Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (Dzongkha: འཇིགས་མེད་གེ་སར་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་དབང་ཕྱུག་, Wylie: jigs med ge sar rnam rgyal dbang phyug; born 21 February 1980) is Druk Gyalpo or "Dragon King" of the Kingdom of Bhutan. After his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne in his favour, he became the monarch on 9 December 2006. A public coronation ceremony was held on 6 November 2008, a year that marked 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan.
|Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck|
|Dragon King of the Kingdom of Bhutan|
|Reign||9 December 2006–present|
|Coronation||6 November 2008|
|Predecessor||Jigme Singye Wangchuck|
|Heir apparent||Crown Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck|
|Born||21 February 1980|
Thapathali, Kathmandu, Nepal
|Issue||Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck|
Prince Jigme Ugyen Wangchuck
|Father||Jigme Singye Wangchuck|
Early life and educationEdit
Khesar was born 21 February 1980 at Kathmandu. He is the eldest son of the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and his third wife, Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon. He has a younger sister, Princess Ashi Dechen Yangzom, and brother, Prince Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji, as well as four half-sisters and three half-brothers.
After completing his higher secondary studies at Yangchenphug High School, Khesar was educated in the United States at Phillips Academy in Andover and at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, where he finished high school. He then studied at Wheaton College in Massachusetts before completing the Diplomatic Studies Programme at Magdalen College, Oxford.
The Crown Prince, popularly known to the people of Bhutan as 'Dasho Khesar', accompanied his father on his many tours throughout the Kingdom to meet and speak to the people. He also officially represented Bhutan on several international events. On 8 May 2002, he represented Bhutan at the 27th UN General Assembly and made his first speech to the United Nations, addressing issues related to the welfare of millions of children around the world. He attended Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 60th Anniversary Celebrations on 12–13 June 2006 in Bangkok along with royals from 25 countries.
On 31 October 2004, Khesar was installed as the 16th Trongsa Penlop in Trongsa Dzong. The institution of the Trongsa Penlop, started by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1647, signifies the true heritage to the Bhutanese Throne and the investiture ceremony of the Trongsa Penlop is the formal declaration of this status of the Crown Prince.
Ascension to the throneEdit
In December 2005, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced his intention to abdicate in his son's favour in 2008, and that he would begin handing over responsibility to him immediately. On 9 December 2006, the former King issued a Royal Edict announcing his abdication, and transferred the throne to Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who was officially crowned on 6 November 2008, in Punakha. Religious ceremonies and public celebrations were also held at Tashichho Dzong and Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu. The coronation ceremony comprised an ancient and colourful ritual, attended by few selected foreign friends of the royal family and dignitaries, including the then-President of India, Pratibha Patil.
To welcome Khesar as King of Bhutan, people painted street signs, hung festive banners and decorated traffic circles with fresh flowers. He received white, yellow, red, green, and blue silk scarves.
As he opened the session of parliament on Friday, 20 May 2011, the King announced his engagement to Jetsun Pema, born in Thimphu on 4 June 1990. They were married on 13 October 2011 in Punakha Dzong. The wedding was Bhutan's largest media event ever. The ceremony was held in Punakha, followed by formal visits to different parts of the country. During the ceremony the King also received the Phoenix Crown of the Druk Gyaltsuen (Dragon Queen) from the most sacred Machhen temple of the Dzong and bestowed it on Jetsun Pema, formally proclaiming her Queen of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The wedding was held in traditional style with the "blessings of the guardian deities".
On 11 November 2015, it was announced that the King and Queen of Bhutan were expecting their first child, a son, early in 2016. They announced the arrival of their son Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, who was born in Lingkana Palace in Thimphu, on 5 February 2016.
On 17 December 2019, it was reported that they were expecting their second child, to be born in Spring 2020. Their second son was born in Lingkana Palace in Thimphu on 19 March 2020. They formally uploaded the photo of their second son on 31 March 2020, through the official Facebook page. On 30 June 2020, the Royal Family announced that the second Gyalsey had been named Jigme Ugyen Wangchuck, and would be known as His Royal Highness Gyalsey Ugyen Wangchuck.
The young king began his reign overseeing the democratization of Bhutan by presiding over the last sessions of the parliament where electoral laws, land reform and other important issues were debated. He said that the responsibility of this generation of Bhutanese was to ensure the success of democracy. He traveled extensively to explain and discuss the Draft Constitution of Bhutan with the people and to encourage participation in the upcoming democratic exercises. He continues such visits, speaking mainly to young people on the need for Bhutanese to strive for higher standards in education, business, civil service, and the need for people of a small country to work harder than those of others.
On 17 February 2021, he signed the abolishment of anti-homosexuality laws into law, effectively decriminalising same-sex activity in the kingdom, after the repeal of such laws had been approved by both houses in 2020. Tashi Tsheten, of the LGBT organization Queer Voices of Bhutan welcomed the king's decision as a milestone and expressed gratitude to the king and every politician involved in making the decriminalization possible. Additionally, Tea Braun of the organisation Human Dignity Trust said that Bhutan had made a "step forward" by legalising homosexual activity.
The King signed a new treaty of friendship with India in February 2007, replacing the treaty of 1949. Many government initiatives were undertaken by the new King with a view to strengthen the system in preparation for the democratic changes in 2008. The Constitution of Bhutan was adopted on 18 July 2008 by the first elected parliament.
The King's first landmark project after his formal coronation was launching the National Cadastral Resurvey in March 2009, aimed at resolving long-standing issues of excess land that affect every Bhutanese household. A variation of land reform focuses on improving the lives of people living in remote and difficult areas, with the Rehabilitation Project. The pilot Rehabilitation Project at Khinadang in Pemagatshel was initiated in June 2011, and inaugurated by Prince Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck on 28 October 2014. The Project resettled people living in less accessible areas to villages, and provided them with basic amenities and services, as well as support in agriculture. The project saw tremendous success, and similar projects are in the pipeline in other parts of Bhutan.
One of the most important and ongoing works of the King involves Kidu, a tradition based on the rule of a Dharma King whose sacred duty is to care for his people. The people can access Kidu in several ways: by applying to the Office of the Royal Chamberlain, which accepts applications during working hours; by sending applications through Dzongkhag Kidu Officers in every district, whose responsibility is to collect such applications as well as identify people who need help; and by appealing to the King directly. To give the people the opportunity for direct appeal, the King on his numerous road trips across the country stops for every potential appellant along the road.
There are several Kidu schemes designed to help certain groups of people, such as students unable to afford even the free education available in the country, elderly citizens, and those requiring medical treatment. The King has also continued the tradition of giving state land to landless farmers around the country. The ongoing project takes him to remote villages and communities. Kidu includes providing immediate assistance to victims of natural disasters. The King personally supervised the rebuilding efforts following major earthquakes and floods in 2009 and 2011.
In 2012, the King granted Nu.100 million from the Armed Forces to the Zhung Dratshang for the Dzong Reconstruction Fund, as on 24 June, the historic Wangduephodrang Dzong was destroyed by fire. As Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, he commanded the armed forces and De-Suups to the site immediately, and with help from dzongkhag officials and citizens, many things were saved from the fire.
DeSuung Training ProgrammeEdit
The King initiated military-style training for volunteers known as the DeSuung Training Programme, DeSuung meaning “Guardians of Peace”, in 2011, on the request of the youth. The programme aims to equip volunteers with the skill to provide assistance during emergencies, and has been hugely successful, with more than 3000 volunteers having completed their training and volunteering for public events and emergencies. Graduates of the program are known as DeSuups and wear orange jumpsuits. They live by the DeSuung Honour Code, which is to “keep service to their nation before their own safety and comfort”.
Gyalsuung National ServiceEdit
In December 2019, during the 112th National Day, the King announced the initiation of one-year National Service for all 18 years old starting from 2022. The training will include a 3 months military-style training and a 9-month educational course on agriculture, entrepreneurship, computers, coding and health sciences.
The Constitution of Bhutan empowers the King to grant amnesty to prisoners. In 2014 he pardoned 45 prisoners who had been imprisoned for possessing an excessive amount of tobacco, following an amendment of the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010 by the Parliament of Bhutan, since the amended law could not be enforced retroactively, and previous offenders who would not be liable now would still be tried under previous laws. The Royal Pardon was granted to those who were not repeat offenders and had good prison records.
Public perception and popularity abroadEdit
The "People's King", like his father, enjoys exceptionally warm relations with India. He has visited India on several occasions, and was invited as the Chief Guest for India's 64th Republic Day celebrations in 2013.
In November 2011, the King and Queen Jetsun Pema made a state visit to Japan; they were the first state guests to Japan since the 2011 earthquake. It was reported that the Japanese were fascinated by the King and Queen of Bhutan.
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