‘Prince charming’ is now king of Bhutan


Thimphu : Oxford-educated Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Thursday became the world’s youngest reigning monarch of the newest democracy of Bhutan after the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck handed over the Raven Crown to his eldest son.

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The 28-year-old king has thus stepped on a new stage of the royal lineage in this Shangri-la of jaw-dropping beauty.

The oldest son of former Bhutanese king Jigme Singye Wangchuck and his third wife Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon, the bachelor king has a younger full sister and brother and also four half-sisters and three half-brothers by his father’s other three wives. The new king’s father married four sisters.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck studied in the US and at Oxford University, where he completed an MA in politics.

As he was partly educated in Britain and has travelled abroad, the king has continued the policy of limited modernisation adopted by his father. He has sought to lift the “Gross National Happiness” of Bhutan by preserving its traditions and environment.

As a prince, he followed a simple lifestyle and that has not changed even after he was enthroned in December 2006 after his father abdicated the throne in his favour. Last week, the young king was seen mingling with locals in the streets of capital Thimphu.

After completing his basic education in Bhutan, Khesar studied abroad at Phillips Academy (Andover), the Cushing Academy and Wheaton College in Massachusetts, US, before graduating from St. Peter’s College, Oxford University, Britain, where he completed the Foreign Service Programme and an M.Phil in politics.

He has officially represented Bhutan on several occasions abroad and has an active role in numerous cultural, educational and economic organisations, even as a crown prince.

During a visit to Thailand in 2006 as a crown prince, he was dubbed by the Thai press as Prince Charming. Local newspapers claimed that his visit caused a sensation, giving rise to a legion of female fans in Thailand.

The new king on several public forums promised to push forward his father’s dream of a modern Bhutan where the motto would be to believe in the principles of Gross National Happiness rather Gross Domestic Product as an index of prosperity.

Loved and respected by one and all in the country of 650,000 people, the new king is seen as a messiah of the poor and the downtrodden.