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Troubled times saw king's rise

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King Gyanendra has been on the throne since June 2001.

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(CNN) -- Nepal's King Gyanendra came to throne in troubled circumstances -- the June 1, 2001 massacre of Nepal's royal family in which his brother, then-King Birendra, was slain by Birendra's son Dipendra in a drunken rage.

Dipendra, who was the crown prince, also shot and killed his mother Queen Aishwarya and six other relatives before turning the gun on himself.

Dipendra was briefly named monarch after the killings, but died in a coma two days later from his self-inflicted wounds. Gyanendra then became king.

Gyanendra was born on July 7, 1947 in Kathmandu. He was educated at St. Joseph's College in Darjeeling, India and graduated from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu in 1969.

Gyanendra is a member of the Shah dynasty, which has held the throne since the mid-1700s. He married Queen Komal Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah in 1970. They have a son and a daughter.

Gyanendra's official biography lists his hobbies as nature study, reading and writing poetry, with a special interest in conservation and preservation of natural and man-made heritage.

His elder brother Birendra had come to the throne on January 31, 1972 after the sudden death of their father, King Mahendra. Harvard-educated Birendra had ceded absolute power in 1990, but maintained his popularity among the people of Nepal until his murder in 2001.

From 1990 to 2001, Nepal was run by a democratically elected government. In 2002, with the country facing a communist insurgency, King Gyanendra suspended parliament and appointed his own leaders.

In February 2005 he took full control of the government, justifying his actions by arguing that the government had failed to protect Nepal from Maoist rebels.

The Maoist insurgency has killed at least 13,000 people since 1996. The rebels are listed as terrorists by Washington and New Delhi.

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