The “Dragon King” of Bhutan married the 21-year-old daughter of an airline pilot Thursday in a ceremony at which there was a notable lack of bizarre hats (like those seen earlier this year at the British royal wedding), but a great deal of color and stately beauty.
The new queen, Jetsun Pema, a student at London’s Regents College, had ordered several elaborate traditional national dresses, or kiras, from Bhutanese weavers. The one she wore was handwoven of raw silk. The crown that was perched on her head at the ceremony also was embroidered with silk. At one point, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck donned a crown adorned with a raven’s head.
The wedding took place in a 17th-century fortress-monastery in ancient Punakha, andPema was led into the courtyard for the ceremony by a procession of flag-bearers and scarlet-robed monks.
The king, 31 and a graduate of Oxford, was as brightly dressed as his bride, with an eye-grabbing yellow sash. If his hair and sideburns carried hints of latter-day Elvis Presley, there’s a good reason: Apparently, the king is a big fan of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
MSN India called the event a “watershed event for the Dragon Kingdom.” The tiny Himalayan nation has been transfixed by the wedding. As Reuters reports, TV was introduced there only in 1999, and the ceremony was broadcast live.
There’s a backstory, according to Reuters:
The royal couple apparently met when aged 17 and 7 respectively at a family picnic in Thimphu. The then-prince 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 students in August.
Despite the romantic tale, residents had come to view the king, who came to power in 2008 with the start of democracy in Bhutan, as a foot-dragger when it came to finding a wife. According to AlJazeera, the nation had grown increasingly “impatient with its king’s lack of urgency to tie the knot.”
And like Britain and Kate Middleton, Bhutan fell in love with Pema, whose “international looks” have been praised widely.
Pema is “perfectly cut out to be a queen,” one attendee told Al Jazeera.