Along the footsteps of a King: Glimpses of His Majesty’s 2023 sojourn


His Majesty The King, has actively engaged in various activities in 2023, from diplomatic visits and military promotions to granting charters and attending international events. This flurry of activity underscores His Majesty’s commitment to strengthening Bhutan’s domestic and international standing.

The year 2023 unfolded with His Majesty diligently serving his nation. From fostering international relations to promoting deserving individuals and overseeing domestic developments, His Majesty’s busy schedule highlighted his dedication to the country’s progress and the welfare of his subjects.

The particular year began with a Royal Visit to Kuwait on January 16, marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Meetings with the Royal Family, the crown prince of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahamed AI-Jaber AI-Sabah, and government officials cemented ties and paved the way for future collaboration.

On January 18, His Majesty granted an audience to 3,500 Bhutanese living and working in Kuwait. There are 5,300 Bhutanese who are living in the Gulf countries. Which demonstrates his concern for their well-being and a commitment to supporting them abroad.

His Majesty also visited India from April 3 to April 5 at the invitation of the President of India, Droupadi Murmu. The particular visit made a testament to the long-lasting and deep-rooted friendship between Bhutan and India and furthered the close tie between the two countries.

Additionally, His Majesty graced the opening ceremony of the 9th Session of Parliament whereby dignitaries, including the Royal Family and officials from the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, witnessed the momentous occasion. Later, the King met with the delegation, fostering closer ties between the two regions.

Beyond politics, His Majesty focused on interfaith dialogue, granting an audience to the chairpersons of various religious organizations gathered for their annual meeting in Thimphu. This three-day event, attended by 119 participants, aimed to strengthen social cohesion and harmony through community engagement.

Further emphasizing Bhutan’s global presence, on May 6 HM attended the coronation of The King Charles III in London, reaffirming the warm relations between the two nations.

Later on, on June 16, the King granted appointments to new ambassadors and promoted personnel in the Royal Army and Police, recognizing their service and strengthening national security. On the same day, His Majesty graced the graduation of the 56th batch of De-suung training at Pelrithang, Gelephu. The air thrummed with anticipation as 500 young men and women, their faces etched with pride, stood testament to a momentous occasion: the first glimpse of the pilot part into the Gyalsung.

HM’s visit to the Gyalsung Academy site echoed this sentiment. The academy, envisioned as a crucible for shaping future generations, promised a holistic education, blending military training with cultural values and life skills. It was a testament to His Majesty’s unwavering belief in the power of youth and their potential to not only serve their nation but also shape its destiny.

As part of his ongoing royal tour, His Majesty graced the Gyalsung Academy sites in Samtse and Gelephu on June 29. HM also granted audiences to Dzongkhag officials and Desuups participating in the 58th batch of De-suung accelerated trainings at Chhukha, Gelephu, Tashicholing, and Tendruk.

On July 7, His Majesty granted an audience to the Indian Foreign Secretary, Vinay Mohan Kwatra, in Gelephu. His visit was for the discussion of plans to further expand bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The next day, His Majesty embarked on an overseas visit from Paro to visit Japan and the United States. Meanwhile, global business and economic leaders were met in preparation for the country’s forthcoming economic development endeavors.

Upon returning from the overseas trip over the weekend, HM immediately traveled to Lhuentse accompanied by His Royal Highness Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The district was heavily impacted by a recent flash flood that claimed the lives of 23 people. The tragedy struck on July 20th, when a river overflowed and triggered a landslide, overwhelming the work camps of the Yungichhu Hydro Power Project.

Upon arrival in Lhuentse, His Majesty met with the bereaved families at Autsho, expressing his deepest condolences, and offered his unwavering support during such a difficult time. His Majesty also visited the flood-affected site in Ungar, where he continued with the rescue operations and then held discussions with Lhuentse Dzongkhag officials to assess the situation and coordinate further aid.

During the visit, His Majesty the King also bestowed the honor of dhar to the Maedtsho gup, and the Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thrizin, Tsenkhar Gup Tashi Penjor. This tradition of granting dhar to gups personally by His Majesty began in 2011, following the first local government elections in the country.

In a heartwarming display of connection, His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen graced the Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary School’s Golden Jubilee celebrations that nurtured generations of young minds over 50 years. Adding to the joyous occasion, His Majesty and Gyaltsuen bestowed a special gift upon the school: the Golden Jubilee Tennis Court.

On August 17, in a significant moment highlighting Bhutan’s progress, His Majesty the King granted an audience to Her Excellency Ms. Rabab Fatima, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and SIDs. Ms. Fatima’s visit came as Bhutan prepares to graduate from the LDC category, marking a remarkable achievement for the nation.

His Majesty expressed his gratitude to the United Nations for its continued support of Bhutan’s development journey. He highlighted the nation’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and building a prosperous and sustainable future for its citizens.

On September 9, excitement filled the air as Their Majesties announced the joyous arrival of their third child, a beautiful baby girl. Born on the 25th day of the 7th month of the Female Water Rabbit Year at Lingkana Palace, the princess brought immense joy to the nation.

On September 12 and 28, in a series of ceremonies highlighting merit and leadership, His Majesty The King granted dhar to several individuals trusted with crucial roles in various institutions to ensure the smooth functioning of the judiciary, parliament, and diplomatic service.

His Majesty The King visited the newly relocated Gyalpozhing College of IT (GCIT) campus in Kabesa on October 20. The presence at the event sent a strong message of support for technological innovation in Bhutan. Additionally, HM’s interaction with the showcased projects demonstrates his understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging technologies.

On the following day, His Majesty visited the Panchayan Mandir at Kuenselphodrang and offered prayers on Durga Puja. The Majesty’s participation in these traditional rituals showcases his dedication to religious freedom, cultural inclusivity, and national unity, sending a powerful message of peace and harmony within Bhutan and beyond.

The two-day 6th Royal Highland Festival was observed in Laya from 23rd to 24th of October. His Majesty’s presence at the Royal Highland Festival transcended mere attendance. It served as a powerful symbol of cultural appreciation, personal connection, and support for the sustainable development of Bhutan’s vibrant highland communities.

On October 27, the 35th anniversary of the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) program was celebrated. The occasion, graced by His Majesty the King himself, resonated with warmth and appreciation for the enduring friendship and development partnership between Japan and Bhutan.

On the following day, His Majesty attended the funeral of Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji, a gesture of honor and recognition of Lyonpo’s lifetime service to the nation.

His Majesty appointed an interim government to carry out the routine functions of the government during the election period, not exceeding 90 days with the dissolution of the government.

His Majesty The King of Bhutan embarked on an India trip from November 3rd to 10th. His Majesty met the Prime Minister of India, underscoring the high-level engagement between the two nations.

Adding a regional touch, His Majesty visited the states of Assam and Maharashtra for the first time, paving an opportunity to connect with a broader spectrum of the Indian people and experience the diverse cultural tapestry of the nation.

As soon as the announcement was made by His Majesty to the nation on December 16, people rushed over a lengthy and vast queue to book a seat in the stadium, which started at 9:00 p.m. to meet the King and the excitement of the king’s speech.

On the following day, His Majesty addressed the nation from Changlimithang Stadium in celebration of the 116th national day. During this joyous occasion, His Majesty conferred medals to recognize both Bhutanese and foreign individuals and institutions.

Additionally, the day marked a major shift in Bhutan’s economic development strategy. An ambitious project with the potential to transform the nation’s economy and society, “Gelephu Mindfulness City,” His Majesty outlined the bold vision of the future.

The next day, His Majesty and Her Majesty Gyaltsuen offered prayers and butter lamps in Semtokha Dzong for the late Amir of Kuwait, underlining the importance of international relationships and the value placed on diplomacy and cultural exchange.

His Majesty and His Holiness Je Khenpo graced the Salang Tendrel ceremony commencing the construction on December 23rd, along with the inauguration of the Gelephu landmark water supply scheme.

The year marked another fulfilling year for the country and its citizens as His Majesty seamlessly steered the nation to yet another fruitful journey. 

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