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Young royal ascends to throne in Bhutan

A new era dawned on the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan when young and charismatic royal Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was crowned as its fifth King at a lavish ceremony in Thimpu.

world Updated: Nov 06, 2008 14:14 IST

A new era dawned on the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan when young and charismatic royal Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was crowned as its fifth King on Thursday at a lavish ceremony in Thimpu which was attended by President Pratibha Patil and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The 28-year-old Oxford-educated bachelor took over as head of state of the world's newest democracy and in the process became the world's youngest reigning monarch.

Monks of the 'Zhung Dratshang (Central Monk Body)' performed the 'Lhasang Tashi Raykong (insense offering to the guardian deities)' in the Royal Altar Room adjacent to the Chamber of the Golden Throne, providing the perfect setting for the solemn occasion in the presence of dignitaries from 32 countries.

In an ancient ritual in the white-walled palace overlooking the Thimphu valley, Wangchuck was handed over the Raven Crown by his father and outgoing king Jigme Singhe Wangchuck, who abdicated the throne two years ago in 2006.

The deeply revered 52-year-old former king decided to step down as part of his vision of reforming and modernising the traditional and insular nation by ending absolute royal rule over the nation of some six lakh people.

The historic event at Tashichhodzong, a fortress that is now the seat of the government, was also attended by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The royal family gave special importance to Sonia Gandhi, her children Rahul and Priyanka and Priyanka's husband Robert Vadra, who stood in the front row meant for members of the royal family.

The Gandhis have been invited by Bhutan's royal family as they share a friendship that spans decades right from the time India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Bhutan riding a yak nearly half a century ago.