Royal Wedding in the Happiest Country on Earth
Among Buddhist monks' chants in the beautiful Himalayan valley, the young King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, married his fiancée, Jetsun Pema, in a traditional ceremony on Thursday, October 13, 2011, in the ancient capital city of Punakha. After the purification ceremony and prayers, King Jigme Khesar crowned Jetsun Pema his queen. The first royal wedding in Bhutan since the late '80s, the event was also the first to be broadcast live there — as television is still a relatively new technology in Bhutan.
The 31-year old King studied in the United States at Phillips Andover Academy and Wheaton College in Massachusetts before graduating from Oxford University with a Political Science degree. An avid basketball player, he is also an Elvis Presley fan and interested in the fine arts.
The Queen is the 21-year old daughter of a former airline pilot who belongs to an elite Bhutanese family. Like King Jigme Khesar, she is also pursuing a degree in International Relations, Psychology and Art History at Regent College, London, UK.
Addressing the parliament earlier this year, the king announced his wedding — saying that while Jetsun Pema is young, "She is warm and kind in heart and character. These qualities, together with the wisdom that will come with age and experience, will make her a great servant to the nation."
Bhutan is the only country that considers the happiness of its people as important as economic development. In 1972 the former king devised the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, which uses physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality for measuring overall happiness. The current king became the first Consitutional King in 2008, after his father formally abdicated the throne in 2006 to usher in democratic reforms.
King Jigme Khesar is said to be very much loved by his people for being accessible, instituting land reforms and promoting economic development and democracy in the country.
Watch highlights from the colorful wedding ceremony in the Associated Press video below: