The last ruler of the princely Shan state Hsipaw returned in 1954 with major developmental ideas from the US but was arrested during the Ne-Win coup in 1962 and never seen again. Kya Seng studied from 1949 to 1953 at the Colorado School of Mines in Denver. During this time he met and married Inge Sargent from Austria, who was to acquire the title Sao Nang Thusandi, Princess of Hsipaw.
The prince had ambitious plans to develop a semi-autonomous Hsipaw state. Tractors were bought and made available to the farmers for free. Huge orchards of oranges and other fruits have been set up and experimental agricultural projects have been carried out, including growing pineapples on barren hills in the Hsipaw area.
In ‘Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess’, Sargent wrote that Kya Seng wanted to alleviate poverty by developing Hsipaw’s abundant natural resources. In his role as steward, one of the prince’s early decisions was to dismiss some top officials for corruption.
The royal palace, also known as East Haw, was the first of its kind to buy supplies of rice. Built in 1924, the palace is today a fading but still impressive English style villa. Mr. Donald and his wife, Fern, greet visitors in their family-sized living room and tell the fascinating story of their ancestors and the saddest fate of the last prince.