The Journey of His Majesty the King

His Majesty having packed lunch at a security outpost during one of the inspection visits along the border in Tempaling, between Phuentsholing and Samtse in May this year

KARMA CHIMI

Thimphu

His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was enthroned to the Golden Throne as the fifth hereditary King of Bhutan on 1 November 2008, a year marking the historic 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan.

The official coronation was done in Punakha Dzong, the ancient capital of Bhutan where the King received the sacred scarf called Dhar Na Nga from the Machhen Lhakhang. Unlike all the monarchs before him, His Majesty the King was the only one to receive the set of scarves in the presence of his father.

The Dhar Na Nga coloured in white, yellow, red, green, and blue represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and sky. The receiving of the scarf signified the affirmation of Bhutanese monarchs as Dharma Kings and the moment of Crown Prince becoming a King. Thus, all the five monarchs of Bhutan have received the same set of scarves from the Machhen Lhakhang, which holds the Kudung (physical relics) of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in Punakha Dzong. 

His Majesty the King and His Holiness the Je Khenpo are the only people who receive the sacred Dhar from the Machhen Lhakhang.

On 6 November 2008, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo crowned the young prince as the 5th hereditary monarch at Tashichho Dzong. 

This year marks the 13th Coronation Anniversary of His Majesty the King.

The enthronement of His Majesty as the King was under the dynamic vision of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. 

Coinciding with the 98th National Day celebration at Trashi Yangtse in 2005, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo gave a Royal address, addressing the appointment of the young Chhoetse Penlop as the Fifth King of Bhutan and the formation of the first parliamentary democratic form of government in Bhutan.

The crown prince assumed the historical position of 16th Trongsa Penlop on 21 October 2004 at Tashichho Dzong and the traditional ceremony was held on 31 October 2004 at Trongsa Dzong.

His Majesty’s unofficial rule and the responsibilities of the state began when fourth Druk Gyalpo abdicated his throne after 34 years of glorious reign on 9 December 2006.

Early Life and Education

His Majesty the King was born on 21 February 1980 to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and Her Queen Mother, Gyalyum Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck.

He attended and completed high school at Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School. After that, His Majesty went abroad to study in Massachusetts and joined the ‘Phillips Academy’ and later on attended the ‘Cushing Academy’ and graduated in 1999 and studied at Wheaton College, the USA in 2000.

His Royal Highness moved to the United Kingdom and continued further education in Magdalen College, Oxford University, and pursued a degree in Foreign Service Program and International Relations from Oxford University.

In 2005, His Majesty also attended the National Defence College program in India.

As a crown prince, His Majesty made extensive travels to the various regions in Bhutan, encouraged by his father.

Royal Wedding

On 20 May 2011, His Majesty announced his engagement to Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck during the opening session of the Parliament. Hence, on 13 October 2011, His Majesty married Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck at Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang in Punakha.

The wedding ceremony was done in a traditional Buddhist ceremony.

His Majesty received the Dhar Na Nga for Jetsun Pema from Machhen Lhakhang and gave the scarves along with the Phoenix Crown to the Queen of Bhutan.

The Royal couple now has two children, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck who was born in Lingkana Palace in Thimphu on 5 February 2016, and His Royal Highness the Prince, Ugyen Wangchuck on 19 March 2019. 

Leadership during Covid-19

His Majesty the King has been at the forefront of the preparedness and response plan against the pandemic, leading with remarkable leadership to keep the country and its people safe and secure.

The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGRK) was launched in April last year to the people whose livelihoods were affected by the current pandemic. The DGRK is to be continued for an additional period of 15 months from April 2021 till June next year.

With the Royal Command, a team of specialists formed to develop plans and strategies to curve out the immediate economic challenges, and a National Resilience Fund of Nu 30-billion was formed 

Upon the Royal Command, there was a waiver on interest payment for loans from April to June 2020.

His Majesty made extensive tours around the country amidst the pandemic, especially in the southern border providing moral support and reassurance to the people and the frontline workers.

His Majesty helped to provide reassurance to the Bhutanese living abroad like the Royal Command to rent two apartments to be used as a quarantine facility for Bhutanese living in New York.

Desuung

Under His Majesty’s noble vision, the so-called Desuung, “Guardian of Peace” program was born. It was launched on 14 February 2011 at Tencholing in Wangduephodrang.

Desuups are His Majesty’s special force to help the unreached and to mitigate the national emergencies.

The volunteers in orange have been actively providing their services during the pandemic at the forefront to safeguard the country. 

Even during a natural disaster and in need of time, the services of Desuups have been vital.

His Majesty commanded the start of accelerated Desuung training programs to specialize in dealing with the current health emergencies. Presently, 46 batches of Desuups have been trained amounting to 23,630 Desuups in the country.

Gyalsung

During the 112th National Day celebration on 17 December 2019, His Majesty the King announced the Gyalsung National Service.

Gyalsung project is envisioned as a one-year integrated training program mandatory for all youths attaining the age of 18 which will commence from February 2022.

The project will offer three months of basic military training and nine months of specialized training in home construction technologies, computing, entrepreneurship, and focused development of skills in agriculture.

Currently, the five national service centers that are underway are Jamtsholing in Samtse, Tareythang in Sarpang, Pemathang in Samdrup Jongkhar, Khotokha in Wangduephodrang, and Bondeyma in Mongar.

Gyalsung project is one of the appropriate platforms to instill values, individual rights, and duties into practice in promoting and building a healthy system through peace, compassion, and unity into the young minds.