Bhutan`s newlywed Royal Couple `walks` to capital

Last Updated: Friday, October 14, 2011 - 21:01

Thimphu: Bhutan`s newly married Royal Couple
waded through a sea of people during their 11-hour journey
on day from the ancient city of Punakha to capital Thimphu,
covering most of the 71 km distance by foot, as people lined
up along the road to give them a rousing reception.

31-year-old Oxford-educated King Jigme Khesar Namgyel
Wangchuck and his Indian-educated Queen Jetsun Pema got down
from their car every five minutes and walked along with their
subjects who had gathered to catch a glimpse of them.

After a simple yet spectacular wedding ceremony in a
stunning 17th century monastic fortress in Punakha yesterday,
the couple emerged from their Palace at 7.30 AM and were seen
off to the capital by Je Khenpo, the chief Buddhists priest.

The King, adored by his subjects for his simplistic
nature, mingled freely with the people, hugging and kissing
many of those who queued up on either side of the hilly
terrain road from Punakha.

Wangchuck, who had to skip his lunch to make time for the
people, humbly accepted gifts from them and even stopped at
times to speak to them.

His return to the capital with his wife was so awaited
that people had lined up along the road for over five hours.

"Many a times, the King got down from his vehicle and
walked along with the people. He likes spending time with
people," Kinley Dorji, Secretary Ministry of Information and
Communication, said.

"Most of the journey is being covered by foot. People are
lined up across the way. He did not want to drive past them.
That is why he took so much of time," he said.

The journey from Punakha to Thimphu, which usually takes
three hours by car, took more than 11 hours for the Royal
Couple.

When the royal convoy came near to them, the Bhutanese
cheered and welcomed the King and the Queen with folded hands.

Once the Royal Couple reciprocated their gestures, the
people jostled with each other to present a white scarf,
considered as a mark of respect, to them. At least 25,000
people were present in Thimphu alone to greet the couple.

Bhutanese national flags, scarves of five colours and
pictures of a handsome Wangchuck and an elegant Pema holding
each other`s hand adorn roads, homes, hotels and government
offices across the capital.

The celebrations will be held at a spectacular stadium
here tomorrow where audience would be treated to traditional
songs and dances.

Congress Party General-Secretary Rahul Gandhi, a special
invitee of Wangchuck, will also attend the celebrations.
"Thousands of people lined up during the journey to
welcome the King. It is an historical occasion," Dorje
Wangchuk, Director of the Royal Office of Media, said.

This is not the first time that King Wangchuck is being
accorded a rousing reception by the people. A similar kind of
frenzy was witnessed during his journey from the capital to
Punakha after Wangchuck was coronated as the fifth king of the
tiny Himalayan Kingdom in November 2008.

The Wangchuck dynasty, which has been ruling Bhutan for
the past 100 years, is much revered by the people of the
Kingdom.

PTI



First Published: Friday, October 14, 2011 - 21:01

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