Bhutan Royal Wedding
October 13, 2011 by staff
Bhutan Royal Wedding, The king of Bhutan, to be married today in a traditional ceremony in the isolated Himalayan nation, is a 31-year-old with a popular touch known to invite his people in his house for tea and a chat.
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck took the throne in 2008 at the beginning of democracy in the country inland famous for his invention of “Gross National Happiness” and its ban on foreign television until 1999.
In three years, the young monarch also known as K5 – the fifth king – and the “prince of the Himalayas,” he left his father’s shadow and inspires devotion revered almost as much of its 700,000 subjects.
“The fifth king in a short space of time has done very well,” parliamentary opposition leader Tshering Tobgay told AFP.
“He has walked across the country and met with almost all citizens.”
Such praise is commonplace on the streets of the capital Thimphu, where tens of thousands of people are expected to turn to a public celebration of the royal wedding on Saturday.
However, few know much about his future queen, except for some details on their competitiveness on the basketball court and a tender age.
Jetsun Pema, a 21-year-old was presented to the public in May and since then has quietly joined the king in their domestic travel, and more recently the victims of the earthquake in the west.
His face adorns a thousand posters, plaques and badges that have been made for the occasion and modest appearance, apparently, have conquered the public in the country known as the “Land of the Dragon”.
“I do not know much about her, but she is beautiful,” said Chuck Zhung, a business student 23 years of age. “His Majesty chose the right one.”
Others admire the apparent impact of the daughter of an airline pilot has done in the king, who speaks openly of his love and admiration for her, even taking her hand in public events.
“He really loves her,” said 16-year-old student while waiting for Choden Jurma practice a dance routine for the public celebrations on Saturday. “Wherever he goes he takes his hand. Now young people are starting to copy.”
The royal couple met apparently when she was 17 and seven, respectively, at a family picnic in Thimphu.
The prince then knelt and said: “When you grow up, if I’m single and not married, and if you are single and married, I do not want to be my wife, provided he still feels the same,” said students in August.
After school in India and the U.S., King graduated in political science and economics at Oxford University, where his classmates remember him as someone serious about their studies.
“Do not go to social events that much, but he had friends,” recalls a fellow student, who declined to be identified.
“It was much the same kind of person you see now as king. Sturdy and reliable”
The secondary school principal Lungtenzampa, Kinley Pem, taught the future king and queen at different times.
She remembers Pema, who has two brothers and two sisters, as a captain of the basketball team out of school and someone who has won awards for public speaking.
“She has no airs. I do not even dream of becoming a queen,” said school principal.
Pema out part of their studies in London, where he says he developed a keen interest in the arts, and is studying for a degree in international relations.
Its future role is likely to be doing charity work and, hopefully, care of the heir to the throne after the couple has children.
Since the advent of democracy in 2008, the king has a largely symbolic position, sometimes giving advice to the government on constitutional matters, but steering well clear of the daily acts of government.
The Elvis fan and keen mountain biker, who is committed to help protect his people from globalization, are known to invite citizens to and from his modest house in the capital, where he listens to their problems and fears.
He is one of 10 siblings born to the former king and his four wives, who are sisters.
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