King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema greet villagers after their wedding in Bhutan's ancient capital Punakha October 13, 2011. Bhutan's "Dragon King" married a commoner in a Himalayan monastic fortress on Thursday, sipping a chalice of ambrosia symbolizing eternal life, in a wedding that has transfixed a reclusive kingdom slowly embracing globalization.Reuters

The king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, tied the nuptial knot with his longtime girlfriend in a traditional Buddhist ceremony Thursday.

The popular 28-year-old fifth "Dragon King" married 21-year-old Jetsun Pema at a stunning 17th-century fortress called Punakha, 71 km away from the capital city of Thimphu.

"King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck wore a crown adorned with a raven's head during the sumptuous ceremony in the fortress, as 21-year-old student Jetsun Pema, daughter of an airline pilot, received a crown embroidered with silk," reports Reuters.

The marriage ceremony was broadcast live to the nation of 700,000 people where television was introduced only in 1999.

Thousands of Bhutanese thronged in traditional dress outside the fortress, located between two rivers, Fochu and Mochu, where the royal wedding took place.

At around 8.20 a.m., King Wangchuk emerged from his palace accompanied by Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley and the Chief of Bhutan Royal Police and preceded straight to the large monastic fortress.

The bride, Pema, walked to the fortress followed by a procession of 100 people beating drums and chanting hymns.

The 21-year-old Pema, daughter of an airline pilot, did her higher secondary schooling in Himachal Pradesh's Sanawar School.

After a two-hour ceremony, King Wangchuck and Pema were declared husband and wife and posed for television and still cameras in a specially arranged room in the monastery.

Later, the king and the queen joined thousands of Bhutanese at the huge ground near the palace to  celebrate the royal wedding by dancing and singing with their subjects.

Meanwhile the guests, including envoys of various nations and personal invitees of the king, were served a traditional Bhutanese lunch that also included dishes from the Indian cuisine.

Around 60 culinary experts from all the 20 valleys of Bhutan have been engaged in preparing a lavish feast for the wedding guests.

The royal wedding was attended by around 300 guests, including the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Pavan K. Varma, West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan and members of the royal family.

According to media reports, after the wedding, the royal couple will set out on road from Punakha to Thimphu on Friday and are likely to be welcomed by people cheering along the way.

The 28-year-old Oxford-educated Wangchuck was crowned as the King of Bhutan on Nov. 6, 2008, when his father abdicated. The popular king is known for his simplicity and good administration.

Quick Links