Bhutan Prepares for Royal Wedding

Posted October 12th, 2011 at 6:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Final preparations for a royal wedding were in full swing Wednesday in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, as students composed poems of joy, people practiced celebratory dances, and the airwaves were flooded with wedding fever.

On Thursday, Bhutan's top Buddhist cleric will perform the marriage ceremony for the world's youngest monarch, 31-year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and a commoner, 21-year-old Jetsun Pema. The couple will tie the knot at a monastery fortress in Punakha, Bhutan's ancient capital.

When Wangchuck announced his wedding plans to parliament in May, he said he had found a queen “who, though young, is kind and warm at heart, and good in character.”

Western-educated popular monarch Wangchuck is the fifth Druk Gyalpo, or king of the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Some of his subjects also refer to him as “The People's King.” He lives in a cottage in the capital, Thimpu, and often invites his subjects for tea.

Bhutan is a landlocked nation of only 635-thousand people, tucked away in the Himalayas between India and China. It takes great measures to preserve its culture and is often described in fairy tale-like language by world travelers who get the rare chance to visit.

The kingdom only began allowing television in 1999 and still restricts foreigners' access to the country.