Bhutan: The Coronation of a New King
This post came to us courtesy of Patagonia Pro, Matt Holmes. Matt is the president of adventure travel company Boundless Journeys, which specializes in active and unique small group adventures to hidden corners of our world. While the majority of Americans were marinating in their own historic moment this past November, Matt was bearing witness to a much-less-publicized but--for this culture--far more techtonic shift of power.
"I will never rule you as a King…I shall always serve you, day and night, in the spirit of kindness, justice and equality."
– King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
I was recently honored to be invited to a very special
occasion in the Kingdom of Bhutan. While many
Americans were celebrating a change of government in the
[The Raven Crown on the Dragon King. All photos: Steve Holmes]
At exactly 8:31 a.m., former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, 52, placed the Raven Crown on the head of his son, 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, giving him the title of Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King. The elder Wangchuck, who was crowned in 1974, announced two years ago that he would be abdicating in favor of his Oxford-educated son as part of reforms yielding much of the monarchy’s power and transforming the country into a democracy. Although the son has been effectively acting as King since December 2006, the coronation was delayed as court astrologers waited for an auspicious date.
The young monarch, who is the fifth king of Bhutan, was crowned at the Chamber of the Golden
Throne in the Thimphu Dzong (Fort-Monastery), in the capital city of Thimpu
The new king has pledged to maintain his father’s unique philosophy of improving “Gross National Happiness,” and not the common economic indicators, to ensure well-being in the “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” The transition in the country’s leadership might bring new changes to the country where people have lived secluded lives from the outside world. It was only at the coronation of the last king in 1974 that foreign dignitaries and the media were allowed into Bhutan for the first time. Foreigners are still restricted, with only 20,000 tourists allowed in each year.