Kathmandu, Jan. 22: Princess Prerna, the only daughter of Nepal’s King Gyanendra, married a commoner late tonight in the biggest social event at the palace in years.
The ceremony at the tightly guarded Narayanhity palace was a “strictly private family affair” attended only by relatives and royal guests.
The bride wore a gold embroidered red saree and matching veil and the groom — Raj Bahadur Singh — was attired in the traditional Nepali dress of tight trousers and knee-length tunic.
Thousands lined Kathmandu’s streets to cheer the smiling and waving 29-year-old groom as he rode in a black carriage drawn by two white horses along a seven-km route to the red-and-blue palace.
The groom was greeted at the palace by King Gyanendra who wreathed him with marigold garlands. Priests chanted hymns and offered prayers to Ganesh, revered for removing obstacles, and other gods.
The newly-weds will drive in a horse-drawn carriage to the groom’s house tomorrow afternoon in a similar procession.
The nuptials gave the monarchy and the kingdom a brief chance to forget the palace massacre 19 months ago in which 10 royals died, as well as an increasingly deadly Maoist revolt gripping the nation.
Newspapers splashed pictures of the 24-year-old princess and her groom on their front pages and a plethora of advertisements wishing the couple success. The couple had got formally engaged on January 17, after which Singh was given the title “Kumar” as the princess’ consort. The marriage was arranged by the parents.
Singh has a degree in computing and business studies from Roehampton University in the United Kingdom and another in computer sciences from the University of California.
The sprawling grounds of the pagoda-style palace, which was freshly painted, were illuminated by powerful spotlights for the night-time wedding and tents were pitched on the lawn for the hundreds of guests.
The last royal wedding was five years ago when Princess Shruti wed a banker, Gorakh Shamsher Rana. She died in the royal massacre of June 2001 along with her parents, King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya.
Both Singh and Rana are commoners in the strict sense of the term. But Singh is a Thakuri — the same clan as the royal family — and Gorakh Shamsher belongs to the Rana family that is closely linked by marriage to the monarchy. The queen is from the Rana family.