The 31-year-old king of Bhutan, an Oxford-educated bachelor crowned in the remote Himalayan country in 2008, set up another royal wedding on Friday by announcing his engagement. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck revealed his intention at the opening session of parliament, a secretary from the ministry of information, Dasho Kinley Dorji, told AFP by telephone from the capital Thimphu. “The king presided over the opening of parliament this morning and during the ceremony he announced that he would be getting married in October,” Dorji added. Local media named the king’s fiancee as Jetsun Pema, a commoner.
The announcement sets up another wedding in a year of royal nuptials that has already seen Britain’s Prince William wed Kate Middleton in London in an event that captured the world’s attention. In July, Prince Albert II of Monaco is to marry his swimming champ fiancee, Charlene Wittstock. Bhutan, famed for its invention of Gross National Happiness to measure progress and its citizens’ well-being, is one of the most remote and reclusive places on Earth, sandwiched between India and China.
It had no roads or currency until the 1960s, allowed television only in 1999 and continues to resist the temptation of allowing mass tourism — preferring instead to allow access to only small organised groups of well-heeled visitors. The country changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy in 2008 when Bhutan adopted a constitution and held its first parliamentary elections.