Royal visit and meeting puts positive international spotlight on Bhutan

Bhutan is normally in the news with one or two articles in a few days to a week, but the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 14th April and their meeting with His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen saw around 3,000 plus international news articles just within 24 hours.

The combined soft and star power of the visiting Prince William and Kate and the hosts in His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen ensured that virtually every major media outlet on the planet carried some news item on  Bhutan.

This was made possible by an international media team of around 60 people. Some of them worked for wire agencies that in turn shared the news with multiple media houses.

The news articles while describing the visit replete with colourful photos mainly talked glowingly about Bhutan.

ABC News a major American news corporation said, “Bhutan has been relatively successful at mitigating poverty, increasing literacy and health, preserving their culture, environment and psychological well-being.”

The Telegraph said, “The country’s landscapes are a bit like Switzerland’s, but less populated and rather more exotic.”

Many news articles talked about the popularity of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen and how Bhutan has been successful in preserving its environment and culture and maintaining peace and stability.

Many of the news articles also talked about the Gross National Happiness philosophy of Bhutan and how life in Bhutan was more peaceful and happier than in other parts of the world.

CNN talked about the great traditional reception giving to the visiting Duke and Duchess and dwelled how His Majesty and Her Majesty were also a glamorous Royal couple often compared to Prince William and Kate.

A major Indian newspaper DNA quoted a Thimphu resident saying that two of the best Royal couples of the world are meeting.

The high point of the visit for international media was the meeting between the two Royal Couples. Within minutes pictures of His Majesty and Her Majesty along with the Duke and Duchess not only hit international news pages and screens but also went viral on the social media.

While Thursday was not a holiday the officialdom in Thimphu came to a relative stop as people across the country were glued to their TV sets watching every step of the visit, broadcast live on BBS.

The overall tone of the international news media was highly positive with a fairytale and exotic angle.

The discussion points in the articles were on both the Royal couples, Bhutan, the Traditional Chipdrel ceremony, the Royal Audience in the Throne room and subsequent butter lamp offerings. This was appreciation of Kate’s efforts to blend in with a Kira and a Bhutanese textile inspired top.

The news articles also mentioned the private dinner hosted by His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen for the Duke and Duchess.

The news articles also carried articles and stories on the Duke and Duchess trying their hand at some traditional archery and khuru.

The news coverage on the second day replete with pictures showed the hike of the Duke and Duchess to Taktsang.

However, more than any words the strength of the international coverage as in any news coverage was the many photogenic moments between the two Royal Couples.

Bhutan and UK do not have formal diplomatic ties as Bhutan has a policy of not having diplomatic ties with any permanent five of the Security Council. However, the two Royal Families share cordial and friendly ties going back all the way to the First King of Bhutan.

Earlier the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Paro International airport on 14th April to be received by Her Royal Highness Ashi Chimi Yangzom.

The Duke and Duchess were presented flowers by a young boy and girl at the airport.

From there a vehicle procession headed towards Thimphu where people and students were lined up along the way.

The Duke and Duchess stopped their car in Khasadrabchu and interacted with some students lined along the way, with silk scarves in their hands.

They got a brief moment of rest and after a costume change they headed onto the Tashichhodzong with a special Chipdrel procession and ceremony.

Their Royal Highnesses received an audience from His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen.

In gestures that conveyed both protocol and genuine respect the Duke gave a formal head bow to His Majesty and Her Majesty while the Duchess gave a bow each.

His Majesty conveyed wishes to the Queen of the United Kingdom for her 90th birthday celebrations through the Duke and Duchess. Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her birthday on 21st April.

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen offered prayers at the Grand Kuenrey of the Tashichhodzong along with the Duke and Duchess, following the Audience. Their Majesties and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge lit 1,000 butter lamps at the Grand Kuenrey.

Their Majesties also invited the Duke and Duchess to the Lingkana Palace for a private dinner later in the evening.

After the Royal audience the Duke and Duchess meet with some differently able children and tried their hand at Khuru and Archery much to the delight of the international press and local spectators.

On the morning of 15th April they hiked up to the Tigers nest or Taktsang dressed in casuals. After some rest the Royal couple will leave the country on Saturday after a successful visit.

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