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King and Queen of Bhutan dubbed Himalayan 'William and Kate'

Published 14/04/2016

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck on a visit to London
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck on a visit to London

The glamorous King and Queen of Bhutan have been dubbed the Himalayan "William and Kate".

New parents King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema celebrated the birth of their first child - a son - just 10 weeks ago.

They will have much to discuss with the family-focused Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, whose own children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, have remained in the UK while they carry out their overseas tour.

The Dragon King and Queen - as they are known in the local Dzongkha language - are hugely popular in the mountainous kingdom.

They attracted the attention of royal watchers across the globe when they married in 2011 - the same year as William and Kate.

Like Kate, 25-year-old Queen Jetsun Pema was a commoner and a student who has been praised for her style. She is the daughter of a pilot, while Kate's father Michael Middleton was an air steward and a flight dispatcher and her mother Carole was an air stewardess.

Kate - a future Queen consort herself - also studied history of art and is known for her love of sport, while Queen Jetsun Pema's interests include fine arts, painting and basketball.

The King and Queen appear equally at ease with the traditions of their homeland as with western influences and are fast becoming the face of a modern progressive monarchy.

They posted the first official image of their son on Facebook and both were educated for a time in the UK - with the King studying at Oxford University.

The 36-year-old monarch succeeded his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 2006 after his abdication.

The change of leadership was part of a democratising process and two years later the first parliamentary elections were held.

When their engagement was announced, King Jigme described his future wife as a "kind hearted girl who is very supportive and whom I can trust. I don't know what my people will say about her, but I find her complete with all the qualities a woman needs to have."

As is tradition, their son's name has yet to have been revealed - so far he has only been known as "Royal Highness The Gyalsey" - a Buddhist word for prince.

His name will be unveiled on Saturday - the day William and Kate leave Bhutan - in a ceremony to mark the national day Zhabdrung Kuchoe, which commemorates the 400th anniversary of the death of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan as a nation state.

The kingdom is well-known for its "Gross National Happiness" index - an alternative to GDP - which measures personal happiness as opposed to economic growth.

Bhutan is overshadowed by Himalayan peaks and for much of the 20th century the landlocked country was isolated from the world preserving much of its Buddhist traditions, landscape and wildlife.

The capital Thimphu does not have traffic lights but white-gloved officers directing vehicles, and television was only introduced in the late 1990s.

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