Old photos of former king and queen circulating with false claims

Injina Panthi / September 30, 2021

A collage of misleading social media posts that claim former king and former queen were on the September 27 Buddha Air flight to Biratnagar.

On September 27, a Buddha Air flight from Kathmandu to Biratnagar experienced a landing gear deployment problem and made a safe emergency landing in Kathmandu.

After the safe landing, various individuals posted group photos on social media showing former king Gyanendra Shah and former queen Komal with Buddha Air pilot Ang Gelu Sherpa and ground staff along with claims that the plane was able to avoid a major accident because the royal couple was on board.

On a Facebook page titled ‘Raja Gyanendra King Gyanendra (Rastrabhakta Raja),’ which has 60,000 members, a Facebook user Bishal Rajbhandari posted the group photo. The post reads: “The adage that god dwells where the king and queen are, has been proven true. The king and queen were aboard today’s Buddha Air flight, so an accident was averted by the grace of Lord Pashupatinath.”

The post has received more than 3,500 responses and has been shared 498 times. Other Facebook users including Santosh Limbu and Aryan Ali have also shared the photo with similar claims.

Similar photos have been posted on another popular video-sharing platform TikTok. A post by TikTok user @astro_neeraj15 has earned over 22,000 likes and it has been shared over 59 times. Likewise, a post by @dahaltharka received 128,000 likes and 854 shares.

Fact Check

This tweet by Buddha Air shows the former king and former queen with Buddha Air pilot Ang Gelu Sherpa and ground staff in December 2018.

South Asia Check ran a ‘reverse image search’ on the internet but couldn’t find the photos circulating on social media. But a keyword search on Google took us to a similar image posted on the official Twitter handle of Buddha Air on December 17, 2018. The post reads: “On board with us today were the former King of Nepal Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Queen Komal Rajya Lakshmi Devi on their flight to #Pokhara. #BuddhaAir #FlyWithUs.” From the subjects and sartorial details in the Buddha Air photograph, it becomes clear that the photos currently being shared on social media were from the same occasion but taken from slightly different angles. So it is clear that nearly three years old photos were used to mislead the public into believing that the former royal couple was in the September 27 flight.

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