assumes full executive powers
April 2006: Mass protests force reinstatement of parliament and king is stripped of most powers
April 2008: Maoists win most seats in elections to constituent assembly
May 2008: Nepal declared a republic, ending 240 years of monarchy
June 2008: Gyanendra leaves his palace in Kathmandu, home of his family for more than a century

The couple will live in a large, comfortable but ordinary-looking house there.

A few loyalist onlookers called for Gyanendra to stay on as his car left but many in the crowd near the palace seemed happy to see him go, correspondents say.

"This marks the beginning of a new Nepal and the end of a dynasty that has done nothing but harm this country," Devendra Maharjan, a farmer who had come to Kathmandu to see the king leave the palace, told The Associated Press.

"If it had not been for the kings, Nepal would probably not have remained a poor nation."

Giving an unprecedented news conference at the palace earlier, the former monarch said he had given his priceless crown to the Nepalese government for its protection.

"I have no intention or thoughts to leave the country," Gyanendra said.

"I have assisted in and respected the verdict of the people."

He strongly rebuffed the suspicions of many Nepalis that he had engineered the palace massacre of 2001 which brought him to the throne.

He pointed out that his wife had had several bullets lodged in her body in the attack, in which Crown Prince Dipendra shot dead King Birendra and eight other members of the royal family before killing himself.

Gyanendra said he had taken over power in 2005 hoping it would bring harmony and peace, but he admitted things had not worked out as he had planned.

His stepmother and his grandfather's mistress will live on in their homes within the compound of the palace in central Kathmandu, in a fenced-off area.

Bitter ending

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says that the former monarch's departure is a major symbolic moment in the fall of the Shah dynasty, which unified Nepal in the 1760s.

A supporter of the monarchy tries to block Gyanendra's car
A supporter of the monarchy tried to stop Gyanendra's car leaving

The Maoists, who urged Gyanendra to bow out gracefully or be put on trial, welcomed the news that he was going quietly.

But the ending of the monarchy has generally been a bitter affair, our correspondent says.

It was engendered by the 2001 massacre and Gyanendra's attempts to be politically active in quelling the Maoist insurgency, he adds.

The deposed king is reported to be reluctant to allow a committee to audit his saleable assets.

He 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 details of which possessions he keeps and which ones he leaves behind would be publicised after his departure from the palace.

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The Hindu Maoists' Govt to probe palace massacre in Nepal: Bhattarai - 52 mins ago
Miami HeraldNepal king's exit ends monarchy - 1 hr ago
Irish News Nepal's deposed king leaves palace for the last time - 3 hrs ago
Straits TimesNepal's former king adjusts to life as commoner - 4 hrs ago
Washington PostHappiness, caution in Nepal as ousted king quits - 5 hrs ago
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