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Coronation fever in Bhutan as people's king bonds with subjects

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The royal walkabout in Bhutan following Thursday's grand coronation ceremony was anything but typical. The festivities, extending over four days, saw the newly crowned King Jigme Khesar Namgyel, an Oxford-educated monarch and the world's youngest at age 28, warmly engaging with thousands of his subjects in person.

The celebrations unfolded in the capital city of Thimphu, within the vibrant environs of Changlimithang Stadium. A kaleidoscope of colors and festivities greeted the attendees, who reveled in traditional dance performances, engaging competitions like cap-snatching, and playful pillow fights over tubs of cold water. Amidst this lively atmosphere, the Dragon King, as he is now known, mingled effortlessly with the crowds. He was seen conversing with his people, often pausing to scoop up children in his arms—a gesture that symbolized his approachable and nurturing leadership.

This hands-on approach has become familiar to the Bhutanese ever since King Jigme Khesar Namgyel's father, Jigme Singye, abdicated the throne two years prior, initiating a transition towards democracy and a constitutional monarchy. In his address to the nation on Friday, the young king reinforced his commitment to his father’s legacy, particularly the philosophy of ‘Gross National Happiness’ that Bhutan is renowned for. With a promise that resonated deeply with his people, he declared, “Destiny has put me here. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother, and serve you as a son. I shall give you everything and keep nothing. This is how I shall serve you as king.”