Bhutan Crowns 28-Year-Old King

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck heads newly democratic Himalayan nation
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2008 2:39 PM CST
Traditionally attired Bhutanese dancers perform during the coronation ceremony of the fifth King of Bhutan.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Bhutan, the world’s youngest democracy, has its youngest monarch today, with 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck crowned king, the Telegraph reports. Reformist King Jigme Singye passed on the title on the heels of this year’s first-ever parliamentary elections. “What is important to me are the hopes and aspirations of the people and a long, healthy life for my father,” the Western-educated heir said.

The new king promised to uphold his father’s idea of measurement of “Gross National Happiness,” one of many royal attempts to balance change with tradition in the tiny Buddhist country in the Himalayas. Most Bhutanese actually opposed March’s elections, and efforts to open Bhutan to the world are mitigated with national dress codes and bans on public smoking.