Dhirendra Shah (1950-2001) was said to be the wayward one of King Mahdenda's three sons. Even as a teenager he had a reputation for carousing and in 1989 was stripped of his royal title and privileges. He had been living in London as a commoner and had returned to Nepal two days before the shooting at Narayanhiti on 1 June.It was rumoured that he was about to have his royal title restored.
A friend of Dhirendra Shah in school, Neer Shah, remembers a "fantastic person" who was rather like his elder brother, King Birendra, in demeanour. Friends describe the former prince as a fun-loving and generous person, given to spontaneous acts of kindness. Dhirendra lost his royal title and privileges because he married a foreigner after separating from his first wife, Princess Prekshya, sister of the late Queen Aishwarya. He is survived by four daughters, Puja, Dilashma, and Sitashma from his first marriage, and another daughter from his second wife Shirley Greaney.
Like his elder brothers, the late King Birendra and King Gyanendra, Dhirendra also went to St Joseph's College in Darjeeling. He went on to receive his MA from Tribhuvan University. While at school, he was very interested in the theatre. "He was a very good actor-I remember him as Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar," says Neer Shah. A keen sportsman, Dhirendra had a black belt in karate and was patron of the National Sports Council. In 1975, he was Chief Scout of Nepal, and in 1987, chairman of the National Youth Fund.
During the Panchayat era, Dhirendra was said to have helped his brother King Birendra in overseeing national affairs. Dhirendra is remembered as a staunch nationalist, which has to be understood in the context of how nationalism was defined and expressed in Nepal during the Panchayat years. The former prince was in the news as recently as last July, when at a function he attended organised by Parivartan Nepal to celebrate the birthday of Crown Prince Dipendra, one of the speakers said he would not hesitate to shoot the prime minister. For two days, legislators charged Dhirendra with trying to topple multiparty democracy. In an interview that followed in a local weekly, he clarified: "My commitment is toward my nation, Nepali people, constitutional monarchy, and democracy." He was member of the Rajya Sabha from 1977 to 1988.
Dhirendra has lived mostly in London after 1989, but friends and relatives say he had returned to Nepal settle down permanently.