Bhutan King Marries, Crowns Queen

Posted October 13th, 2011 at 12:55 am (UTC-5)
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The king of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan has married his commoner bride and crowned his new queen.

Thirty-one year old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the world's youngest monarch, married 21-year-old Jetsun Pema in a Buddhist ceremony Thursday at a monastery fortress in Punakha, the country's ancient capital.

The wedding captivated the nation with students composing poems of joy, and people practicing celebratory dances.

Western-educated hereditary 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.”

Wangchuck became Bhutan's first constitutional king in 2008 two years after his father, King Jigme Singye, voluntarily stepped down and commanded that a constitution be drafted and the country shift to a parliament-based democracy.

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.