Against a background of intrigue and planned assassination, the youngest monarch in the world, King Jigme Singhi Wangohuk, was formally installed as ruler of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan on Sunday (7 June).
Against a background of intrigue and planned assassination, the youngest monarch in the world, King Jigme Singhi Wangohuk, was formally installed as ruler of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan on Sunday (7 June). Only 24 hours before, the Bhutan people had been told of a plot to assassinate their new 18 year-old ruler.
The Government Bulletin, which is the State's only newspaper, had reported on Saturday that 30 people, including the Deputy Home Affairs Minister - and the Commandant of the Royal Bhutan Police - had been arrested in connection with the plot, which had been uncovered in March.
Nevertheless, the ancient and colourful installation ceremony took place without a hitch in the Throne Room of the Tashichho Dzong - the building which houses both the Government Secretariat and the country's chief Buddhist monastery in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. Hundreds of Bhutan's population of just over a million flocked into Thimpu from surrounding villages for the Buddhist celebrations.
For the occasion, the capital had been re-decorated and a stadium and hotel had been specially built at the cost of nearly GBP 2 million (approximately 4.2 million dollars). The flag-bedecked streets were lined with Lamas (monks) and officials, some of them in medieval helmets reminiscent of Ghengis Khan's warriors. Dancers and singers in red and blue costumes, performed in the courtyard of the Dzong.
The King sat on a gilded throne for the ceremony, dressed in the traditional Bhutanese Kho - a multi-coloured plaid of Knee-length silk. He also were a yellow scarf, wound toga-like around his shoulders, and black boots.
It was the first time that Bhutan had opened its doors to the outside world on such a scale, and ad well as photographers and journalists, there were more than 150 guests from some 20 countries. King Jigme Singhi is fourth in line of the Wangohuk dynasty, and succeeds his father, King Jigme Dorji, who died in July 1972.
As the young monarch approached the Dzong, guns boomed out over a nearby valley. The Head Lama handed him a ceremonial white scarf as he entered the courtyard. Beneath a large silk painting hung on the ??? wall of the old tower, was placed an alter carved out of butter - an old Tibetan art form.
The King and the Head Lama stood side by side on a raised platform while the religious leader chanted prayers, then both went inside the Dzong to the Throne Room on the second floor.
Among the guests at the rarely seen ceremony, was the eighty-year-old President of India, Mr. V. V. Giri. He had been carried to the ceremony in a sedan chair. Also present was President Mohammadullah of Bangladesh, Prince Dhirendra, the younger brother of the King of Nepal, The Chogyan of Sikkim and the ambassadors of the United States, the Soviet Union, The People's Republic of China, France and Britain.