But since His Majesty King Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev is physically not able to take care of the affairs of state and since both Queen Aishwarya and Prince Nirajan have also died, the Raj Parishad has decided that Prince Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev shall be appointed regent."
- The chairman of Nepal's Raj Parishad, Keshar Jung Rayamajhi
With the announcement by the Raj Parishad, the monarch's powers have effectively been transferred to Gyanendra, King Birendra's younger brother. Interestingly, the infant Gyanendra was monarch for about two months in 1950-51, when his father then crown prince Mahendra, grandfather King Tribhuvan and other members of the royal family including then prince Birendra, had fled to India to escape political turmoil at home.
Gyanendra had stepped down from the throne to make way for his father who returned from exile in 1951.
Prince Gyanendra, 54 (born 1947) has had a chequered career, setting up a popular trekking route and leading conservation efforts on one hand, while embarrassing the royal family with unpaid utility bills and a controversial son on the other hand.
In January, the Nepal Samacharpatra newspaper had reported that Gyanendra owed more than Rs 10 million to the state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority. Last August, hundreds took to the streets after his son Paras Shah knocked down wellknown singer Praveen Gurung, apparently the younger prince's third victim in four years.
The Constitution and laws governing Nepal's royal family forbid prosecution of a member of the royal family without the king's consent. Though these provisions allowed the reckless Paras to escape prosecution, yet his misdeeds are said to have aroused strong anti-monarchy feelings among many.