Palden Thondup Namgyal

Palden Thondup Namgyal (Sikkimese: དཔལ་ལྡན་དོན་དྲུཔ་རྣམ་རྒྱལ; Wylie: dpal-ldan don-grub rnam-rgyal) (23 May 1923 – 29 January 1982) was the 12th and last Chogyal (king) of the Kingdom of Sikkim.

Palden Thondup Namgyal
The 12th Chogyal
Palden Thondup Namgyal.jpg
Palden Thondup Namgyal in 1971
Chogyal of Sikkim
Reign2 December 1963 – 10 April 1975
Coronation4 April 1965
PredecessorTashi Namgyal
SuccessorMonarchy abolished
Born(1923-05-23)23 May 1923
Gangtok, Kingdom of Sikkim
Died29 January 1982(1982-01-29) (aged 58)
New York City, New York, U.S.
SpouseSamyo Kushoe Sangideki (1950–1957)
Hope Cooke (1963–1980)
IssuePrince Tenzing Kunzang Jigme Namgyal
Prince Tobgyal Wangchuk Tenzing Namgyal
Princess Yangchen Dolma Namgyal
Prince Palden Gyurmed Namgyal
Princess Hope Leezum Namgyal Tobden
A son
FatherTashi Namgyal
MotherKunzang Dechen


Namgyal was born on 23 May 1923 at the Royal Palace, Park Ridge, Gangtok.[citation needed]

At six, he became a student at St. Joseph's Convent in Kalimpong, but had to terminate his studies due to attacks of malaria. From age eight to eleven he studied under his uncle, Rimpoche Lhatsun, in order to be ordained a Buddhist monk; he was subsequently recognised as the reincarnated leader of both Phodong and Rumtek monasteries. He later continued his studies at St. Joseph's College in Darjeeling and finally graduated from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, in 1941. His plans to study science at Cambridge were dashed when his elder brother, the crown prince, a member of the Indian Air Force was killed in a plane crash in 1941.

Namgyal served as adviser for internal affairs for his father, Sir Tashi Namgyal, the 11th Chogyal, and led the negotiating team which established Sikkim's relationship to India after independence in 1949. He married Samyo Kushoe Sangideki in 1950, a daughter of an important Tibetan family of Lhasa, and together they had two sons and a daughter. Samyo Kushoe Sangideki died in 1957.

King and Queen of Sikkim, 1966

In 1963, Namgyal married Hope Cooke, a 22-year-old American socialite from New York City; she was a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers in the state of New York. The marriage brought worldwide media attention to Sikkim. The couple, who had two children, divorced in 1980.

Shortly after Namgyal's marriage, his father died and he was crowned the new Chogyal on an astrologically favourable date in 1965. In 1975[further explanation needed], the Prime Minister of Sikkim appealed to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become a state of India. In April of that year, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok and disarmed the Chogyal's palace guards. Namgyal was deposed after a referendum on 14 April 1975 resulted in the abolition of the monarchy and Sikkim becoming a state of India.[1]

In November 1976, Namgyal allegedly attempted suicide by consuming barbiturates and was airlifted to IPGMER and SSKM Hospital.[2] He was successfully treated by Professor Dr. Amal Kumar Bose, Head of the Department of Anesthesia and Respiratory Care Unit at the SSKM hospital.[3]

Namgyal died of cancer at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, United States on 29 January 1982. He was 58 years old at the time of his death.[4] Upon his death, 31 members of the State Legislative Assembly offered khadas to the Chogyal as a mark of respect.

Other interestsEdit

King and Queen of Sikkim and their daughter watch birthday celebrations, Gangtok, Sikkim in May 1971

Namgyal was an amateur radio operator, call-sign AC3PT, and was a highly sought after contact on the airwaves. The international callbook listed his address as: P.T. Namgyal, The Palace, Gangtok, Sikkim.

He financed the documentary Sikkim (1971) by Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray.[5]


Namgyal shaped a "model Asian state" where the literacy rate and per capita income were twice as high as neighbours Nepal, Bhutan and India.[6][unreliable source?]

His first son, the former crown prince Tenzing Kunzang Jigme Namgyal, died in 1978 in a car accident.[7] His second son from his first marriage, Tobgyal Wangchuk Tenzing Namgyal, was named the 13th Chogyal, but the position no longer confers any official authority.


  • 1923–1941: Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal.
  • 1941–1947: Maharajkumar Sri Panch Palden Thondup Namgyal.
  • 1947–1953: Maharajkumar Sri Panch Palden Thondup Namgyal, OBE.
  • 1953–1963: Lieutenant-Colonel Maharajkumar Sri Panch Palden Thondup Namgyal, OBE.[8]
  • 1963–1965: Lieutenant-Colonel His Highness Muwong Chogyal Sri Panch Chempo Palden Thondup Namgyal, Maharaja Chogyal of Sikkim, OBE.
  • 1965–1982: Major-General His Highness Muwong Chogyal Sri Panch Chempo Palden Thondup Namgyal, Maharaja Chogyal of Sikkim, OBE.


(ribbon bar, as it would look today)

  •   Kingdom of Sikkim:
    •   Order of the Precious Jewel of the Heart of Sikkim (Founder), September 1972

  •     Nepal
    •   King Mahendra Investiture Medal, 2 May 1956
    •   King Birendra Investiture Medal, 24 February 1975

  •   Bhutan
    •   King Jigme Singye Investiture Medal, 2 June 1974[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ G. T. (1 March 1975), "Trouble in Sikkim", Index on Censorship, 4: 68–69, doi:10.1080/03064227508532403, S2CID 220927214
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Palden Thondup Namgyal, Deposed Sikkim King, Dies". New York Times. 30 January 1982. Retrieved 17 September 2014. The deposed King of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, who had been undergoing treatment for cancer in New York, died last night from complications following an operation at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He was 58 years old. A family spokesman said his body was to be flown home to Sikkim for the funeral. ...
  5. ^ Robinson, Andrew (1989). "26 Documentaries". Satyajit Ray: the inner eye. University of California Press. p. 275. ISBN 0-520-06946-3. Sikkim documentary -inpublisher:icon.
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 15 August 1953. p. 185.
  9. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  10. ^ Final Programmes for The Coronation and The Silver Jubilee Celebration

External linksEdit

Palden Thondup Namgyal
Born: 23 May 1923 Died: 29 January 1982
Regnal titles
Preceded by Chogyal of Sikkim
2 December 1963 – 1975
Title abolished
Sikkim accession to India
Titles in pretence
New title — TITULAR —
Chogyal of Sikkim
10 April 1975 – 29 January 1982
Succeeded by