The article reveals that Queen Ratna also killed a bear from a Department of Interior plane, even though shooting from the air was not allowed. After the trip, the king took home trophies of moose, caribou, mountain goat and two bears, the paper says.
Burnett also talks about the royals lavishly paying for luxury items in Alaska, and always having a hanger-on who carried ‘a bag filled with travelers cheques’ on shopping expeditions.
The article claims that Burnett presented the Nepal Embassy with bills for $60,000, worth nearly 500,000 in today’s dollars, which was never repaid. Kodiak Mayor Pete Deveau is quoted as saying: ‘Everybody here knocked themselves out for King Mahendra and then he doesn’t pay his bills.’
The paper quotes the general manager of the hotels that the royal entourage stayed in telling the Los Angeles Times in 1969: “We’ve been had.”
The US State Department reportedly refused to pay for the royal expenses, and the issue of unpaid bills was even raised by Congressmen on behalf of their Alaskan constituents. Burnett tells the paper that the non-payment left him deeply in debt, and he had to sell his plane and other possessions to pay some of it off.
Even so, Burnett thought Mahendra was “a real nice little guy”, and gives the king the benefit of doubt, saying may not have known that the Embassy did not pick up the tab. Mahendra even sent Burnett a ‘Happy New Year’ note after he got back to Nepal.
King Mahendra died five years later during a hunting trip in Chitwan, and was succeeded by his son, Birendra.
Although Nepal’s royals were fond of hunting big game, some of them turned into avid conservationists later on in life. The King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation was named after the king himself, and was headed by his other son, Gyanendra.
The trust is now called National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) after parliament voted to abolish the monarchy in 2008, and Gyanendra stepped down as king.
Nearly a third of Nepal’s area is now set aside for national parks or conservation areas.