The Monarchy

Three poignant scenes in the last few weeks reaffirm the important and diverse roles played by the Monarchy in Bhutan. These scenes are of His Majesty the King regardless of personal safety personally supervising the rescue of sacred Nangtens as Wangdue Dzong burnt, His Majesty bringing together a usually divided and fractional Parliament at the opening and closing ceremony of the Parliament and His Majesty comforting and promising to always take care of the children of a RBA soldier Gopa Tenzin Dorji who died in the line of duty.

In an era where many MPs (of both houses) and senior bureaucrats are intent on increasing their pay, allowances, privileges, Patangs and titles, His Majesty the King has been doing the opposite for the Monarchy.

The latest in a series of such moves is the Royal Kasho limiting the land ceiling of Royal family members to 25 acres.  Earlier His Majesty the King had drastically limited the number of BHT vehicles and also limited the use of Royal titles to a select few who qualified for it as per a strict protocol.

Though His Majesty’s Secretariat is the most important office in the land it has a budget that is smaller than even tiny government divisions. The foreign travel budget of the secretariat would be among the least compared to any government or public agency.

His Majesty the King also personally lives in a no frill and near spartan conditions with Her Majesty the Queen. This is a similar feature when His Majesty travels the length and breadth of the country preferring to stay in the house of the poor instead of furnished hotels or government guest houses.

This is all extraordinary given the important role played by His Majesty the King in Bhutanese democracy. Though Bhutan is a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy it cannot be compared to any other system as every one of the 44 or so international Monarchies are different in their own way. For example in Netherlands the King chairs special cabinet meetings.

His Majesty the King in Bhutan is not only the head of state but is also a symbol of unity of the nation and people of Bhutan. His Majesty is responsible for the security and sovereignty of Bhutan. His Majesty also has the very important responsibility of protecting and upholding “the constitution in the best interest and for the welfare of the people of Bhutan.”  His Majesty has the duty to ensure that governments run in accordance with the constitution and laws of the nation for the welfare of the Bhutanese people.

As per the constitution only His Majesty the King can grant Land Kidu or any other kind of Kidu.

In his multiple roles the Constitution grant’s His Majesty the King several other functions and powers.  His Majesty the King has 1) Legislative powers to call various sessions of the house and refuse to provide assent to bad bills by sending them back for re-discussion. Also a bill only becomes law after Royal assent. When the government faces a no confidence vote by two thirds then His Majesty has the power to dissolve the Parliament  2)Executive powers to be the sole one to make important appointments in the government or award titles, 3)Judicial powers to grant amnesty, pardon or reduction of sentences, granting of citizenship, getting the opinion of the Supreme Court on any question of law and exercise powers on matters not enshrined in the constitution or other laws 4) Military Power as the Supreme Commander in Chief of the armed forces and the militia with the power to declare war and all peace treaties are made in His name, 5)Financial power to use the relief fund instituted by the Parliament, 6) Diplomatic power to promoting goodwill and relations with other countries, 7) Emergency powers to declare a national and financial emergency on the advice of the Prime Minister. In case of a deadlock where a joint sitting of Parliament can’t pass an important bill His Majesty can order a National Referendum.

Most of the 44 countries with Monarchies are stable, well to do and strife free mainly due to the stabilizing role of the Monarchs. For example Scandinavian countries which have the world’s highest development figures are Monarchies.

Many international political scientists say that the Monarchy is a proven check against possible illegal actions by political governments. For example in Australia in 1975 the Head of State representing the British Queen refused to carry out unconstitutional measures that the Prime Minister wanted.

In Nepal the abolition of Monarchy has lead to civil conflict, political logjam, instability and also growing sectarian and ethnic divides. It is not surprising that a recent poll among the Nepalese saw a clear majority wanting the re-installment of the Monarchy in Nepal. In Cambodia the abolition of Monarchy led to civil strife and deaths of 1.9mn people in the Pol Plot regime killings when a radical communist government took over. The modern era owes a lot to Monarchy as historically the greatest civilizations and empires have been formed by the Monarchy.

Australia, Canada and New Zealand though independent and modern felt such a strong need for a Monarchy for their own interest that they opted to continue having a British Monarch as their head of state. Belgium which did not have a Monarchy created one after their constitution was drafted in 1830. Medieval Japan consisted of warring warlords who only unified to create a strong nation under the Japanese Emperor.

Though Britain is the world’s oldest democracy with arguably the most aggressive political and press culture in the developed world, the British Monarchy is only increasing in popularity with the Queen celebrating her recent diamond jubilee.

Political parties in Bhutan come with fractured mandates and represent only a certain section of society and are usually in conflict with each other but His Majesty represents everyone.

Bhutanese Monarchs due to their very nature have a deeper level of patriotism than politicians and this combined with their position inspires higher levels of Patriotism in their citizens then a politician would.

Bhutanese Monarchs don’t just get to become the King overnight but rather our Kings from a young age have to undergo a strict regime of discipline, rigorous training, difficult conditioning, and are trained for good governance, etiquette, defense of the country, and the highest levels of public service. This is why Bhutanese Kings are at ease either defending their country in a war, negotiating with powerful foreign leaders, serving the meek, giving justice or holding philosophical conversations with the most learned lamas. His Majesty the King in spite of his position is a picture of humility, politeness and good grace.

During times of crisis like natural disasters His Majesty the King has been a figure of inspiration inspiring powerful national loyalty, unity and action.

His Majesty the King granting Nu 200mn for the reconstruction of Wangdue Dzong will provide much needed relief and help in the Dzong reconstruction.

In Bhutan the Monarchy apart from the above roles holds a very high cultural, historical and emotional value for every Bhutanese citizen.

When the Wangdue Dzong burnt down there was national outcry and grief because the Dzong was part of the larger Bhutanese identity. The Monarchy over a period of time has become the very soul of that Bhutanese identity providing security, stability, relief and comfort to its people.

In 2008 most Bhutanese did not want even a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy preferring an Absolute Monarchy. They could only be persuaded to accept democracy with great difficulty on the condition that the Monarchy will continue to play a key role.

Most importantly the Monarchy is absolutely central to the existence and future survival of Bhutan as a sovereign and independent nation.


“Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all.”

-Aristotle (Greek Philosopher and teacher of Alexander the Great) 


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  1. Kudos to thebhutanese for putting so well the role of our monarchies in a nut shell…….i m indeed very deeply moved by the way u have so very well expressed the important role that our monarchy is playing………………pl keep it up.

  2. It is indeed well illustrated and well written…
    I am proud to be born as Bhutanese, only in Bhutan we have a king who don’t mind drinking water from poor man’s cup, sleeping on the floor. We are very fortunate to be living in the era where we have king who is almost lord Buddha himself.
    Also,i would like to end here by saying, we the people are really grateful to His majesty, the king for his selfless service to this nation & people. Especially the poor people of rural areas.
    Thank you & long live the king.. long live the Nation of GNH…

  3. Long live the king.

  4. I salute you and “The Bhutanese” team for putting in words exactly how all the Bhutanese feels.
    Long live the Tsawa Sum!!! 

  5. Well written. Our Kings deserves to be in our heart always. Long live our King.

  6. honest_bhutan

    Long live the king….

  7. thumbs up to TheBhutanese…..

  8. Longue vie à leurs majestés le Roi et la Reine. Bonheur, paix et prospérité au Bhoutan…

  9. Thank you to The Bhutanese for this most beautifully articulated article on our Monarchy. It is an expression of all our thoughts, and a day will never pass without our undying love,reverence,respect and gratitude to our Kings for all they have done for the people and country of Bhutan. Every word, every action of His Majesty is so selflessly dedictaed to His people. We love our King! Long live our King! 

  10. The whole of Bhutan needs to read this wonderful article by the Bhutanese. Well Done. I recommend you get this translated in Dzongkha and distribute to the whole of the country. We need this article at this juncture in our history. We are all so worried with the way our politicians are handling things. Keep it up!
    Long Live Our Beloved King, Long Live Bhutan.

  11. I became quite emotional reading this article. Never realized till now how much our monarchs means to us. Thank you so much. 
    A happy Bhutanese

  12. Long Live the King!!! We love you so much and we are truly blessed.
    I join the Nation in saluting Our Great King.

  13. May the light of happiness, peace, prosperity and justice shine through the three jewels on our compassion filled Boddhisattva monarch, a fearless warrior general monarch, universal monarch for the well being of everyone in Bhutan and beyond. Palden Drukpa Lhageyllo. Long live His Majesty K4 & K5

  14. Indeed appreciate this article by the Bhutanese.
    No doubt our King and the Gyaltsuen are the most loved and revered leader of our time.
    Long live our king, Queen and K4 

  15. We’re one and live with one aim, i.e Happiness.

  16. haha, a small budget for the HM Secretariat. just do proper analyses

  17. This article is a reminder to all Bhutanese both young and old, never to forget where we come from, who we truly are and where we are heading.  Let  us all unite under our selfless monarchy  for the betterment of  tomorrow!  Good one Tenzin!  Tashi Delek!

  18. Long Live our Kings

  19. Silent Observer

    Long live our Monarchy!!! Congratulations Tenzin for such well versed explaination of HM’s Selfless contribution to the country and his people. We should all learn atleast one of his principals espescially, MPs of both the houses!!

  20. Are we living in two different worlds? On one side we have these gentlemen in blue always worried about their own well being and always fighting amongst themselves. Then on the other side we have a King who is always about giving, giving love and affection without asking anything in return. Okay, let us do one thing: 
    One should continue living this exemplary life and the others should follow in the footsteps of The One. Then we will have a wonderful country.

  21. Pamela Oldmeadow

    I have grave admiration for the wisdom and generosity of the Bhutanese monarchs. However, I feel the Australian examples in this article are unfortunate. Many Australians believe there were less drastic options open to the Governor General in the 1975 crisis than dismissing the Government. Also, the majority would like to become a republic but are unable to agree on the model to adopt. Under these circumstance they were unready to give up the monarchy.

  22. Thank your The Bhutanese for enlightening us deeper. I have never realized the role of Monarch to the extent of what the Bhutanese has brought in here. I am short of words to describe how i am thankful to our monarchs. I just wish that Bhutan should continued to enjoy peace and stability for all times to come. I am indeed proud to be a Bhutanese. Long Live His Majesties!! Pelden Druk Pa Gello!  

  23. Pamela you are wrong, as a Bhutanese resident in Australia i was witness to the British queen visiting recently. The media coverage there clearly showed that vast majority support the need for a monarchy in Australia. It is only a minority fringe that does not want the queen including your Australian Prime Minister Gillard. 

    • jamiel bhutanese

      Pamela I too live in Australia . I am from Bhutan. I wish your so called Queen took a leaf out from our His Majesty of Bhutan. Our king even lives in a poor man’s hut while He is touring the country. Did the Queen ever live in the streets of London like many of Her subjects do??? NOT.

  24. I would like to salute “The Bhutanese” for such a excellent article. This is very much well written and reflects the unchallenged true and godly nature of our beloved Monarchy. It is a good reminder to the people of Bhutan and please translate it in Dzongkha Section too as suggested by Samdrup.

  25. wow very good article. thump up to then bhutanese. very great pieces. really grateful to the writer.

  26. I loved this article a lot. Thank you very much. Long live the King!!!

  27. Without Monarchy in Bhutan….Peace and harmony would be a distant dream……….

  28. Our kings are the living symbols of Bhutanese identity, culture and sovereignty. Tenzin Lamsang should therefore remind himself of this fact and respect it as much as other citizens do. He should therefore not go into rampaging his so called ‘ critical stories’ into the past. He should rather contribute to further the democracy which is gifted to us by our Monarchs. He should as much as possible do his critical stories of the present without bias, fear or favor to any person, group of persons or institutions.  Above all he should learn to be professional as much as he wants politicians and bureaucrats to be professional. I shall then respect him as a true journalist.  

  29. The. dragon King is a great person he puts his people first, all times. Himself second. He sleeps with the poor. Like his father who abdicated so his could become king a demercratic monarchy. And now you have a crown prince to carry the monarchy forward. Long live you kingpp

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