The Himalayan country of Bhutan crowned their new king, 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, yesterday in a ceremony that brought thousands from snowy villages to the capital city of Thimphu. He is one of the youngest monarchs in the world.
His father Jigme Singye Wangchuck – who himself acceded to the throne when aged only 16 – took great pains to ensure that Khesar was prepared to take over the throne before his abdication in December 2006.
His father won international acclaim for his role in turning Bhutan into a constitutional monarchy while his emphasis on gross national happiness – the idea that spiritual and mental well-being are more important than material prosperity – made him the darling of development groups the world over. The young king began his reign without being officially crowned but was nevertheless confronted by a series of challenges that would have taxed the wisest of monarchs.
Like his father, the new king stressed that it was critically important that his country completed the process of becoming a constitutional monarchy despite the reluctance of many of his subjects to see any diminution of the monarch’s powers. The former king abdicated two years ago as part of his plan to reform and modernize the nation of 635,000 people by ending more than 100 years of absolute royal rule. The country’s first parliamentary elections were held in March.
The new king was crowned by his father, the revered former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, at 8:31 a.m. local time, making him the druk gyalpo, or dragon king.
The coronation came after a two year wait for astrologers to determine the precise moment deemed most auspicious for a successful reign.
The King Khesar was educated in India and the US before attending Oxford University to read politics and international relations. nown for his good looks and his skill on the basketball court, he has won hearts across north-east India and south-east Asia.
Photos: REUTERS, Getty Images, AP Photo
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