Title

All the King’s Horses, All the King’s Elephants: The Fates of Royal Animals in Nepal’s Post-Monarchy Period

Publication Date

2018

Journal

Himalaya

Volume

38

Issue

1

First Page

23

Last Page

41

Abstract

In May of 2008, Nepal’s 240-year-old monarchy was legally dissolved. In the wake of this dissolution, the new interim government sought to replace royal institutions, procedures, and ceremonies with new, parallel processes. One unexpected royal legacy that politicians needed to resolve was that of the former royal animals that had been connected to the position of the King. The king of Nepal and palace institutions had been responsible for the welfare of a range of animals: private royal horses, a palace dairy herd, elephants in Chitwan, and an aviary of pheasants. Many of Nepal’s ex-royal animals have survived for years after the monarchy’s collapse, and many of them were left vulnerable, with no one clearly responsible for or dedicated to them in the new political context. The peculiar and marginalized fates of Nepal’s ex-royal animals highlight the profound institutional complexity the monarchy once entailed, and the far-reaching consequences of its dissolution. They also reveal the grudging and complex ways that parliamentary politicians and bureaucrats have handled some of the more inconvenient legacies of the institution they eliminated.

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