Happy national day, Bhutan!

While Bhutan is somber today with the aviation tragedy in Nepal that claimed the lives of nearly twenty Bhutanese, the calendar marks the date as National Day; December 17th is the 103rd anniversary of the elevation of the Wangchuck family to monarchical rule of Bhutan. This is a public domain photo taken in 1907 by the explorer John Claude White of Bhutan’s just-coronated first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, considered to be the great unifier of the nation. Note the raven crown.

It was on this day in 2006 that Ugyen Wangchuck’s great grandson, Bhutan’s fourth King, Jigme Singye, announced in a National Day address that he would abdicate the throne so that his eldest son might rule and oversee the country’s transition to democracy. That and much much more has happened in the so-called last Shangri-la since then.

That’s just around the time I became introduced to this fascinating and wonderful place, for which I am eternally grateful!

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