KATMANDU, Nepal – The late King Dipendra knew all about privilege. He was revered as a god by many adoring Nepalese, studied at an elite British school and often raced around the streets of Katmandu in a Toyota Land Cruiser.
On Monday, the chubby, bearded monarch died at age 29, suspected of slaying most of the Himalayan kingdom's royal family.
He had been king for little more than two days, all of that time in intensive care since he allegedly shot his parents and six other royals before turning the gun on himself. The State Council did not say whether life support had been withdrawn.
Despite a lifetime of privilege, Dipendra was widely believed to be angered by an ancient tradition in Nepal: the arranged marriage.
Palace officials and local media reports said Queen Aiswarya rejected Dipendra's choice of a bride because of her clan, providing an apparent motive for the shooting spree.
"This is a sad day for us to see our young prince, who was gracious and every bit royalty, die," said Sangeeta Singh, an engineer, echoing the disbelief among many Nepalis that the crown prince could have killed his own family.
Born June 27, 1971, Dipendra was the eldest royal scion. He was declared heir apparent in 1972. He was the 12th generation king of the Shah dynasty whose first ruler, Prithvi Narayan, united smaller kingdoms to form modern Nepal.
After his early education in Katmandu, Dipendra, like his father, went to Eton College in Britain.
There, he was reportedly excused from chapel when he turned 18. According to Nepali tradition, the prince effectively became a god on his birthday and he could not be seen worshipping another.
"He is remembered as a bright student who was popular with other boys and well liked by his teachers," said Eric Anderson, provost of Eton College.
Known as "Dippy" to his friends, Dipendra returned to Katmandu to study at Tribhuwan University. He later joined the Royal Nepal Military Academy.
In 1990, he was commissioned as the colonel-in-chief of the Royal Nepalese Army, an honorary title given to the heir to the throne.
At a banquet during Prince Charles' 1998 visit to Nepal, Dipendra told him of his country's sorrow at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Dipendra also praised Eton for giving him a sense of "fair play and discipline."
Childhood classmates remember him as friendly and intelligent, and always at the top of the class. He was often seen in the streets without his bodyguards.
"He was a very loving child and a very good student, but he had a very bad temper," said Bimala Bhajracharya, principal of Kanti Iswori school where Dipendra studied as a child. "He had great presence of mind. He got along with all the children, respected all the teachers."
Dipendra was a flying enthusiast who enjoyed helicopters, reading and writing poetry. He also held a black belt in kung fu.
"He would have made a good king, just like his father," said Narendra Acharya, a college student in Katmandu.