King Birendra’s Biography

King Birendra’s Biography

King of Nepal from 1972 until his death on June 1, 2001

Born on December 28, 1945 to King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Indra Rajya Lakshmi Devi Shah, Birendra’s early education was done at St Joseph’s School in Darjeeling, followed by years at Eton College in Britain, the University of Tokyo in Japan and Harvard University of the United States.
 
He married Queen Aishwarya in February 1970.
 
Birendra, who played an active role in the establishment of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation, ascended the throne on January 31, 1972, following the death of his father and ruled Nepal for three decades, firstas absolute monarch and from 1990 as constitutional monarch.
 
His first state visit after accession was to India in October 1973 and China two months later, reflecting his desire and willingness to give a new impetus to strengthen close and cordial ties with the two immediate and next-door neighbours.
 
Throughout the 1970s, the king sought to expedite economic development programmes while maintaining a “non-party” political system established by his father. The results were disappointing on both accounts, and by 1979, a systemic crisis was evident.
 
To meet the first serious political challenge to the monarchy since 1960, he announced in May 1979 a national referendum to decide between a non-party and multi-party political system.
 
However, in the referendum held in May 1980, political groups supporting the non-party system won by a relatively small margin of 55 per cent.
 
King Birendra decided to retain the 1962 constitution, but to liberalise the political system by providing for direct popular election of the National Assembly.
 
Though elections were held on a “partyless” basis, many candidates began openly representing political parties.
 
In April 1990, King Birendra lifted the ban on political parties, abrogated the more repressive security ordinances and on April 16 appointed an interim government, paving the way for major political reforms which made Nepal a constitutional monarchy and a multi-party parliamentary system.
 
The royal couple had three children — Crown Prince Dipendra on June 27, 1971; Princess Shruti on October 15, 1976 and Prince Nirajan on November 6, 1978.
 
Queen Aishwarya was born on November 7, 1949, in Kathmandu, the eldest daughter of a lieutenant general in the Nepalese armed forces.
 
She was educated in India and Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.
 
Her greatest contributions to Nepalese society revolved around increasing opportunity for women in the Himalayan kingdom.
 
Queen Aishwarya Rajya Laxmi Devi was a champion of the cause of women and children of Nepal.
 
Awarded the Save The Children Distinguished Service Award by the Save the Children Federation of the United States of America in December 1983, the queen also played a significant role in the advancement of Nepalese women.
 
The Queen was also honoured with a Medal of Distinction, one of the most outstanding Lioness medals, by Lions International USA on November 23, 1985.
 
She had her early education at St Helen’s Convent, Kurseong and St Mary’s School in Kathmandu.
 
She did her higher studies in Intermediate of Arts from the Padma Kanya College and later took a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu.
 
Aishwarya married King Birendra in February 1970.

Page created by Sharani Robins