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The Dragon King - a Tribute

The following is another tribute that I had the honor to contribute and offer to our beloved K4 and was published by Business Bhutan in their special edition on November 11, 2015. 

Art by Chimi R Namgyal
The moment my mother stepped out her feet, the whole family mood would change. I remember how, as a young boy, I felt so low, restless and completely dejected when she had to go some places leaving us behind. Our house would be empty and cold. And as she disappeared away from us, behind the hills, I would amble home, crying.

That was exactly the kind of atmosphere that the nation had as people retired for the night of December 9, 2006. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo had just abdicated the Golden Throne and handed over His Royal duties to the then Crown Prince and the Fifth Hereditary Monarch His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck at Tashichodzong in the presence of the Council of Ministers. For a moment, the whole nation went silent unable to believe what they were seeing or hearing. The citizens felt empty and low. No one was prepared for the sudden news and it literally shook and shocked the nation. Some elder citizens could not contain their tears. That hangover lasted for a long time. 

But deep inside we all knew this was coming. His Majesty the Fourth King declared at the National Day celebrations on December 17, 2005, that he was abdicating the Throne and that the nation would conduct parliamentary elections in 2008. But what we did not know was that it was coming that soon. 

The news soon reached far and wide. The world praised His Majesty’s noble vision and his farsighted motive. When elsewhere leaders hungered for more powers, here was a King, who chose to renounce his power and instead give it back to the people. 

His Majesty had always been a democrat at heart. In order to decentralize and devolve power to the people, His Majesty established Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdus (DYT) in 1981 and Gewog Yargay Tshogchung (GYT) in 1991. The decentralization initiative provided the local leaders the opportunities to plan and implement their own development agenda in consultation with the people, who are the ultimate beneficiary of the developmental programs. People were given the power to choose their leaders to represent them. 

And more significantly in 1998 His Majesty declared, “The time has come to promote even greater people’s participation in the decision-making process. Our country must be ensured to always have a system of government which enjoys the mandate of the people and also has an inbuilt mechanism of checks and balance to safeguard our national interest and security,” and selflessly handed over his executive powers to the elected Council of Ministers. On September 4, 2001, His Majesty initiated the drafting of written Constitution for Bhutan. 

His Majesty said, “It is my duty, as the King, to strengthen the nation so that the people and the nation becomes more prosperous and secure than before. During the past years of my reign, I have made constant efforts to empower the people by delegating authority, resources and responsibility to them. Reforms on decentralization and devolution of power have been quiet but continuous.” 

Accordingly in 2005, Bhutan released the Draft Constitution to the people for review and comments. His Majesty personally held consultations with the people and listened to their views and recommendations. And in most places citizens requested His Majesty to defer democratization process itself. 

During the 2005 National Day, His Majesty said, “During my consultations on the Constitution in different Dzongkhags, the main concern of our people is that it is too early to introduce parliamentary democracy in Bhutan.” But His Majesty was fully convinced that the time was ripe and that Bhutanese people have had their share of experience in democratic processes and principles. “After 26 years of the process of decentralization and devolution of powers to the people, I have every confidence that people will be able to choose the best political party that can provide good governance and serve the interest of the nation.” 

One of the strong apprehensions people shared was Article 2, Section 6 of the Draft Constitution, which stated, “Upon reaching the age of sixty-five years, the Druk Gyalpo shall step down and hand over the Throne to the Crown Prince or Crown Princess, provided the Royal Heir has come of age.” People everywhere appealed His Majesty to remove the section and expressed their concerns, but the King insisted on its importance. That’s why today the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan retains the clause. His Majesty set a great precedent by resigning at the age of 51. His Majesty was a true democrat. 

We live in a unique nation that is blessed by the visionary and farsighted leaders. As envisioned by our Beloved His Majesty Druk Gyal Zhipa, Bhutan adopted its written Constitution in 2008 and welcomed the democratically elected government. History of democracy is often mired in great bloodshed and violence, but democracy assumed a new meaning in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Here it comes at a time when the nation was enjoying profound peace and dawns as a priceless gift from the Golden Throne. 

When the fourth Druk Gyalpo personally led the forces during the military flush out in the south, a renowned lama remarked, “There were stories from the past of the mythical King Gesar or the Buddhist King Ashoka, who fought battles, but in the modern time the Bhutanese King proved it.” That was a day in 2003, which would always remain etched in the minds and hearts of every Bhutanese. We can never thank His Majesty enough for voluntarily putting his own life at risk so that we have a safer future. 

My cousin Sherab, a monk, believes, “Our kings are the emanation of Bodhisattvas and are by no means ordinary beings. For Bhutanese, our king is a symbol of our collective merits.” I can’t agree more with him. Our kings are the embodiment of true compassion in whose hearts dwell the welfare and security of the Bhutanese people. 

His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck is an exemplary leader in the twenty-first-century world. Bhutan is the only nation that has seen a young king being crowned in the presence of his father. His Majesty also demonstrated his lack of greed for powers by selflessly abdicating the Golden Throne and ushering in a new era of democracy in the Land of the Thunder Dragon. 

As the nation marks the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, I would like to join my fellow citizens in offering my humble and sincere prayers for His Majesty’s good health and unending peace and happiness in the Kingdom of Bhutan. 

May the Kingdom gain enough merit to fulfill His Majesty’s lofty vision of Gross National Happiness! 


  1. This is a very touching and nice article shared. I knew about the abdication but had little idea about the details until I read this post today. Selfless people are few today when the world's beings are fighting and killing senselessly over power, greed and fanaticism ideas. May your country continue to live in all the peace and happiness within.


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