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Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK
Queen's shock at Nepal slayings
Prince Charles with King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya in Nepal
Charles met King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya in 1998
The Queen, Prince Charles and Tony Blair have expressed "shock, sadness and sympathy" after the Nepalese royal family was killed by the Crown Prince of Nepal.

King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya were shot dead along with nine other family members on Friday night, apparently by the heir to the throne.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: "The Queen has sent a message on behalf of the whole family to Prince Gyanendra as Prince Regent.

Princess Diana visits Nepal
Princess Diana had a "big impact" during her 1993 Nepal visit
"The message speaks of the shock and sadness at the news and of the long-standing and valued relationship between the two countries and families."

The Queen has instructed that flags fly at half mast at Royal palaces, main government buildings and military sites across the UK, including the Tower of London and Dover Castle.

Crown Prince Dipendra, 29, is gravely ill in hospital in Kathmandu after also turning the gun on himself.

The Prince of Wales has said he is "deeply shocked and saddened" by the massacre.

Nepal visit

A spokeswoman said Charles and Dipendra "knew each other quite well", from meeting on several state occasions.

Charles last met Dipendra three years ago, when he visited Nepal in 1998 as the prince's guest.

At an official banquet then, Dipendra had told of Nepal's sorrow at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Nepal, constitutional monarchy for 10 years
She had made a huge impression during a visit to the Himalayan kingdom in 1993 and was praised by adoring Nepalis as a "model mother".

At the banquet Dipendra also spoke of his education at English public school Eton, which he said had given him a sense of "fair play and discipline".

Prime Minister Tony Blair also called the deaths a "dreadful tragedy".

Mr Blair said Britain had strong ties with Nepal, strengthened by the thousands of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers in the British Army.

Gurkha mourning

"Through the Gurkhas we have a particular respect and affinity for the people of Nepal and I think it is only right to express our deep sympathy and condolences to them," he said.

Flags were flying at half mast on Saturday at the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles army barracks in Kent, where more than 1,000 Gurkhas are based.

A special parade is due to be held on Monday as a mark of respect.

British Ambassador to Nepal Ronal Nash
Ambassador Ronald Nash: "Horrible tragedy"
King Birendra gave up authoritarian rule and became a constitutional monarch about 10 years ago, but the royal family is still revered in Nepal.

About 90% of the population is Hindu and some people believe the king is the reincarnation of the god Vishnu.

The British ambassador to Nepal said the Nepalis were very shocked by events, with some wandering about "dazed and bewildered".

'Peaceful' mood

Ronald Nash said it was too early to tell how the "horrible tragedy" would affect Britons living in the country.

"We've recommended that they stay indoors on Saturday until we can find out more about the implications of this change," he said.

"But the mood on the street is very peaceful."

He said there were not many tourists in the country as monsoon season was on the way, but anyone heading to Nepal should check the Foreign Office website for updated travel advice.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"Prince Charles is said to be deeply shocked and saddened"
The BBC's Jon Brain at the Gurkhas' barracks in Kent
"Many of the Gurkha soldiers were in tears"
British Ambassador to Nepal Ronald Nash
"People are just bewildered and dazed"

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See also:

02 Jun 01 | South Asia
02 Jun 01 | South Asia
24 May 01 | Country profiles
24 May 01 | South Asia
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