Birendra Bir Bikram Shah

Introduction to King Birendra

Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was the King of Nepal from 1972 until his assassination in 2001. Born on December 29, 1945, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Birendra was the eldest son of King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Crown Princess Indra Rajya Laxmi Devi. He was the Grandson of Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah.

He received his initial schooling at St. Joseph College in Darjeeling, India, and then joined Eton College in the United Kingdom.

Birendra became the king of Nepal in 1972 A.D. and declared Nepal a zone of peace in 1975 A.D.. He introduced policies aimed at promoting infrastructure development and agriculture. He is considered a Humble and Neutral King by the consensus of Historians.

He was assassinated in Mysterious Circumstances on June 1 2001 A.D. He died while Nepal was tackling the Maoist Movement.

Personal Life of King Birendra

King Birendra was born on December 29, 1945, in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the ‘Narayanhiti Royal Palace’. He was the eldest son of King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Crown Princess Indra Rajya Laxmi Devi.

He had two younger brothers, King Gyanendra and Prince Dhirendra, and three sisters, Princess Shanti, Princess Sharada, and Princess Shobha.

King Birendra received his initial schooling at the Jesuit school, ‘St. Joseph College in Darjeeling, India. He became the ‘Crown Prince of Nepal’ while at school when his grandfather King Tribhuvan died on March 13, 1955.

He then joined Eton College in the United Kingdom in 1959 and returned to Nepal in 1964 after completing his studies. He also studied for some time at the University of Tokyo, Japan, in 1967. He also studied politics at Harvard University from 1967 to 1968.

Birendra married Aishwarya Rajya Lakshmi Devi from the Rana family, his second cousin, on February 27, 1970. Their wedding was amongst the most Expensive Hindu Marriages in history and cost Rs. 100 Crore.

Reign of King Birendra

King Birendra became the king of Nepal on January 31, 1972, after his father King Mahendra died. At the time, absolute power was vested in him with no other form of government in place. All political parties were banned, and he ruled with the help of the panchayat system, which comprised of regional and local councils.

Despite his unlimited power, King Birendra asserted that his administration was a democracy governed by people’s representatives rather than an expensive alternative of several political parties.

King Birendra was also known for his foreign policy initiatives. He traveled to India in October 1973 and also to China two months later. He maintained the sovereignty of the country.

Nepal was proclaimed a ‘zone of peace’ and a neutral region by King Birendra in 1975 in order to pursue a non-alignment strategy that would promote growth and prosperity.

The Nepali Congress Party and other political organisations began to advocate constitutional reform in Nepal in the 1980s. Birendra declared a referendum to choose between a party-less or multi-party system.

The referendum was held in May 1980, with the party-less system winning by a margin of 55% to 45%. The result of the election led the king to make mass restructuring of the country both economically and politically.

In 1990, a series of strikes and pro-democracy riots broke out in Nepal. Birendra lifted the ban on political parties and agreed to become a constitutional monarch in April 1990.

He appointed an independent Constitution Recommendation Commission to prepare a new constitution to accommodate the demands for political reform. On November 9, 1990, he declared the government to be a constitutional monarchy with Krishna Prasad Bhattarai as its Prime Minister.

However, numerous political groups became dissatisfied with this type of administration, sparking a civil war in 1996 that lasted until 2006.

Birendra was powerless to stop the Nepalese Civil War, a struggle between Maoist insurgents and government troops that lasted from 1996 to 2006. He was assassinated on June 1, 2001, along with most of his family members, including his wife and children.

Reforms of Birendra

Infrastructural Development

King Birendra instituted a strategy of connecting rural regions with airports and constructing roads only when there was a high volume of traffic.

Because of his Policy, several airports were established, such as Baglung Airport, Dhorpatan Airport, Mahendranagar Airport, Rukum Chaurjahari Airport in 1973, and Sanphebagar Airport in 1975.

Several airports were developed in the years that followed including Simikot Airport in 1977, Dolpa Airport in 1978, and Ramechhap Airport in 1979.

Doti Airport, Talcha Airport, Taplejung Airport, Jiri Airport, Phaplu Airport, Bajhang Airport, Rolpa Airport, Manang Airport, Bajura Airport, and Darchula Airport were all built as a result of the policy.

Furthermore, with Swiss government assistance, the Lamosangu-Jiri road heading to Solukhumbu was completed in 1985.

Agricultural Development

King Birendra’s government focused highly on agriculture promotion. It resulted in almost 90% of the population being directly or indirectly involved in agriculture by 1990 A.D.

The establishment of Bhrikuti Pulp and Paper in 1985 with support from the People’s Republic of China and the Lumbini Sugar Mills at Sunwal, Nawalparasi in 1982 with technical assistance from China were some of the Developments that is happening in Nepal.

Additionally, the establishment of Gorakhali Rubber Industries led to the cultivation of rubber for the first time in Jhapa, Illam, and many other places in eastern Nepal. Corn production increased to over 1 million tons in 1991 from 500,000 tons in 1961.

Political Reforms

During the Panchayat period, King Birendra held a democratic referendum in 2037 BS, with the choice of a multi-party system or a Panchayati system.

He divided the nation into 5 development regions in order to create balanced development and visited each division once a year.

Despite previously being an autocratic ruler, King Birendra always played the role of the constitutional monarch by the book and never overstepped his boundaries. Mid-term elections, 2051, and General Election, 2056 can be attributed to his good governance.

The King regularly asked the Supreme Court for its advice on any political matters that could concern the Constitution so that he would never overstep the boundaries of the Constitution.

He created a culture where the king and prime minister would meet every Thursday at his palace to discuss matters of state.

Social Reforms

King Birendra made education development a national priority and Poor Literacy was the greatest impediment to National Advancement.

The five-year plan, which began in 1971, was primarily concerned with the construction of new educational institutions and the improvement of the present educational system’s efficiency. King Birendra proclaimed basic education free for all Nepalese residents on the auspicious occasion of his coronation.

All instructional materials began to be supplied free of charge to educational institutions in 1978.

King Birendra became the patron of the Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. He established Mahendra Sanskrit University in 1986 to preserve the language and culture in the region.

Diplomatic Contributions

King Birendra worked to maintain Nepal’s independence despite pressures from neighboring countries like India, China, and the Soviet Union. He established diplomatic relations with 46 additional countries, bringing the total number to 96.

He was also instrumental in the formation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu. King Birendra proposed Nepal be declared a zone of peace in the United Nations meeting.

He later established the “Peace Keeping Training Camp” in 1986. It was later restructured into the Birendra Peace Operations Training Centre. It helped Nepal to send trained peace-keeping forces in cooperation with the UN.

Environmental Reforms

King Birendra was regarded as a lover of nature and a great supporter of nature conservation.

Chitwan National Park, Royal Bardiya Wildlife Reserve, Langtang National Park, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Rara National Park, Sagarmatha National Park, Khaptad National Park, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, and Shey Phoksundo National Park were all established during his reign.


King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah was one of the longest Reigning active King of Modern Nepal. He was assassinated in Suspicious Circumstances in 2001 A.D.




What was the Foreign Policy of Birendra?

King Birendra traveled to India and China during his reign, maintaining the sovereignty of the country despite foreign influences. He attempted to make Nepal the Zone of Peace.

Who was King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev?

King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was the King of Nepal from 1972 until his assassination in 2001.

Where did King Birendra study?

King Birendra studied at Eton College in the United Kingdom and later at the University of Tokyo and Harvard University.

What was King Birendra’s policy to promote agriculture in Nepal?

King Birendra introduced policies to promote infrastructure development and agriculture, which resulted in almost 90% of the population being involved in agriculture by 1990.

What was the referendum held in Nepal during the 1980s?

The referendum held in Nepal during the 1980s was to decide between a party-less or a multi-party system, which was won by a margin of 55% to 45% in favor of the party-less system.

What led to the civil war in Nepal?

The disenchanted political parties with the constitutional monarchy led to a civil war in Nepal in 1996, which lasted until 2006.