Bhutan's fifth monarch, 31-year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk married 21-year-old commoner Jetsun Pema at a traditional Buddhist ceremony on Thursday morning.
The wedding took place at a majestic monastery-fortress, the Palace of Great Happiness in Phunaka, the country's old capital, which is about two hours away from Thimphu. The couple were dressed in traditional Bhutanese attire.
The day began early, with prayers initiated by Bhutan's chief abbot at 4 a.m. The royal family and the bride arrived in separate processions at around 8.30 a.m.
The King, his father, and the Chief Abbot first went inside a sacred shrine to seek blessings by lighting a lamp. The Raven Crown of the King signifying ‘the eternal reign of the Wangchuk dynasty'; the Golden Bumpa ‘filled with the ambrosia of eternal life, signifying the devotion of the Queen to the glorious continuity of the Wangchuk dynasty'; and the Queen's crown rest on the altar of this shrine.
The royal family and the bride then moved to the Grand Kuenra, a larger hall where other guests were seated. King Jigme Wangchuk ascended the Golden Throne, and wore the Raven Crown. The bride prostrated thrice in front of the king, and then offered him the Golden Bumpa to signify her devotion. The king had a sip of the ambrosia and bestowed the crown of the Druk Gyal-Tsuen on the bride, formalising her status as the new Queen of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Behind the couple was a large-sized golden Buddha statue.
The Chief Abbot, the king's father, the royal grandmother, Queen mothers, members of the royal family, relatives of the bride, religious leaders, the Prime Minister, members of the Cabinet, and other national dignitaries made offerings to the royal couple. Through the ceremony, monks chanted prayers for the ‘accumulation of spiritual and worldly virtues' and other blessings.
After the conclusion of the wedding rituals, the world's newest royal couple, walked out to an open ground which was the venue for public celebrations. They first went to greet ordinary citizens who had arrived at the venue from different corners of the country. People bowed and expressed their joy and best wishes.
The monarch respectfully thanked them, touched their offering of khadar, a white cloth, as a mark of appreciation, and hugged young children even as traditional dances continued at the centre of the ground.
Besides mingling with citizens, the King went personally to greet his guests seated in a separate tent on the ground to witness the public celebrations. He could be seen having an extended conversation with Jyotiraditya Scindia. Other guests from India included ambassador Pavan Varma, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, former ambassador Dileep Mehta, the late Arjun Singh's grandson Aishwarya Singh and his wife Devyani Rana, and journalists Karan Thapar and Malvika Singh. More than 20 non-resident ambassadors to Bhutan and their spouses were also present on the occasion.
Speaking briefly to the media, King Jigme Wangchuk said he was really happy. “I have been waiting for quite some time to get married. It doesn't matter when you get married as long as it is to the right person. I am certain I am married to the right person.”
The public celebrations will continue for the next three days, during the Royal Couple's return journey to Thimphu on Friday as well as at official events organised in the capital to give citizens a chance to catch a glimpse of the King and their new Queen, Jetsun Pema Wangchuk.