The People’s King

The nation and people are once again united in their expression of love, respect and appreciation, as we celebrate the 34th birthday of His Majesty the King.

The elated atmosphere at the Changlimethang ground and the ebullient enthusiasm of ordinary people across the country gives a measure of the popularity of the Monarchy, increasing and strengthening every year.

Some tourists were so taken up in the mood of birthday celebrations, pride and happiness that they assumed it was Bhutan’s National Day as well.

It is no mean feat that His Majesty the King, operating in an era of Parliamentary Democracy, has ensured an increase in the popularity of the Monarchy despite the challenges of a complicated new system and the entry of political heavyweights and political parties.

Five years of a roller coaster ride of self-governance by the Bhutanese people have only made us appreciate how difficult it is for our Kings to occupy the position they do and carry out their responsibilities with dedication.

In our celebration, some outsiders and visitors may be puzzled with the level of devotion of people to the Monarchy even six years after the advent of democracy.

Bhutanese people, high and low, above all prize the security and sovereignty of the nation, especially a small nation known to be an oasis of relative paradise stuck between two unpredictable giants.

The Monarchy, starting all the way from His Majesty the First King to the His Majesty the Great Fourth King, have put all on the line including their lives at times to secure Bhutan’s security and sovereignty. His Majesty the King though relatively early in his reign has also demonstrated all the right qualities and skills in carrying on this most important duty.

His Majesty the King, in a continuation from the earlier Kings and especially his father, has demonstrated not only the western system of good governance and state craft but has also combined it with the very Bhutanese attribute of being good ‘Buddhist Kings’.

His Majesty as the modern King is playing his role well in a Constitutional Monarchy along with other constitutional duties of preserving the unity, security, stability, strategic interests and many other Head of State roles.

His Majesty has, at the same time, also demonstrated that like His Majesty’s ancestors, His Majesty the King is also a good Buddhist King with strong and good indigenous Buddhist values.

His Majesty has lifted tens of thousands of families out of poverty by granting Kidu. His Majesty continues the policy of protecting Bhutan’s important cultural and environmental heritage. The King has also demonstrated considerable warmth and compassion on his people, shown primarily through his trips to the most isolated and poverty stricken areas across the country, to help the poor and the meek. There is also a true Tha-Damtse between the King and his people.

His Majesty the King has demonstrated the important leadership quality of adapting to changing times. If one goes through many of His Majesty’s speeches, one gets a strong sense of urgency and concern for the people and the country to be on top of changing global times and situations rather than be swept away by it. One example is His Majesty the King’s important focus and stress on achieving economic development, not just through mega projects, but by realizing the human resource potential of ordinary Bhutanese.

His Majesty the King also plays a deeply symbolic and positive psychological role in the psyche of ordinary Bhutanese. Even today, people have a strong sense of security and connection to the state because they know that even if all fails, one can always approach His Majesty the King.

Many outsiders, even today, when they talk of the incredible progress, stability and happiness of Bhutan and Bhutanese people, they cannot help but mention the Monarchy in a positive light and rightly so.

When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’
Lao Tzu

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