“If it pleases your highness, please partake of your repast,” says a woman dressed in a frayed kurta, using the courtly language of Nepal’s royalty.
The words seem completely out of place in the simple rented flat on the banks of the Manahara River in Kathmandu. Yamjit Pratap, 81, nods in assent, and sits on the dusty floor for his meal of dal, rice and vegetable curry.
Few in this run-down neighbourhood know that Yamjit Pratap is a descendant of Jung Bahadur Rana, who took power in a bloody coup in 1847 and founded a dynasty that lasted till 1948. But unlike other flamboyant members of the Rana clan who carry the ‘Jung Bahadur’ as their middle names, he lives in penury with his wife, ‘queen’ Narayani.
Yamjit Pratap is the sixth generation after Jung Bahadur, tracing his ancestry through his father Shiva Pratap and forebears Chandra Pratap, Yuddha Pratap and Jagat Jung, Jang Bahadur’s oldest son. Jagat Jung was married to Tika Rajya Laxmi, the daughter of King Surendra Shah, which was how the Rana and Shah dynasties secured family ties in those days.
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