Raven crown for world’s youngest king in Bhutan

November 5th, 2008 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilThimphu, Nov 5 (IANS) The sound of the gong accompanied by lamas chanting religious hymns would reverberate in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu Thursday when 29-year-old Oxford educated Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck would be formally crowned the fifth king of the Himalayan kingdom.Wangchuck is all set to become the world’s youngest monarch and head of the state of the youngest democracy after the coronation ceremony.

“Everybody in Bhutan is eagerly waiting for the coronation ceremony as it means a lot to the people. Despite being a democracy now, the monarchy enjoys tremendous respect, goodwill, and confidence,” Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley told journalists.

The coronation ceremony takes place at the imposing Golden Throne Room at Tashichhodzong, a fortress that is now the seat of the government, where the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck would anoint his eldest son with the Raven Crown of Bhutan.

The royal family apart, Indian president Pratibha Patil, and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, besides a host of foreign dignitaries are expected to witness the coronation ceremony.

The traditional ceremony with Buddhist rituals would be followed by felicitations in the afternoon by over 20,000 people.

“The mood is jubilant and everybody is patiently waiting for the grand coronation,” said Pema Dorji, a community elder, in Thimphu.

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) will be releasing new currency notes of 1,000 and 50 Ngultrum denominations to mark the occasion. The new notes bear the portrait of the new king.

Bhutan will enjoy three days of national celebrations following Thursday’s ceremony.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, however, would not have the same absolute powers as his predecessors - Bhutan held its first parliamentary elections earlier this year making a historic shift from a 100-year-old monarchy to democracy.

The largely Buddhist kingdom of about 650,000 people grudgingly marched towards democracy after former king Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s sudden decision in December 2006 to abdicate the throne in favour of his eldest son and announce parliamentary elections to change with the times and relinquish absolute rule.

Since then, palace officials have been waiting for an astrologically suitable day for the 52-year-old former king to place the crown on his son’s head and formally end his own rule.

The former king had set the process in 2001 for Bhutan’s transformation from an absolute monarch to a parliamentary democracy that led to the country having a new constitution.

The king is now head of state, but parliament would have the power to impeach him by a two-thirds vote.

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