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Bhutan's prince charming gets hitched

Last updated on: October 13, 2011 13:13 IST

Bhutan's prince charming gets hitched

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Bhutan's much-publicised royal wedding that will see King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck tying the nuptial knot with his childhood sweetheart Jetsun Pema began on Thursday morning amid chanting of hymns by Buddhist monks in the historical city of Punakha.

Thousands of Bhutanese, including children and women, started thronging the ground near the stunning 17th century fortress in this ancient city, 71 km from capital Thimphu, from various parts of the tiny Himalayan hingdom as early as 5 am (local time), braving intense cold.

Majority of the 71 lakh population remained glued to their television sets to watch the wedding ceremony which was being telecast live on Bhutan Broadcasting Service TV.

The elaborate wedding ceremony, which is being conducted according to Bhutanese Buddhist traditions, began at 4 am with the initiation of special prayers by 100 monks led by His Holiness Je Khenpo, the head monastic preceptor.


Image: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck greets journalists after his marriage to Queen Jetsun Pema at the Punkaha Dzong in Bhutan's ancient capital Punakha
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters
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The dashing 31-year-old Oxford-educated Wangchuck emerged from his palace at around 8.20 am accompanied by Premier Jigmi Y Thinley and the chief of Bhutan Royal Police and proceeded straight to the large monastic fortress located between two rivers -- Fochu (Father River) and Mochu (Mother River).

Minutes later, a procession of over 100 people beating drums and chanting hymns brought the 21-year-old Royal Bride Pema to the palace through the wooden bridge to the palace where the ceremony is now taking place.

India, which shares traditional and civilization links with Bhutan, was officially represented by its Ambassador Pavan K Verma. West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan and Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia were also present at the ceremony.

After her arrival at the Dewa Chhen-Poi Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness), the would-be Queen lit a golden lamp, offered prayers and proceeded towards Wangchuck, whom she met for the first when she was seven during a family vacation.


Image: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema pose for pictures after their marriage at the Punkaha Dzong in Bhutan's ancient capital Punakha
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters
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After a few private ceremonies at the sacred shrine of the Most Holy Machhen, Pema will be crowned as the 'Queen of the Kingdom of Bhutan' following which the wedding ceremony would come to a close.

Later, the King and the Queen would join thousands of Bhutanese at the huge ground near the palace in celebrating the Royal Wedding by dancing and singing with their subjects.

Braving the chill, thousands of people climbed down the hill to Punakha hoping to catch a glimpse of the Royal Couple.

Guests including ambassadors of various countries in Bhutan and personal invitees of the King will be served a traditional Bhutanese lunch that will also have Indian items like roti.


Image: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his bride Jetsun Pema take part in a purification ceremony at the Punkaha Dzong during their wedding ceremony in Bhutan's ancient capital Punakha
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters
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Around 60 culinary experts from all 20 valleys of Bhutan have been engaged in preparing the food items for the guests.

After the wedding today, the Royal Couple will set out on road from Punakha to Thimphu on Friday and are likely to be welcomed by people through the way.

Known for his simplicity and soft-spoken nature, Wangchuck, who was coronated as King of Bhutan on November 6, 2008 after his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated and transferred the throne to him, likes to cycle across the capital and invite his subjects for a cup of tea, a thing which is uncommon with monarchies.


Image: A portrait of Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his bride Jetsun Pema is seen pictured in a roundabout in capital Thimphu
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters
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