The world’s youngest reigning monarch, Jigme Khesar, also known as the king of Bhutan, married commoner Jetsun Pema, in an elaborate royal wedding, exciting citizens in the tiny Himalayan nation.
The wedding ofOx King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck to his commoner bride, Jetsun Pema, has captivated a nation that had grown impatient with their 31-year-old bachelor king’s lack of urgency to take a wife and start a family since his father retired and handed power to him five years ago.
Thousands of Bhutanese from the surrounding villages joined the king and queen at their wedding reception at a fairground outside the country’s most sacred monastery fortress, where a slate of dancers performed traditional routines for the new couple.
When the king, who has a reputation as a down-to-earth and accessible leader, was asked how it felt to be married, he asked his questioner if she was married. When she said no, he responded: “It’s great; you should try it yourself.”
The celebrations began at 8:20 a.m. — a time set by royal astrologers — when the king, wearing the royal yellow sash over a golden robe with red flowers and multicolored boots, walked into the courtyard of the 17th century monastery in the old capital of Punakha and proceeded up the high staircase inside.
A few minutes later, his 21-year-old bride, the daughter of an airline pilot, arrived at the end of a procession of red-robed monks and flag bearers across a wooden footbridge over the wide, blue river beside the fort and followed him inside.
The remote nation began slowly opening up to the rest of the world in the 1960s. Foreigners and the international media were first admitted in 1974. Television finally arrived in 1999.
The country has not had a royal wedding since the fourth king held a mass ceremony in 1988 with his four wives — four sisters whom he had informally married years earlier. The current king says he will take only one wife, so the country is unlikely to see another such celebration for a long time.
Such was the popularity of the event, Bhutan’s airline had to add extra flights to deal with the flood of visitors from abroad.