Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the fifth and present ‘Druk Gyalpo’ or the ‘Dragon King’ of the Kingdom of Bhutan since December 9, 2006. He succeeded his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who formally renounced the throne in favour of his son. A coronation ceremony was publicly held on November 1, 2008, a propitious year that marked the first centenary of Monarchy in Bhutan. He is a proponent of democracy and strives to achieve improved standards in civil service, education and business sectors and in this pursuit travels widely across Bhutan meeting and encouraging the youth. In February 2007, he signed a new friendship treaty with India in place of the 1949 treaty. He has supported many new government initiatives to empower the system keeping in view the democratic transformation. On July 18, 2008, his reign saw the first elected parliament adopting the ‘Constitution of Bhutan. He is the Chancellor of the ‘Royal University of Bhutan’. His Majesty is patron of several institutes and associations including ‘Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry’, ‘European Convention of Bhutan Societies’, ‘Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies’, ‘Bhutan Scouts Association’, ‘Bhutan India Friendship Association’ and ‘India Bhutan Foundation’.
Childhood & Early Life
His Majesty was born on February 21, 1980 to Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth ‘Dragon King’ of Bhutan, and his third wife, Queen Tshering Yangdon, as their eldest son. His younger brother is Prince Jigme Dorji and younger sister is Princess Dechen Yangzom. He has three half-brothers and four half-sisters.
He attended schools in Bhutan and completed his Higher Secondary studies from ‘Yangchenphug High School’ in Bhutan. Thereafter he went to Massachusetts and attended boarding schools. He first joined the ‘Phillips Academy’ there and later attended the ‘Cushing Academy’ from where he completed his graduation in 1999. He also studied at the ‘Wheaton College’ in Massachusetts.
He then moved to the United Kingdom and studied at the ‘Magdalen College’, ‘University of Oxford’ earning a degree in ‘Foreign Service Programme’ (FSP).
As the ‘Crown Prince’ (more popular as ‘Dasho Khesar’) he travelled around the Kingdom along with his father, the fourth and the then King of Bhutan, meeting and interacting with the people of the country.
Encouraged by his father, he travelled to different countries as the ‘Crown Prince’ and attended several international events representing Bhutan and its people.
He attended the ‘27th UN General Assembly’ held on May 8, 2002, on behalf of Bhutan. The ‘Crown Prince’ addressed the issue regarding welfare of children across the globe, in front of world leaders, in his first ever speech to the United Nations.
He was inducted as ‘Ponlop of Trongsa’ or the ‘Trongsa Penlop’ in Trongsa Dzong on October 31, 2004. It is a Dzongkha title bestowed to the heir apparent of the Monarchy of Bhutan. The title which means ‘Governor of the Province of Trongsa’ manifests true legacy to the throne of Bhutan and the induction ceremony formally conveys the status of the ‘Crown Prince’.
In 2005, he undertook a program at the ‘National Defence College’ in New Delhi, India and later did a year long leadership development program from the ‘Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration’.
From June 12 to 13, 2006, he participated at the ‘60th Anniversary Celebrations’ of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, which was attended by royals from several countries. The twenty six year old prince became a sensation, especially among female admirers, so much so that the Thai media gave him the epithet, ‘Prince Charming’.
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Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth and the then King of Bhutan, made an announcement in December 2005 intending to abdicate the throne in 2008 in favour of his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The fourth King declared that he would initiate to hand over responsibility to Khesar soon.
In this pursuit, Jigme Singye Wangchuck issued a Royal Edict on December 9, 2006, declaring his relinquishment and passed on the monarchy of Bhutan to Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who became the fifth King of Bhutan.
His official coronation was done in Punakha on November 1, 2008 in a grand coronation event, which was graced by the presence of thousands of dignitaries from around the world.
After taking over the reign, in pursuit of democratization of Bhutan, His Majesty started to preside over the parliament in its last sessions. Matters like land reform, electoral laws and other such significant subjects were assessed.
In his endeavour to interact with the people of Bhutan regarding the ‘Draft Constitution of Bhutan’ as also to encourage them to take part in the forthcoming democratic efforts, he toured widely across the nation.
He also strives in developing the civil service, education and business sectors and continues to tour to meet especially the younger generation to inspire them in building up an advanced nation.
In February 2007, His Majesty signed a new friendship treaty with India, thus replacing the one of 1949.
The first democratically elected parliament of Bhutan adopted the ‘Constitution of Bhutan’ under his reign on July 18, 2008.
In March 2009, the first significant project under his Monarchy, the ‘National Cadastral Resurvey’ was launched with the objective of addressing the issue of excess land, which concerns domestic life of all Bhutanese.
The landmark ‘Rehabilitation Project’, which was introduced in 2011 and commenced by his brother Jigme Dorji in October 2014, rehabilitated the people living in remote and inaccessible regions of Bhutan to villages. They were provided with essential amenities and services and also helped in their agricultural efforts.
He maintains the ancient tradition of ‘Kidu’ that manifests the reign of Dharma King who carries on his holy duty of taking care of the people. In this quest, he visits inaccessible villages and communities across Bhutan.
Bhutanese can approach ‘Kidu’ by sending applications to the ‘Office of the Royal Chamberlain’. Every district has a Dzongkhag Kidu Officer who is responsible to collect the applications of the people and appeal to His Majesty directly. The King can also be approached directly while on his road trips, when he meets probable appellants along the roadway.
‘Kidu’ schemes include providing educational aid to poor students, medical aid to senior citizens, state land to landless farmers and overseeing and assisting victims of natural disasters. Following the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes and floods, His Majesty himself had overseen the rehabilitation efforts of the victims.
‘DeSuung Training Programme’, a military style training programme was initiated by him in 2011 at the behest of the youth in view of acquiring skills to tackle emergencies. The programme has become immensely popular with over a thousand trained volunteers.
When the Wangduephodrang Dzong was devastated by fire on June 24, 2012, the King, in the capacity of ‘Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces’, directed the armed forces to the site and he himself visited the site within hours. He granted Nu.100 million for the ‘Dzong Reconstruction Fund’ from the Armed Forces.
Personal Life & Legacy
On October 13, 2011, he married Jetsun Pema in Punakha Dzong and bestowed her with the Crown of the Druk Gyaltsuen received from the sacred ‘Machhen Temple’ of the Dzong, thus formally proclaiming her as the ‘Queen of the Kingdom of Bhutan’.
On February 5, 2016, their son, ‘His Royal Highness The Gyalsey’ was born.