| King Gyanendra (extreme left) accompanies his daughter, Princess Prerna, after the wedding ceremony at Narayanhiti royal palace in Kathmandu. (Reuters)
Kathmandu, Jan. 23 (Reuters): Thousands of people lined the streets of the Nepali capital today to cheer King Gyanendra’s newly-wed daughter and her husband as they rode through the city in a horse-drawn carriage decked with flowers.
Pipers played traditional Nepali music as the black carriage carrying Princess Prerna, 24, and her husband, Raj Bahadur Singh, was pulled by four white horses through city streets a day after they were wed at the Narayanhiti Palace.
The marriage of King Gyanendra’s only daughter to a commoner was the biggest social event in the Himalayan kingdom in years, giving the monarchy and the nation a brief chance to forget a palace bloodbath 19 months ago in which 10 royals died.
Singh, a 29-year-old University of California computer graduate, waved cheerfully while his bride sat next to him through the seven-km ride from the pagoda-roofed palace to his mansion in an upmarket neighbourhood.
Earlier, King Gyanendra, dressed in a blue military tunic, walked alongside as the princess was carried from the palace to the carriage in a palanquin studded with yellow stars.
The king then bade farewell to his daughter, dressed in a bright red sari weaved with gold thread, and to the groom, who wore traditional tight trousers and a knee-length shirt.
“I’m very happy about the wedding. They are a wonderful couple. I wish them happiness,” said Arjun Khadka, a 62-year-old businessman, as the newly-weds rode by.
Yesterday’s late-night wedding, held on the palace lawns, was a private affair attended by relatives and royal guests.
The monarch is revered by Nepalis as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and no commoners aside from servants are usually allowed inside the royal compound.
The marriage between the princess, who holds a business diploma, and Singh was arranged by their parents. Nepali royals often wed the children of India’s former princely families but they also marry wealthy locals.
“The marriage is a piece of good news for us all to cheer,” said Bishnu Aryal, a student in Kathmandu as he tried to get a glimpse of the newly-weds.
The celebration also gave Nepal a brief respite from an increasingly deadly Maoist revolt that has claimed more than 7,200 lives in about seven years.
Gyanendra came to the throne after his brother King Birendra and eight other royals were shot dead by then Crown Prince Dipendra at a family dinner in June 2001.