Childhood & Early Life
Gyanendra was born on July 7, 1947 in the Narayanhiti Royal Palace in Kathmandu. He was the second son of Crown Prince Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Crown Princess Indra Rajya Laxmi Devi.
He had an elder brother, Prince Birendra, two elder sisters, Princess Shanti and Princess Sharada, one younger brother, Prince Dhirendra and one younger sister, Princess Shobha.
He became the King of Nepal for the first time in November 1950 when King Tribhuvan and all of his royal family fled to India fearing a threat to their lives. He was left behind and being the only male member of the royal family in the country he was made the King of Nepal by the Prime Minister Mohan Shamsher who belonged to the Rana dynasty.
He gave up his monarchy to his grandfather King Tribhuvan in January 1951 when he returned to Nepal from exile after a deal was made between Nepal and India which opposed the rule of the Prime Ministers belonging to the Rana dynasty.
He did his initial schooling at the ‘St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling in India. He graduated from the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu in 1969.
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Gyanendra was the Chairman of the Advisory Committee which arranged the coronation ceremony of his elder brother King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev held in 1975.
He was a conservation enthusiast and held the post of Chairman in the ‘King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation’ from 1982 till 2001 when he ascended the throne. The trust became known as the ‘National Trust for Nature Conservation’.
By 1999 a civil war between the government of King Birendra and the Maoist guerillas led by Prachanda broke out.
A great controversy still surrounds the massacre of the whole royal family in Nepal on June 1, 2001. When Prince Dipendra, the eldest son of King Birendra died of the bullet wounds received during the massacre on June 4 2001, King Gyanendra was sworn in as the King of Nepal.
In May 2002 he dismissed the parliament headed by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba which had been elected in 1999.
In October 2002 he dismissed Deuba and assumed full authority of running the country himself promising that normalcy will return within the next three years.
During the next three years from 2002 to 2005 he dismissed three more Prime Ministers for not being able to hold elections as the civil war was still continuing and again became the absolute ruler of Nepal on February 1, 2005.
He tried to reinstate the ‘Constitutional Monarchy’ which had been abolished by his elder brother King Birendra but was confronted with opposition from all political parties.
During these three years he resorted to repression and restricted civil liberties such as the freedom of the press, protection against censorship and preventive detention provided by the constitution.
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Protests against this repression soon turned violent. When a curfew supported by teargas and firing claimed 23 lives, Gyanendra agreed to hand over the reins of the government to a prime minister chosen by the seven party alliance on April 21, 2006.
Girija Prasad Koirala was made the Prime Minister of the seven party alliance with the promise that King Gyanendra will have a say in the government.
After discussions with Koirala, King Gyanendra agreed to reinstate the parliament on April, 24, 2006.
The political parties did not honor this agreement made between Gyanendra and supported by the Indian government. On June 10, 2006 the parliament abolished all the powers of the king including veto powers. The Prime Minister gained the powers of the king according to the constitution.
The interim parliament was set up on January 15, 2007 and the interim government was formed on April 1, 2007.
The bill for the amendment of the 1990 constitution was passed on December 28, 2007 which transformed Nepal from a monarchy into a federal democratic republic.
All properties that King Gyanendra had except those that he had inherited before becoming king were confiscated and nationalized on August 23, 2007.