Bhutan has a new king
The small Himalayan nation of Bhutan crowned its new king in a ritual that saw thousands trek from snowy villages to the capital, Thimphu.
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck today became the world`s youngest reigning monarch and head of the newest democracy, Bhutan.
The fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck handed the Bhutan`s Raven Crown to his eldest son in an ornate coronation ceremony at the Golden Throne Room at Tashichhodzong, a fortress that is now the seat of the government.
Soon after sunrise the king’s family and other public figures arrived as monks played drums, cymbals and conventional wind instruments from the roof of the Dzong to ward off evil spirits.
The President of India, Pratibha Patil, attended the coronation along with India’s Congress Party leader, Sonia Gandhi.
Thousands of Bhutanese have flocked to Thimphu, among them nomadic yak herders. “We have walked for more than a week to come to the celebrations,” said Dema, 32, a woman herder. “The King is like our father.”
Unlike other monarchs, the new king and his father are known to be very popular as they join with the commoners and even walk down city and village streets.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, however, would not have the same supreme powers as his predecessors – Bhutan held its first parliamentary elections in March making a historic shift from 100-year-old monarchy to democracy.
King Khesar is known as a keen basketball player and his good looks have won hearts across north-east India and south-east Asia. Educated at Oxford University, he retains strong links with Britain.