In the past few weeks we have been looking at some of the monarchies in Asia in recent times, which have largely been successful in uniting the people and nation, and occasionally ushering in real reform and modernisation.
The film I am showing today though is a much darker story about the foundation of the modern kingdom of Nepal, and its disastrous end in the early 2000s, with the slaughter of nearly the whole Royal Family.
The film shows how the founder of the modern kingdom. Prithvi Narayan Shah, managed to unite the kingdom, and bring it under his sole authority. This was successfully done, but his reign was short, only seven years.
And then began a series of problems in the monarchical system, with unstable kings, and where another dynasty, the Ranas, ruled in real power while the kings (the Shah family) were simply figureheads.
In the 1950s following the return of home rule to India, Prime Minister Nehru was interested in having Nepal, on his northern border, conform more to his ideas of a parlimentary system, and the monarchy once again became powerful.
Following a long period of instability the heir to the throne succeeded in one night in killing nearly the whole Royal Family, including himself. A brother of the previous king was installed following this night of the swords, but his reign also didn’t last long.
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to see an album of stills click here