Year 2011 is the year for royal weddings around globe. Having recently witnessed the marriage of British Prince William and Kate Middleton, watchers are anxiously awaiting matrimony of Monaco’s Prince Albert with Charlene Wittstock and Zara Phillips (the daughter of Britain’s Princess Anne) with Mike Tindall this July.
In line came the king of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk, until recently named as prince charming by global media, who is getting his queen this October.
Following his intention to marry 10 years young college girl Jetsum Pema, announced during the opening session of the parliament on May 20, international media claimed King Khesar is marrying a commoner. I tried exploring if this young king challenged the Wangchuk tradition by marrying a commoner. My observation does not say so.
Art student Pema comes from Bumthang. In very rare cases, the members of the Wangchuk family have turned out of Bumthang for matrimonial relations.
Pema is granddaughter of the legendary Thinley Topgay, popularly called ‘Sey Dophola’ and second eldest child of the five children born to Sonam Choki and Dhondup Gyaltshen.
Dhondup Gyaltshen, a pilot for 22 years with Druk Air, is the son of Brigadier Ugen Dorji Tangbi from Tangsibji, Trongsa and Aum Karma Yangzom. Yangzom is the daughter of Trashigang Dzongpon Thinley Topgay. Currently Gyaltshen works with Bahrain Airways.
Aum Sonam Choki is the daughter of Thinley Namgyal (of Pangtoe Goemba in Bumthang) and Aum Rinchen (of Chorten Nyinpo-Chumbi at Chumey in Bumthang). In fact she is illegitimate daughter of Prince Namgyel Wangchuck (brother of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk) and Thinley Namgyal is the half brother of their late majesties, Mayum Phuntsho Choden and Mayum Pema Dechan.
This complex network shows that Pema has relation with the Wangchuk family as well. Traditionally, such relations do not matter much for matrimonial relations in most royalties – Bhutan is not an exception.
It would be the matter of interest for readers to look behind the curtains. We cannot avoid possibility of King Khesar’s other relationship. As prince, Khesar was centre of attraction for girls during his visit to Thailand in 2006 to attend King Bhumibol’s sixtieth anniversary.
The most popular Thai web forum (pantip.com) and newspaper (Thai Rath) both printed a picture, showing Khesar and an un-named woman in a park. Thai Rath captioned it “Crown Prince Jigme Girlfriend [sic.] From Bhutan paparazzi”. Shortly after that Department of Special Investigation of the Thai police imposed a ban on any further circulation of the image, though how they intend to enforce this remains unclear. The photo remains in suspicion to this day.