The fifth Dragon King of Bhutan, 31 year-old, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, married Jetsun Pema, a 21 year-old commoner, in a colorful and lavish Buddhist ceremony that was televised live to the small Himalayan nation of 700,000 people. The Bhutanese have been anticipating this event for five years, ever since the highly popular king was crowned. The King of Bhutan was educated in Oxford University, while his bride, whose beauty has captivated many, was educated in London and is studying International Relations. The wedding took place in a 17th century Buddhist monastery in the old capital of Punakha. Both bride and groom wore traditional dress in sumptuous colors. They sat on thrones in a room dominated by a giant golden Buddha. The couple sipped from a chalice containing a curd drink known as ambrosia, which symbolized eternal life. The bride looked demure and nervous throughout. But the King gave her a reassuring gesture after he crowned her, by placing his hands on her face and smiling broadly at her.
As a measure of progress, the nation of Bhutan subscribes to the mantra of “Gross National Happiness.” The Head of the Gross National Happiness commission declared that, “you can be sure that our happiness is increasing” thanks to the royal wedding. King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck describes his new wife as “a wonderful human being” with whom he shares “a love and passion for art.” The King also added, “I have been waiting for quite some time to get married. It doesn’t matter when you get married as long as it is to the right person. I am certain I am married to the right person.”