A foreigner going through Bhutan’s generally unpredictable social media scene in the last few days could be forgiven for thinking that a son has been born into almost all Bhutanese homes. The outpouring of happiness was strong and spontaneous across all sections of society.
There was a strong sense of happiness that a Prince was born, followed by a sense of reassurance that continuity has been assured for an essential and popular Monarchy. A sense of relief was also palpable that the Royal birth went well and both His Royal Highness the Gyalsey and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen were in good health.
This strong outpouring of national happiness was also there around Bhutanese family dinner tables as a new and important member had been added to the larger Bhutanese family. A new member, who will follow in His Majesty the King’s footsteps to ensure continuity and happiness of the larger Bhutanese family.
It is only natural that the nation and its people have reacted in this enthusiastic and deeply personal way.
Of the many traits that make up the definition of being Bhutanese, the one that stands out the most is a sense of unity akin to a large family.
This large family has its differences, characters, likes and dislikes and even its own intricate politics, but the family remains united and ready to help each other at all times. There is an abiding generosity of spirit and a sense of national kinship that transcends various differences and boundaries.
The unity of this family has been tested on occasions with internal and external factors and strains but it has held together and come out even stronger.
The most important factor in this national familial unity, like in any good family, is the head of the family. The head of this tight knit Bhutanese family is the Monarchy symbolized in His Majesty the King.
For Bhutan, the word Monarchy is a borrowed term from the west, for in reality, there is a much deeper and intense relationship between the Bhutanese Monarchy and its people than what the term Monarchy cover’s or conveys.
In a Bhutanese family sitting down to dinner or a gathering, there is always a psychological space and presence kept for the Bhutanese Monarch. Almost subconsciously many Bhutanese family dinner conversations talk about the Bhutanese Monarchs with not only respect and reverence but a genuine sense of familial kinship as the head of the symbolic larger Bhutanese family.
For the desperate and weak there is a ray of hope and a lot of comfort in the thought that they can always approach the Monarch if things get really bad.
Be it in coffee houses or sophisticated offices there is a high degree of reverence and passion in recounting the many heroic exploits known and unknown of our Kings. A simple sentence uttered by the Monarch is analyzed and taken as an important message.
The Bhutanese Monarchy is not only there in the formal settings of the state, Constitution, Parliament, etc but more importantly as an important omnipresent head of the larger Bhutanese family.
Bhutan’s Monarchy is popular and loved not only because of various reforms which are very important in their own right. Importantly, the Bhutanese Monarchy has made a singular achievement of uniting Bhutan into one large family and encouraging a very strong Bhutanese sense of community spirit at the national level.
His Majesty the King’s words on 11th November 2015 that the Gyalsey will be a son to all Bhutanese reinforces this important familial bond.
His Majesty the King in 2008 said, “Throughout my reign, I will never rule you as a king. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son.”
His Majesty has been true to his words living out in words and actions every word in the above sentence.
His Majesty the King has been a beloved family head for the Bhutanese people. There is a visible and deep sense of commitment and love for his subjects.
However, in all of this His Majesty at first stood alone until to the nation’s joy His Majesty was joined by Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen. To this the addition of a Royal son marks an important phase in the life of Bhutan’s beloved Monarch.
For many who have had the privilege of being a new father there is a strong sense of not only love and affection but also a deep sense of responsibility. This responsibility is not only to the immediate family but also about larger questions of what kind of society and environment is the young child going to grow up in.
For the Monarch, this sense of responsibility will go much deeper as the Monarchy in Bhutan plays a key role in the evolution of the country and society. Moreover, as the Gyalsey grows up His Majesty and Her
Majesty will be closely and directly involved in the upbringing of Gyalsey to master all the qualities of heart and mind to take Bhutan into the future.
Apart from this a family is essential for the happiness and fulfillment that comes with it. Time spent with one’s spouse and children is a singular source of happiness, strength and stability. It is a moment of happiness for the nation that His Majesty can enjoy this at a personal level in the form of a loving Queen and Prince by His Majesty’s side.
Therefore, the Royal birth fills not only an important National and Constitutional role but it strengthens and rejuvenates the larger Bhutanese family as a heir is in place to take the larger Bhutanese family into the future. The birth is also an important personal milestone for the Royal couple and will start a new and important phase in Their Majesties lives.
The Royal Birth is also an important gift to His Majesty the Fourth King who is on his 60th birth anniversary. There is no doubt that The Gyalsey could not have asked for a better father and grandfather team to guide and train him to take Bhutan to new heights in the future.
Even the heavens seem to agree as they have come together to bless this occasion. The Royal Birth takes place in the once in 60 years Male Fire Monkey year that marks the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche and 400th year of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s visit to Bhutan.
“Throughout my reign, I will never rule you as a king. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son.”
His Majesty the King’s Coronation Address in 2008