William and Kate to visit Bhutan in spring, Palace says

  • This will be the first time the royal couple have visited Bhutan
  • Country nestles high in the Himalayas between India and China
  • Kate and William, both 33, will visit King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
  • His pregnant wife Jetsun Pema, 25, is due to give birth in Spring
  • Bhutan is a Buddhist country that measures wealth on happiness
  • Prince Charles and Prince Andrew have both visited country previously

She is known as the Dragon Queen and the most glamorous woman in the Orient.

He has been dubbed The Prince Charming of the Himalayas, a ruler with the populist touch who is known to invite his subjects into his home for tea and a chat.

And this spring the young King and Queen of Bhutan, dubbed the ‘William and Kate of the Orient’, will host the real Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on an official visit on behalf of the British Government.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be leaving their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, at home later this year as they make an official visit to Bhutan and India this spring

The hugely-anticipated visit will coincide with the couple’s previously announced tour of India and is likely to take place in April.

Revealed by Kensington Palace today it has already prompted much excitement in Bhutan (which means Land of the Thunder Dragon), a tiny and remote kingdom nestling in the Himalayas between India and China.

Although William and Kate are leaving their own children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, behind when they embark on the trip, there will no doubt be much baby banter as the Bhutanese rulers are expecting their first child, a son, in a matter of weeks.

Royal aides say the Duke and Duchess are looking forward to the trip – their first – to such a ‘fascinating’ country.

Almost completely cut off for centuries, Bhutan did not get television until 1999, so fearful were its autocratic rulers of its pernicious influence, and did not welcome foreign visitors in 1974.

But it is also known as one of the most content countries in the world and measures its GDP is not in terms of pounds and pence but ‘Gross National Happiness’.

The present king’s father abdicated in 2008 and in doing so gave up his absolute power in favour of democracy, leaving his son, Jigme, a symbolic head of state.


But despite being little more than a figurehead, the new king has emerged from the shadow of his revered father to inspire devotion from his 700,000 subjects.

Educated in India and the US, after which he studied for a degree in political science and economics at Oxford, where he was known as a quiet, studious and reliable type, he has made a point of walking the length and breadth of the country meeting as many of his subjects as possible.

The Elvis fan and keen mountain biker has also been known to invite citizens around to his modest cottage and listen to their concerns.

He married student Jetsun Pema in October 2011, when she was just 21 – but was said to have proposed to her when she was just seven.

According to reports, the royal couple met at a family picnic in the capital Thimphu when the prince was 17.

He was so moved by hear beauty and inner goodness, he got down on his knees and said ‘when you grow up, if I am single and not married and if you are single and not married, I would like you to be my wife, provided we still feel the same,’ he told a group of students shortly before their wedding.

They married in a five-hour Buddhist ceremony in a 17th fortress, the young bride wearing a traditional wraparound skirt and ornate shoes, surrounded by red-robed monks.

Her groom came down from his throne to meet her, wearing the red Raven Crown which symbolises his role as ‘the people’s protector’, and honoured his wife with a silk brocade crown (depicting two Ja Tsherings or Phoenix birds to symbolise the blissful relationship between the two) as he proclaimed her the new Queen of Bhutan.

Often dubbed the ‘William and Kate of the Himalayas’, the even indulged in a brief balcony kiss after the ceremony, just like the British Duke and Duchess had when they married earlier the same year.

When they married little was known about Jetsun, save that she was the daughter of an airline pilot who was education at the same secondary school as her future husband, albeit it at different times given their age difference.

She was captain of the school basketball team and someone who won prizes for public speaking, before spending some time in London where she studied international relations and, like Kate, she developed a keen interest in the arts.

Her family, however, has long enjoyed close links to the country’s ruling family. Her paternal great-grandfather was lord of the eastern province of Tashigang, and her maternal grandfather was the half-brother of the wife of Bhutan’s second king

Her delicate beauty and modest demeanour have already won the hearts of her people – and the arrival of the couple’s first child, in a few weeks’ time, will only seal her popularity.

Announcing the forthcoming royal visit yesterday, Kensington Palace said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will make an official visit to Bhutan this spring.

‘The visit is being carried out at the request of Her Majesty’s Government and will be the first time Their Royal Highnesses have visited the country.’

It was also announced that Prince Harry will make a trip to Nepal in the spring too.


In February 1998, the Prince visited Bhutan to to renew Britain’s long-standing relations and establish links with the Bhutanese Royal Family.

Those links still remain and in May 2011 the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall received The King and Queen of Bhutan, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema at their official residence in London, Clarence House.

The Duke of York visited the country in March 2010.

This is by no means the first overseas tour for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who visited Canada for the first time together soon after their wedding in 2011.

The official Royal visit to Canada on behalf of The Queen took in eight cities from 30th June to 8th July 2011. It was the third visit for The Duke and the first for Her Royal Highness.

In 2012, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge represented The Queen during Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee by visiting Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

On 7th April 2014, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George visited New Zealand and Australia as part of a three week tour.

In December 2014, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a three day visit to the USA where he attended events in support of St Andrew’s University and the British creativity industries in New York, and met President Obama and addresssed the World Bank on the issue of Conservation in Washington.

Pkt1453 - 052990 PRINCE CHARLES (LIFE TIME OF PICTURES BY PA) 1998 Prince Charles The Prince of Wales takes a short rest at a Buddhist prayer to paint a watercolour in the Bhutan Himalayas while trekking up to the Tigers nest monastry.
Prince Charles takes a short rest at a Buddhist prayer temple to paint a watercolour in the Bhutan Himalayas while trekking up to the Tigers nest monastery in 1998

Source/courtesy: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3390116/Duke-Duchess-Cambridge-leave-Prince-George-Princess-Charlotte-home-make-official-visit-Bhutan-India-spring.html

By Rebecca English for MailOnline and Bianca London for MailOnline

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