Komal Rajya Lakshmi Devi Shah was born into a noble family in Nepal on 18 February 1951. She had an older sister, Aishwarya, who was born two years before her. Both sisters would marry royals and hold the title of Queen during their lifetimes.
Little did they know that Komal would be the last Queen consort of Nepal.
Komal was educated in India and Nepal and later married her second cousin, Prince Gyanendra, on 1 May 1970 in Kathmandu, making her Princess Komal. Together, they had two children: Prince Paras Shah (b. 1971) and Princess Prerana (b. 1978).
Both Komal and Aishwarya married into the Nepalese Royal Family in 1970, while their younger sister, Prekshya, married into the family two years later. The three sisters married three brothers, two of whom were monarchs.
Komal’s father-in-law, King Mahendra, died in 1972 at the age of 51 from a heart attack. Her brother-in-law, Birendra, then assumed the throne.
Tragedy struck the Nepalese Royal Family in June 2001 as Crown Prince Dipendra – Komal’s nephew – massacred many members of his family. He shot and killed his parents, siblings, aunts and other family members on the grounds of the Narayanhity Royal Palace.
He had gotten drunk during a family dinner, and his drunken actions resulted in his father having him leave and escorted to his room (his cousin later claimed the Crown Prince was only pretending to be drunk so that he would get kicked out). An hour later, he returned with a combat shotgun (SPAS-12), and he began to assassinate his family. He had a bag that contained other weapons like an M16, as well.
Komal was shot in the attack and spent four weeks recovering in Birendra Military Hospital.
Princess Komal lost her older sister in the massacre, and a few months later, her younger sister died in a helicopter crash.
After the death of the King, Queen and Crown Prince, Princess Komal’s husband, Gyanendra, ascended the Nepalese throne. Thus, Komal became Queen Komal of Nepal. She and her husband would only sit on the throne for seven years before the monarchy was abolished after a vote from parliament in 2008. This ended Nepal’s 240 years as a monarchy and turned the country into a republic.
Citizens celebrated in the street after the vote to abolish the monarchy, and the King and Queen lost all their royal privileges. They also only had a fortnight to vacate the palace. They did, however, retain their wealth and stayed in Nepal, living in Nirmal Niwas. They do make common trips to India, where they have maintained close ties, as the King is considered a divine figure to ‘akharas’ and pilgrimage centres in the country.
Both King Gyanendra and Queen Komal tested positive and were hospitalised for COVID-19 in late April 2021, and the Queen was admitted into the intensive care unit due to breathing issues by the end of the month. She received plasma therapy to help her recover. She was able to leave ICU a week later and continued to recover in Norvic International Hospital.
In recent years, there have been calls to revive the monarchy; however, the Nepalese government has not held a referendum, and it seems Nepal will remain a republic for the foreseeable future.