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Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 13:29 UK

Bhutan king to be crowned at last

THE KING'S ANCIENT TITLES:
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

Supreme Protector Of The People

The Great Elected One

The Upholder Of The Law

A date has been announced in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan for the long awaited coronation of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

He took over after his father abdicated in 2006 as part of moves towards a constitutional monarchy.

But officials say his formal coronation was postponed until elections to parliament were completed.

It will be held on 6 November which falls in what is known in Bhutan as the month of the earth male rat.

The coronation will be the culmination of an eventful year.

In 2008 the country formally became a constitutional monarchy and the king relinquished his absolute powers.

Announcing the date for the "historic occasion", Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley said three enlightened astrologers had jointly proposed 6 November as the most auspicious date for the coronation.

He said that the king had also agreed to the date.

The prime minister said the coronation will be an event that will be primarily celebrated by the king and his people with few guests from outside.

He said that it will be followed by two days of celebrations at the Changlingmithang stadium in the capital, Thimphu.

The king is also expected to give an audience to the general public at some point during the celebrations.

There will also be cultural performances throughout the coronation celebrations by various sections of Bhutanese society, in addition to a variety of games and competitions that will include the public.

The prime minister said the coronation will further consolidate the country's "sovereign independence and security and promote further unity, harmony, and peace in the kingdom".

THE KING'S MODERN TITLES:

Protector Of The Nation's Security

Guardian Of The Constitution

Inspiration For Gross National Happiness

He said it will also "usher in a new era that will further enhance socio-economic prosperity".

The BBC's Chris Morris says that while 2008 will be remembered for the year democracy was introduced to Bhutan, revolutionary change in this traditional Buddhist kingdom is not on the agenda.

The transition to democracy has been deliberately designed to be slow and steady and the monarchy will continue to play a central role in Bhutanese life.

Both the new government and the opposition say they are committed to the king's own five-year plan, and to the royal philosophy of Gross National Happiness - or GNH - which aims to strike a better balance between the spiritual and the material.


SEE ALSO
Bhutan experiments with democracy
25 Mar 08 |  South Asia
US congratulates Bhutan on vote
25 Mar 08 |  South Asia
Bhutan holds its first elections
31 Dec 07 |  South Asia
Timeline: Bhutan
25 Mar 08 |  Country profiles

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