Punakha: The beloved king of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan married his commoner bride on Thursday in an ancient Buddhist ceremony at the country's most sacred monastery fortress.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, wearing the raven crown, came down from his golden throne in front of a huge statue of Buddha to place a smaller, silk brocade crown upon the head of his bride, Jetsun Pema. Monks chanted in celebration as she took up her seat beside him as the new queen of the country.
The wedding has captivated the nation, which had grown impatient with their 31-year-old bachelor king's lack of urgency to wed. Children composed poems, flight attendants practiced celebratory dances and posters of the couple were nearly ubiquitous.
The celebrations began at 8:20 a.m. - a time set by royal astrologers - when the king, wearing the royal yellow sash, walked into the courtyard of the 17th Century monastery in the old capital of Punakha and proceeded up the high staircase inside. A few minutes later, his 21-year-old bride arrived at the end of a procession of red-robed monks and flag bearers across a wooden footbridge over the wide, blue river beside the fort.