KATHMANDU, Nepal - Nepal's deposed king gave up his crown of peacock feathers, yak hair and jewels yesterday and left his palace forever.
Former King Gyanendra's departure closed the book on the world's last Hindu monarchy, but a remnant stayed behind: the 94-year-old mistress of the ousted monarch's grandfather, who died more than a half century ago.
Few Nepalis knew of the elderly woman's existence until authorities announced yesterday that she would be allowed to continue living in the palace. The reason: the youngest mistress of King Tribhuwan, who ruled the Himalayan kingdom from 1911 until his death in 1955, has no house to move to.
Little else will remain of a dynasty that united Nepal and reigned for 239 years. The palace - a pink concrete monstrosity - will be turned into a museum.
Gyanendra is to live as something akin to an ordinary citizen, albeit an incredibly wealthy one, being a businessman with interests in tourism, tea and tobacco. He will be protected by police at a onetime summer palace on a forested hill on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
"I have no intention or thoughts to leave the country," he said hours before departing, his first public comments in the months since it became apparent he was going to lose his crown.
The former king and his wife pulled out of the palace gates in an armored black Mercedes about 8:45 p.m., followed by a police and army escort. A few loyalist onlookers shouted for Gyanendra to stay on the throne, but most were happy to see him go.
"I came to see the end of a dark era," said Gopal Shakya, a shopkeeper in Kathmandu.
Nepal was declared a republic last month after elections that saw the country's former communist rebels win the most seats in a special assembly charged with rewriting the constitution.
"I have accepted the decision," Gyanendra told reporters gathered yesterday in a grand palace hall decorated with portraits of the Shah dynasty kings and stuffed tigers.
The Narayanhiti palace has been his home since he became king in 2001 after a massacre in which a gunman, allegedly the crown prince, assassinated his brother, King Birendra, and much of the royal family before killing himself.
In 2005, Gyanendra seized power from a civilian government, which made him unpopular.