In a country of astounding beauty, of soaring peaks and lush valleys, of ancient monasteries and fluttering prayer flags, the majority of the Bhutanese still live off the land, practicing subsistence farming. Yet, even in the most inaccessible hamlet, the most hardscrabble farmer would have caught a glimpse of His Majesty the King, if not shared a meal in his presence.
And there are two reasons for that.
The first being that is His Majesty is by far the most loved figure in the country. The second is because His Majesty has traversed the length and breadth of the country and knows every face he’s come across along with every nook and cranny like the back of his hand.
We compiled 10 interesting facts about His Majesty that we bet will fascinate, if not mystify, you.
- His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the fifth king of Bhutan. Known for his humble personality, his approachability and his popularity, he is lovingly called the People’s King in the country.
- Very few people know that is Majesty was born in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was born on February 21, 1980 to His Majesty the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and his third wife, queen mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon.
- Another less known fact about His Majesty is that he is a passionate gardener, an avid photographer, and a patron of the arts. He frequently supports writers and artists and often invites them to his palace in Thimphu.
- His Majesty, like all other royals in Bhutan and unlike other crown princes’ in the world, studied in a public school in Thimphu. It was only after completing his high school that he went on to pursue his education in the USA and then graduated from Magdalen College in Oxford University.
- His Majesty loves biking and cycling during his free time. Commoners often catch a glimpse of him meandering the winding roads of the capital on his motorbike or cycle. Most times, they are in for a pleasant surprise when he stops to talk to them.
- In 2008, at the age of 28, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck became the youngest reigning monarch in the world when he took over the throne.
- During the Coronavirus pandemic, His Majesty waived off interests on all loans for Bhutanese citizens. The banks are instead paid on account of the citizens through his personal funds. His Majesty has also set up a monthly fund to help affected individuals from all walks of life during the Covid-19 outbreak.
- His Majesty caused quite a sensation during his visit to Thailand in 2008, giving rise to a legion of female fans, that the Thai press dubbed him Prince Charming.
- On October 13, 2011, His Majesty the King married his sweetheart, a commoner, Queen Jetsun Pema in a traditional Bhutanese ceremony with dignitaries from all over the world in attendance. The Western press called the Royal couple the Will and Kate of the Himalayas.
- Every year since 2012, during the Paro Tshechu, the King has granted an audience to 12-year-old Kinley Gyaltshen, who is differently abled. His Majesty learnt that the boy had attended the tshechu, despite all the odds, just so he could be in the presence of the king. And, so, it has now become a yearly practice.