Nepal: Pope leads world shock
KATMANDU, Nepal -- The massacre in Nepal has prompted expressions of shock and grief.
Pope John Paul II sent a condolence telegram to Prince Gyanendra, the dead ruler's brother, assuring "your royal highness and the government and people of Nepal" of his prayers for the dead.
He prayed for "divine blessings of comfort and peace upon all who are in mourning."
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a statement expressing his shock and sorrow.
"The secretary-general extends his heartfelt condolences to the people of Nepal and calls for calm and stability," a U.N. statement said.
In London, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her eldest son Prince Charles were "deeply shocked and saddened."
The Prince of Wales met Crown Prince Dipendra, who is in a critical condition on a life-support machine, on several occasions and visited Nepal in 1998 as his guest.
Prince Nirajan, the Crown Prince's younger brother, who was shot dead, was a contemporary of Prince Charles's son Prince William at Eton, where both Dipendra and his father were also educated.
While at Eton -- which he joined in 1995 on the same day as Prince William -- Nirajan reportedly had a phone and fax in his room to help him stay in touch with affairs of state at home and with the Nepalese Embassy in London.
When Dipendra was at Eton in the 1980s he was nicknamed "Dippy" by some of the other pupils. He was described by contemporaries as an out-going character.
A statement from St James's Palace said: "The Prince of Wales has sent a message of condolence to the Prince Regent, Prince Gyanendra.
"The message expresses his profound shock at this unimaginable tragedy and says that his heart goes out to all the family and the people of Nepal."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair also expressed sympathy as flags flew at half-mast at the military barracks in Kent, southeastern England, where more than 1,000 Gurkhas, the legendary Nepalese fighters, are based.
Blair said the deaths were a "dreadful tragedy."
"I would like to express our sympathy and condolences to the people of Nepal following the dreadful tragedy there in respect of the royal family," Blair said.
"The royal family of Nepal have many, many ties with this country. Through the Gurkhas we have a particular respect and affinity for the people of Nepal and I think it is only right to express our deep sympathy and condolences to them over what has happened."
In India, the External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh expressed India's deep shock at the "tragic and untimely demise" of the Nepalese royal family.
Declaring three days of state mourning, Singh told the Associated Press: "India grieves with Nepal."
He said: "The government and people of India are stunned and deeply shocked at the tragic and untimely demise of his majesty the King of Nepal, her majesty the Queen and other members of the royal family.
"As a close neighbour and friend, India conveys its heartfelt condolences to the mourning nation of the royal kingdom of Nepal.
"Our heart goes out to them and the Queen Mother in this hour of grief. India grieves with Nepal."
Regional neighbour Singapore also sent its condolences.
"We are shocked and saddened at the news of the tragic death of the king and queen of Nepal and other members of the royal family," Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AP.
Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga expressed her shock over the death of King Birendra, a founding member of the seven-member South Asian regional grouping.
Kumaratunga, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), said she hoped the people of Nepal will be able to "surmount this great national tragedy."
Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he was deeply shocked to learn of the "heart-rending tragedy."
"I would like to express our profound sorrow to Your Excellency and ... the people of Nepal on the demise of Their Majesties," Thaksin said.
France, Australia and Singapore added their voices to the mourning.
"France expresses its consternation at the deaths of the King of Nepal and Her Majesty Queen Aishwarya in dramatic circumstances, which also cost the lives of several members of the royal family and its entourage," a French Foreign Ministry statement said.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the king had been "a pillar of stability" in Nepal's transition to democracy.
"It is my earnest hope that peace and order will be maintained in Nepal. This will be important for Nepal and the stability of its wider region," he said.
Singapore's Foreign Ministry issued a statement conveying "heartfelt condolences" to Nepal.
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