There was clapping and cheering as Bhutan's charismatic 'Dragon King' gave his new queen a kiss on the cheek while presenting her to 30,000 spectators at Changlimithang stadium in Thimpu.But there was more to come for the delighted well-wishers who had turned out to congratulate "the William and Kate of the Himalayas".
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In this culture steeped in ancient tradition, public displays of affection are not commonplace. But times are clearly changing.When the 31-year-old monarch asked his people if he should go one step futher and give his nervous-looking Queen Jetsun Pema a peck on the lips – the excited crowd roared a resounding "yes".So he obliged, planting another tender kiss on the stunning 21-year-old, an airline pilot's daughter.Watching on were the four 'Queen Mothers' – four sisters who King Jigme's father, the fourth Dragon King, married – and all began clapping and cheering wildly.The touching and intimate moment – so removed from the solemnity of the deeply formal event, is typical of the thoroughly modern couple.King King Jigme Khesar Namgel Wangchuck and his bride have charmed the country with their accessible nature and their open adoration."He really loves her," said a 16-year-old reveller."Wherever he goes, he holds her hand. Now young people are starting to copy."
Earlier in the week they wed in a five-hour Buddhist ceremony for which the groom wore an antique silk gho robe that his grandfather King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had worn on his own big day.His long-term love Jetsun, meanwhile, slipped into gold-embroidered, hand-crafted shoes for each of her three costume changes.The culmination of the celebration was the moment King Jigme placed a silk brokade crown on his true love's head and proclaimed her the new queen of Bhutan.
The brocade-embroidered crown depicts two Ja Tsherings or Phoenix birds which symbolise the blissful relationship between the king and the queen.And the cornerstone of their harmony is their mutual devotion to their people.The newlyweds have no plans for a honeymoon for this very reason – as they explained to a foreign journalist who had the pleasure to meet them on their 11-hour walkabout."No," anwered the King as to the question of whether he and the queen would be taking a post-wedding break."We start working right after the day we were married," he said. "And if we travel we'll travel around the country. We like to meet more people."