This Article is From Oct 15, 2011

Bhutan royal couple given ceremonial reception; Rahul Gandhi attends

Thimphu: Two days after their fairy tale wedding, King Jigme Khesar Nagyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema were today accorded a ceremonial reception by the Royal Bhutan Army on their first visit post-marriage to the seat of government here, an event where Rahul Gandhi was the only guest. (Pics: Rahul Gandhi in Bhutan)

As the dawn broke in the tiny Himalayan kingdom, the newly-wed walked hand-in-hand to the TashichhoDzong, the office of the King, along with a ceremonial procession of over 100 people, including traditional artistes and red-robe monks.

The couple got married on Thursday in a traditional Buddhist ceremony at an imposing monastic fortress in Punakha, 71 km from here, with Wangchuck crowning his childhood sweetheart Pema, who was educated in India.

Upon their arrival at the Dzong, the royal couple were received by the King's father Jigme Singye Wangchuck and chief monk of the country Je Khenpo. The 'Grand National Flag' was unfurled and the Guard of Honour presented.

The King and his Queen look fresh and relaxed despite making most of their 71-km journey from Punakha to Thimphu on foot yesterday as thousands of people lined up along the roads to greet them.

As thy ascended to the dais, around 50 soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army marched and accorded Guard of Honour and presented the national flag to the royal couple, who touched it with their both hands.

The ceremony, as part of the royal traditions, was strictly a family and government affair except for the participation of Gandhi, the Congress MP from Amethi, whose family shares a close relationship with the Bhutan royals.

The importance that the royal family attached to the Nehru-Gandhi clan was evident from the fact that Rahul was accompanied to the huge monastic fortress by none other than the present King's father.

Rahul, whose father Rajiv Gandhi was a close friend of the present Bhutan King's father, was introduced to chief monk Je Khenpo and taken near the dais, where members of the royal family had been waiting for some time.

Clad in his trademark white kurta with a black jacket, the 41-year-old Congress leader welcomed the King and the Queen with a 'namaste' and even bowed for a while along with the members of the royal family as a mark of respect to the couple.

With a grand painting depicting Lord Buddha in different manifestations forming the background, the Bhutan army soldiers stood in attention as prayers were held and a ceremonial reception accorded to the couple.

After the brief ceremony, the couple were escorted to the Royal Chambers where the King ascended the Golden Throne and wore the Raven Crown followed by a series of prayers led by monks.

Throughout the nearly 30-minute ceremony, the young Nehru-Gandhi scion stood along with the members of the royal family and was seen chatting with them for almost 20 minutes as they waited for the couple to arrive.

Members of the royal family introduced Gandhi to senior government functionaries and others.