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The BBC's Jill McGivering in Katmandu
"Nepal is still in shock"
 real 56k

Editor of the Nepali Times, Kunda Dixit
"The country just woke in total shock"
 real 28k

Author on Nepali affairs Jonathan Gregson
says the privy council has declared the crown prince unfit to rule
 real 56k

Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Nepal mourns slain king
Tens of thousands of mourners lined the streets
Mourners lined the streets for the funeral
Tens of thousands of Nepalis have given an emotional farewell to King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, hours after they and nine other royals were shot dead by the crown prince.

The bodies of the royal couple and of several others were cremated amid scenes of near hysterical grief at a sacred Hindu site outside the capital, Kathmandu.

We have been orphaned by this loss

Kathmandu resident
Reports suggest the massacre followed a dispute centred on the assassin's choice of bride, but as yet there has been no official confirmation.

Under the constitution, the privy council has named Crown Prince Dipendra king, but he remains in a coma in hospital after turning the gun on himself. King Birendra's brother - Prince Gyanedra - has been appointed regent.

king birendra
King Birendra - viewed as a god by some
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has appealed for calm.

The cremation ceremony at the temple complex of Pashupatinath was awash with light from television cameras and the blazing funeral pyres of the royal family.

Hindu custom calls for cremations to take place as quickly as possible.

There were angry scenes during the funeral procession, especially when ministers from Nepal's elected government passed by grief-stricken crowds on the roadside.

"Shocking is an understatement, we have been orphaned by this loss," said a vegetable seller, Janardan Sharma, who like many in the capital had rushed to the royal palace early on Saturday to try to find out more news of the tragedy.

Many mourners shaved their heads and were going without salt in a traditional sign of Hindu mourning.

Police are out in force in the capital, but no major security problems have been reported.

The killings are the worst violence in the centuries-old history of the Himalayan kingdom's royal family.

Succession problems

Prince Dipendra, 29, shot his father, mother and most of his family at a banquet on Friday evening.

After first reports that the heir to the throne was also dead, medical sources said he was still alive, gravely ill and on life support.

Crown Prince Dipendra
Crown Prince Dipendra: May have been unhappy about choice of bride
The BBC's Daniel Lak, in Kathmandu, says this means that, whatever the circumstances, the constitution and royal tradition make Prince Dipendra first in line for the throne as the eldest son of a deceased king.

Prince Gyanendra is the senior of the late King Birendra's two younger brothers. He was away from Kathmandu at the time of the massacre.

Our correspondent says privy councillors and political leaders are thought to be anxious to name Prince Gyanendra as monarch and to try to resolve the crisis.

Monarchy has long been considered as the symbol of unity in the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Himalayan kingdom.

National tragedy

Earlier on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Paudel called the massacre "a national tragedy", and confirmed that the crown prince was to blame.

Army hospital, Kathmandu
There was a heightened state of security, but no major reported problems
The king and queen's other two children - Prince Nirajan and Princess Shruti - are among the dead.

The murders are thought to be the worst mass killing of royalty since the Romanovs were put to death by order of Lenin in 1918 during the Russian civil war.

King Birendra, 55, ruled Nepal as an absolute monarch after ascending the throne in 1972, without political parties under a system of local panchayats or councils.

But nationwide unrest forced him to legalise political parties in 1990 and accept a parliamentary system.

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02 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal royal assassin named king
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