"Thibaw suffered a great propaganda defeat in his very rise to the throne. It had been an immemorial tradition when a new king succeeded for there to be a 'purging of the real according to custom' – i.e. a massacre of the previous ruler's kinsmen. Since Thibaw was distant from the throne, he had to kill eighty-three members of the royal family. The killings were spread over two days and were carried out by members of the Royal Guard. As was customary, the princesses were strangled while the princes were sewn into red velvet sacks and gently beaten to death with paddles – it being taboo to shed royal blood. Unfortunately for Thibaw, this took place in an age when worldwide communication brought such goings-on to international attention. The details – including the fact that the mass of corpses buried in a palace courtyard creating a gas which caused the soil to erupt, so that it had to be trodden down by elephants – were all reported in the West, especially in England, where they excited very unfavourable comment."
from From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe