King of Bhutan marries his commoner bride

PUNAKHA, Bhutan (AP) — The beloved king of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan married his commoner bride Thursday in an ancient Buddhist ceremony at the country's most sacred monastery fortress.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, wearing the raven crown, came down from his golden throne in front of a huge statue of Buddha to place a smaller, silk brocade crown upon the head of his bride, Jetsun Pema. Monks chanted in celebration as she took her seat beside him as the new queen of the country.

The wedding has captivated the nation, which had grown impatient with their 31-year-old bachelor king's lack of urgency to find a bride and start a family of his own since his father retired and handed power to him five years ago.

Children composed poems, flight attendants practiced celebratory dances and posters of the couple were nearly ubiquitous.

The celebrations began at 8:20 a.m. — a time set by royal astrologers — when the king, wearing the royal yellow sash, walked into the courtyard of the 17th century monastery in the old capital of Punakha and proceeded up the high staircase inside. A few minutes later, his 21-year-old bride arrived at the end of a procession of red-robed monks and flag bearers across a wooden footbridge over the wide, blue river beside the fort and followed him inside.

Singers chanted songs of celebration amid the clanging of drums and the drone of long dhung trumpets. She wore a traditional wraparound skirt with a gold jacket with deep red cuffs.

Inside, the nation's top cleric, who presided over the wedding, performed a purification ceremony for the couple in front of a massive 100-foot Thongdal tapestry of Bhutan's 17th century founder, the monk-king Zhabdrung.

The pair then proceeded to the temple for a ceremony broadcast live on national television, save for a few minutes when the king, his father and the cleric, known as the Je Khenpo, entered the sacred tomb of Zhabdrung, where only they are allowed.

The king's father then gave the bride an array of five colored scarves representing blessings from the tomb. Hesitantly, she then approached the king's throne with a golden chalice filled with the ambrosia of eternal life. They held it together for several seconds and then he drank.

The king, wearing his red Raven Crown, with an image of the protector bird rising from the top, came down from the throne and placed a smaller crown on her head. After she took her place as queen, the newly married couple was feted by monks playing deep tones on traditional trumpets and pounding drums.

The Je Khenpo presented them a series of gifts — a mirror, curd, grass, a conch — representing blessings for longevity, wisdom, purity and other well wishes.

Unlike this year's other royal wedding — that of Britain's William and Kate — there were no foreign princes, no visiting heads of state, no global celebrities. Just the royal family, thousands of nearby villagers gathered at a nearby field waiting for the royal couple to celebrate with them and the rest of the country's 700,000 people watching live on TV.

"The whole theme of the wedding was to keep it a simple family affair, that is the Bhutanese family," said Kinley Dorji, Bhutan's secretary of information.

The Oxford-educated king is adored for pushing development and ushering in democratic reforms that established a constitutional monarchy and legislature in 2008. His teen-idol looks — slicked back hair, long sideburns — his penchant for evening bike rides through the streets and his reputation as a laid-back, accessible leader, also make him the rare monarch whose picture adorns the bedroom walls of teenage girls.

His bride, the daughter of a pilot, has been on an introductory tour of the remote villages of the nation since the king told Parliament in May, "It's now time for me to marry."

The remote nation began slowly opening up to the rest of the world in the 1960s. Foreigners and the international media were first admitted in 1974. Television finally arrived in 1999.

The country has not had a royal wedding since the fourth king held a mass ceremony in 1988 with his four wives — four sisters whom he had informally married years earlier. The current king says he will take only one wife, so the country is unlikely to see another such celebration for a long time.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow
    Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow

    The Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will have shorter hours tomorrow for the replacement of defective railroad tracks during the Holy Week. …

  • Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers
    Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers

    President Aquino has signed a joint congressional resolution raising the daily subsistence allowance for both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino signed last March 27 the merged Joint Resolution 2 of the Senate and Joint Resolution 26 of the House of Representatives. Speaking to reporters, Lacierda yesterday said the daily allowances of police officers and soldiers were raised from P90 …

  • Oil firms raise gas prices today
    Oil firms raise gas prices today

    This year’s Holy Week break will be accompanied by an increase in local pump prices after oil companies announced yesterday a P1.10 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.60 per liter for diesel effective today. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P1.10 per liter and diesel by P0.60 per liter effective 6 a.m. of March 31, 2015 to reflect the movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” said Phoenix Petroleum, an independent …

  • DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah
    DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah

    The Philippines has never offered to drop its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for Manila’s arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in explaining the DFA’s …

  • Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury
    Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury

    The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has remitted P5 billion in cash dividends to the National Treasury, fully settling all its arrears incurred in the last several years. Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said with this year’s remittance, the state-owned gaming firm has fully settled all remaining arrears in cash dividends that were incurred by the previous administration since 2005. Pagcor’s cash dividends to the National Treasury under its …

  • Maysak moves closer to Phl
    Maysak moves closer to Phl

    The typhoon with international name Maysak slightly accelerated as it moved closer to the Philippines yesterday, threatening to dump rains over eastern Luzon this weekend, the state weather bureau said. Rene Paciente, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Maysak was spotted at 2,175 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 1 p.m. yesterday. Paciente said based on their latest forecast, Maysak is likely to affect …

  • Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany
    Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany

    The Philippines is getting 41 million euros or around P2 billion from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of Germany that will fund 10 bilateral projects to address the impact of climate change. Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chairman Lucille Sering yesterday met with Norbert Gorissen – head of the International Climate Finance of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety – to discuss the projects, some of which will be …

  • Metro sizzles at 35º Celsius
    Metro sizzles at 35º Celsius

    While the start of the summer season has yet to be declared by the state weather bureau, Metro Manila experienced its hottest temperature so far this year at 35.1 degrees Celsius last Sunday. Rene Paciente, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), yesterday said the highest temperature was recorded around 3 p.m. at the Science Garden in Quezon City. Meanwhile, PAGASA recorded yesterday the hottest temperature in …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options