On June 1st 2001 in the Narayanhity Royal Palace in Kathmandu, Crown Prince Dipendra, armed with an arsenal of automatic weapons, shot dead nine members of his own family, including his parents - King Birendra and Queen Aiswarya - and seriously wounded another five relatives, before shooting himself himself in the head. Later investigations suggest that Dipendra was enraged by his parents refusal to allow him to marry the woman of his choice.
Conspiracy Theories and Consequences
The news of the mass killing of Nepal's royalty shocked Nepalis and the whole world. While the killer (and now King) Dipendra lay in a coma, conspiracy theories began to spread suggesting that the massacre was possibly the work of other members of the royal family. Following Dipendra's death 3 days later, Gyanendra, Birendra's brother, became the king of Nepal (for the second time - having briefly been proclaimed king by the Rana regime in 1950 in an attempt to overthrow his grandfather, King Tribhuvan).
King Birendra, for all his faults, was a popular king who had ruled Nepal through many difficult times and his loss was a great blow to a nation still in the midst of an increasingly violent and bloody civil war. Gyanendra was to prove a deeply unpopular monarch and his first few steps as king of Nepal were to drag Nepal deeper into crisis.