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The Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck becomes the fifth king of Bhutan

15 December, 2006 - The fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has handed over his responsibilities as the Monarch and head of state of Bhutan to the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who now assumes the full responsibilities of head of state as the fifth Druk Gyalpo.

“The time has now come for me to hand over my responsibilities to Trongsa Penlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck,” said His Majesty in a kasho issued on December 9, the 20th day of the 10th Bhutanese month. “I am confident that a very bright future lies ahead for Bhutan with the leadership of a new King and a democratic system of government that is best suited for our country as enshrined under the Constitution. I have every confidence that there will be unprecedented progress and prosperity for our nation in the reign of our fifth King.”

As the transition was formally announced on December 14, the 24th day of the 10th Bhutanese month, the day was charged with emotion, and a special sitting of the Cabinet in Tashichhodzong was unable to articulate a comprehensive discussion. Cabinet members and special guests that included the chief justice, the speaker of the National Assembly, and the chief election commissioner were overcome by emotion and sat in a long and stunned silence after His Majesty the King’s announcement.

With a clarity that has been consistent in the royal views, His Majesty reminded the Cabinet session that he had already announced the decision to the nation last December and repeated it many times to the lhengye zhungtsho.

His Majesty explained that Bhutan could not hope for a better time for such an important transition. Today, the country enjoyed peace and stability, and its security and sovereignty was ensured. After phenomenal development and progress the country was closer than ever to the goal of economic self reliance. Bhutan’s relations with its closest neighbour and friend, India, had reached new heights. International organisations and bilateral development partners were ready to support Bhutan’s development efforts and political transformation.

His Majesty said that Bhutan was extremely fortunate to have been able to face and overcome many challenges over the past 34 years, even those that many people thought were not possible. While countries around the world were suffering from political unrest and economic woes the Bhutanese leadership and people now had the opportunity to look ahead and plan for the future.

“Such an opportunity will not come again,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty also pointed out that, as parliamentary democracy was established, the country would enjoy peace and stability for several years and that would be a good period for the fifth Druk Gyalpo and the new government to gain exposure and political experience.

His Majesty said that, as long as he himself continued to be King, the Crown Prince would not gain the actual experience of dealing with issues and carrying out the responsibilities of a head of state. With parliamentary democracy to be established in 2008 there was much to be done so it was necessary that he gained this valuable experience.

His Majesty said that he had mentioned to the Crown Prince that he would have the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to prepare him for his responsibilities as King. His Majesty expressed his confidence that the fifth Druk Gyalpo was fully capable of carrying out his responsibilities. Judging by his performance as Crown Prince, his thinking, and his principles, His Majesty said he had no doubt that the fifth Druk Gyalpo would serve his nation with selfless dedication. His Majesty said that if the Crown Prince was not worthy, he would not have handed over his responsibilties just because the Crown Prince was his own son.

His Majesty himself had taken over the reigns of governance at the age of 16 years and he had no doubt that the fifth Druk Gyalpo, who was now 26 years old, would dedicate his service to the interests of the nation. By the time he retired at the age of 65 years he would have served for 38 years. His Majesty expressed his hope and prayer that the fifth Druk Gyalpo will achieve national objectives that were important to the country and fulfill the aspirations of the Bhutanese people.

Although Bhutan had achieved unprecedented development in the past 34 years, it was more important now to think of the future. His Majesty said that he had made the decision to abdicate because it was in the best interest of the nation.

His Majesty the King expressed his sincere appreciation to the ministers and senior officials with whom he had worked closely over the past 34 years. His Majesty said that he had valued their unfailing loyalty and service.

The prime minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, submitted to the meeting that he and the other members of the lhengye zhungtsho had been aware of His Majesty’s wishes but they were at a complete loss when they actually heard the royal command and received the royal kasho.

It was not possible to list the phenomenal successes of His Majesty the King’s reign that allowed Bhutan to stand proud in the comity of nations. The Bhutanese people enjoyed a better quality of life than ever before, the security and sovereignty of the country was assured, and the world admired Bhutan’s enlightened policies that helped preserve its unique traditions including the pristine environment, rich culture, and principle of Gross National Happiness.

There could never be a more fortunate generation of people, he said.

The agriculture minister, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, said that His Majesty the King had been a true parent of the people of Palden Drukpa who now felt like children whose umbilical cord had been cut. The people, he said, were profoundly sad after being severed from a parent who had nourished them for 34 years.

The home minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, said that everything that His Majesty had envisioned had become a reality although many people, including himself, had believed that some of them were not possible. He said that they were still unable to comprehend the wisdom of such achievements that had assured the sovereignty of the nation and happiness of the people.

The minister for trade and industry, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, said that, at a time when world leaders promised power to the people but never meant it, His Majesty the King had devolved all authority to the people despite their repeated pleas against it. The people would never forget that what Bhutan is today is the achievement of His Majesty the King.

The zhung kalyon, Dasho Rinzin Gyeltshen, said that, in the past 34 years, His Majesty the King had brought the Bhutanese people from darkness into light, from the forests into civilisation, and had shown them the true path when they were lost. It was His Majesty the King who had led them to unprecedented socio-economic and political achievement and ensured the security of the country.

The speaker of the National Assembly, Dasho Ugyen Dorje, said that His Majesty’s announcement was like darkness setting in on a bright day. His Majesty’s achievements were known to the world and international leaders these days even advised other leaders to look to His Majesty as an example and for inspiration.

The chief justice, Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye, expressed the deep gratitude of the Bhutanese people to His Majesty the King for giving them the identity that they were so proud of. The Bhutanese populace had been poor and down-trodden in the past but now looked into the future with confidence and pride.

Government ministers, the kalyon, the chief justice, and the speaker of the National Assembly also pledged their allegiance to His Majesty the fifth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who also attended the meeting.

The prime minister and the lhengye zhungtsho members said that the government and people of Bhutan would serve His Majesty with dedication and loyalty. The ministers expressed their full faith and confidence in their new King and their support for the period during which His Majesty would gain experience to guide the political developments in the future.

Even as the members of the lhengye zhungtsho and special invitees to His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s last appearance in the Cabinet room submitted their sentiments and views their strongest message came in the deep quiet that hung in the air throughout the meeting. The royal heir and all members of the lhengye zhungtsho were moved to stunned silence by his final act of trust in the Bhutanese people.

Translation of Royal Kasho or Royal Edict
Royal Kasho 15 December, 2006 - As I had announced during the National Day celebrations last year about my abdication, and also briefed the Lhengye Zhungtshog on this decision, the time has now come for me to hand over my responsibilities to Trongsa Penlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
While we prepare ourselves for parliamentary democracy in 2008, we must all pledge with our body, speech and mind to be unwavering and steadfast in our efforts to strengthen the sovereignty and security of Bhutan, to secure the blessings of liberty, ensure justice and peace in our country, and enhance the unity, happiness and well being of our people for all time to come.
In taking note of the progress that our nation has made over the past thirty four years, I would like to state that whatever we have achieved so far is due to the merit of the people of Bhutan. I, therefore, wish to express my gratitude to the Clergy, the officials of the Royal Government, the members of the business community and our security forces, and to all the people of the twenty Dzongkhags for their unfailing support and loyalty to me and the country.
I am confident that a very bright and great future lies ahead for Bhutan with the leadership of a new King and a democratic system of government that is best suited for our country, as enshrined under the Constitution. I have every confidence that there will be unprecedented progress and prosperity for our nation in the reign of our Fifth King.
As I hand over my responsibilities to my son, I repose my full faith and belief in the people of Bhutan to look after the future of our nation, for it is the Bhutanese people who are the true custodians of our tradition and culture and the ultimate guardians of the security, sovereignty and continued well being of our country.
May the blessings of Ugyen Guru Rimpoche, the father of our nation Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and our Guardian Deities continue to guide the destiny of our country and protect the future of the glorious Palden Drukpa!
Given at Tashichhodzong on the Twentieth Day of the Tenth Month of the Fire-Dog Year, corresponding to the Ninth Day of December 2006.
Druk Gyalpo
Source Kuensel