Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (Dzongkha: འཇིགས་མེད་གེ་སར་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་དབང་ཕྱུག་, born 21 February 1980) is the son of Jigme Singye Wangchuk and the 5th and current reigning Dragon King (Druk Gyalpo) of the Kingdom of Bhutan. He became king on 14 December 2006 being crowned on 6 November 2008.

Khesar (pronounced Gesar) is the eldest son of the fourth and previous Dragon King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and his father's third wife, Queen (Ashi) Tshering Yangdon. He has a younger sister, Princess Dechen Yangzom, and brother, Prince Jigme Dorji, as well as four half-sisters and three half-brothers.

Engagement and marriage
As he opened the session of parliament on Friday, 20 May 2011, the King announced his engagement to Jetsun Pema, 21, born in Thimphu on 4 June 1990. They were married on 13 October 2011 in Punakha Dzong. The royal wedding was Bhutan's largest media event in history. The royal wedding ceremony was held first in Punakha followed by formal visits to different parts of the country. During the ceremony the King also received the Crown of the Druk Gyal-tsuen from the sacred Machhen and bestowed it on Jetsun Pema, thereby formally proclaiming her as the Queen of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The wedding was held in traditional style with the "blessings of the guardian deities". 

After completing his higher secondary studies at Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School, Bhutan, Khesar studied abroad at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Cushing Academy and Wheaton College in Massachusetts, United States, before graduating from Magdalen College, University of Oxford, where he completed the Foreign Service Programme and International Relations.

As Crown Prince, he travelled abroad, officially representing Bhutan on several occasions and has an active role in numerous cultural, educational and economic organisations. He is an active basketball player and has represented Bhutan in many international events.

Ascension to the throne
In December 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced his intention to abdicate in his son's favour in 2008, and that he would begin handing over responsibility to him immediately. On 14 December 2006, the King abdicated and transferred the throne to Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who was officially crowned on 6 November 2008, in the month of the male earth rat, in Punakha. Religious ceremonies and public celebrations were also held at Tashichhoedzong and Changlingmithang in Thimphu. The coronation ceremony comprised an ancient and colourful ritual, attended by thousands of foreign dignitaries, including the President of India, Pratibha Patil, and the External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna.

CNN reported that, in order to welcome Khesar as King of Bhutan, people painted the street signs, hung festive banners and decorated traffic circles with fresh flowers to celebrate the occasion.

Accomplishments as king
The young king began his reign overseeing the democratization of his country by presiding over the last sessions of the parliament where electoral laws, land reform and other important issues were deliberated. He stated that the responsibility of this generation for Bhutanese was to ensure the success of democracy. He also travelled extensively around the country to encourage participation in the upcoming democratic exercises, speaking mainly to the youth of Bhutan on the need for Bhutanese to strive for greater standards in education, business, civil service and the need for people of a small country to work harder than those of others.

He signed a new treaty of friendship with India in February 2007, replacing the treaty of 1949. Many government initiatives were undertaken by the new King with a view to strengthening the system in preparation for the democratic changes in 2008. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan was adopted on 18 July 2008, by the first elected parliament. On 1 November 2008, he was formally crowned in Punakha as the Fifth King of the Wangchuck Dynasty.

Since the formal coronation, King Jigme Khesar's first landmark project was the launching of the National Cadastral Resurvey in March 2009. The programme is aimed at resolving long-standing land issues of excess land that affects every Bhutanese household.

The King has also been giving away land to landless farmers around the country. The on-going project takes the King to remote villages and communities. He personally supervised the rebuilding efforts following major earthquakes and floods in 2009.

On 24 November 2011 The King was called to the Bar of England and Wales at the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple and was also made an Honorary Master of the Bench.

Popularity abroad
As Crown Prince of Bhutan, Khesar attended Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 60th Anniversary Celebrations on 12–13 June 2006 in Bangkok along with royals from 25 countries. Known in the Thai press as Prince Jigme, the prince, at 26 the youngest of the visiting royals, caused a sensation, giving rise to a legion of female fans in Thailand. The Thai press dubbed him "Prince Charming", publishing his photograph and running stories about him as well as tourism in Bhutan for several weeks after he had left Thailand. When he became king, he was the youngest reigning monarch in the world, and because of his handsome appearance, he has been called, "The world's most handsome king."

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