Minutes before embarking on the world's worst royal rampage since the Bolshevik killing of the Russian royal family, Nepal's Crown Prince Dipendra was reportedly tending bar at a traditional family dinner.
The chubby, bon vivant prince then is said to have left the weekly royal dinner party at around 9 p.m. last Friday, only to return, this time in military uniform and bearing two automatic weapons.
His first victim was his father, King Birendra, according to an account told by an immediate relative of a witness to the killings. The king apparently fell to the ground with a look of "utter astonishment" on his face, the unnamed witness told British daily The Times and the Washington Post in a joint interview.
Five days after the royal bloodbath that ended with the death of 10 royal family members, including Dipendra, Nepal is still attempting to recover from the shock.
The government today lifted a two-day curfew set to curtail rioting on the streets of Katmandu after hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Monday.
Pedestrians and traffic crowded the narrow streets of Katmandu and mourners at the royal palace were allowed to pay condolences to the departed king.
Police shot and wounded 14 people for defying the curfew Tuesday and a total of more than 400 curfew violators have been arrested over the past two days.
Inquiry in Disarray
On the streets of Katmandu, anger over the lack of official explanations for the killings have been mounting. But an official probe ordered by the new king, Gyanendra, has fallen into disarray after an opposition politician refused to join the team.
The investigative team was scheduled to submit its findings on Thursday, but that deadline looks unlikely to be met.
But even as official explanations were not forthcoming, witness accounts in local media appeared to corroborate the reports in The Times and Post.
Initial reports said Dipendra had murdered most his family over an altercation with his mother, Queen Aishwarya, sparked by his desire to marry the daughter of a Nepali politician whose family has ties to former royal families in India.
But after a seriously wounded Dipendra was named king upon his father's death, King Gyanendra said the killings were accidental, leading to widespread disbelief among Nepalese that their well-loved prince could slay his parents.
However, accounts now emerging from witnesses to the tragedy and from Dipendra's friends and associates paint a familiar picture of an heir to a tradition-bound monarchy battling the pressures of dynastic expectations with the freedoms of modern life.
Like many members of elite and powerful families in developing nations, Dipendra was educated in a prestigious British boarding school, had access to all the luxuries of a wealthy modern lifestyle, but had to conform to the norms of a family that traces its ancestry to the founder of the nation.
Dipendra — or "Dippy" as he was known to friends at Eton, where he schooled — was a bit of a "partyboy." Classmates at Eton described Dippy as a boy with a temper who often showed off a loaded revolver he had in his room.
Helicopters, fast cars and poetry were his indulgences and some friends fondly recalled how the young prince hid bottles of alcohol brought in by his faithful bodyguards.
He returned to Nepal to assume his responsibilities after graduating from Eton, responsibilities that included heading the Nepali Olympic delegation to the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2000 Sydney Games.
Teresa Joel, a hostess at the Atlanta Olympics, remembered the prince as a man bogged down by family responsibilities. "He felt like he was misunderstood by his family," she told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America . "And they had certain expectations of him that he wasn't quite sure he could fulfill."
A Shakespearean Tragedy
By most accounts, Dipendra's romance with Devyani Rana, a beautiful 23-year-old of royal stock, brought the clash between free will and family responsibility to a flashpoint.
The two traveled abroad together frequently, where they were seen holding hands. But pressure from Queen Aishwarya — herself a member of the Rana clan, a powerful family in the subcontinent of which Devyani is a part, — reportedly caused the prince to snap.
From the account provided to The Times, Dipendra apparently displayed no emotion as he shot down many members of the royal family.
"He said nothing at all throughout the whole episode, and there was no expression whatever on his face," the witness told The Times. "He just fired indiscriminately."
According to the account, Queen Aishwarya, and Dipendra's younger brother, Prince Nirajan, followed him into the garden during the shooting spree where they were shot dead.
The witness report also painted a heroic picture of the current king's son Paras Shah, a royal bad boy, who has come under suspicion in the past few days.
But Shah apparently got some of the younger royal members to hide behind a couch while the rampage raged on.
According to The Times, relatives of witnesses were determined to see the truth come out, but it is not yet known if the inquiry commission will question royal family members.