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The First King and the Second King of Bhutan

King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is known to be a spiritual person and a strong patron of the nation's religious heritage. He has protected and developed the existing religious institutions and established several new ones. As a family man with deep-rooted filial attachment he is an example of strong family values, especially to the youth of Bhutan.

The First and Second King of Bhutan

Ugyen Wangchuck
at the conclusion of Younghusband mission in Lhasa, 1904
To his left: His cousin and father-in-law Kunzang Thinley.
(Photo: Johnston and Hoffman, British Library ; The Raven Crown by Michael Aries)

A new era in the Bhutanese history began on the 17th December 1907, when Trongsa Penlop (the Governor of Trongsa) Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first hereditary king of Bhutan. It was a decision taken unanimously by the clergy, officials, and people acting on their desire for political stability and internal peace in the country. Thus, King Ugyen Wangchuck laid the foundation for the emergence of modern Bhutan, uniting it under a central authority.

The nation continued to enjoy peace and stability under the reign of the second king who succeeded him in 1926 and ruled the country till 1952.

The Third King - His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck

After his ascension to the throne in 1952, the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck took the initiative of developing political consciousness among the Bhutanese people by giving them a greater say in running the country. This was most evident in the establishment if the National Assembly by the king in 1953, and later still, when his majesty voluntarily surrendered the right to veto bills in the Assembly.

King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck also proposed a mechanism of no-confidence vote that could require the king to abdicate his throne if he was deemed unfit to rule the nation. This, however, was met with a great deal of objection and resistance in the Assembly. Upon yet another recommendation on this issue from the king in 1969, the Assembly reluctantly approved the resolution whereby the reigning monarch would have to abdicate if two-thirds of the Assembly supported a vote of no-confidence. This system was however, abolished by the Assembly during the spring session in 1973.

Under the third king's reign, the Royal Advisory Council, the Council of Ministers and Cabinet, and a High Court were also established. Pertinently known as the father of modern Bhutan, king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was responsible for bringing planned development into the country with the introduction of Five-Year Plans, shedding off centuries old isolation and opening Bhutan up to the rest of the world. In 1971, Bhutan joined the United Nations organisation.

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