Bhutan’s Queen Mother on Elvis, Buddhism

Great interview in the WSJ online with the birth mother of the King of Bhutan (aka Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.) She happens also to be an author. (Thanks, Judy!)



One of my fondest memories of my time in boarding school in India is watching Elvis Presley movies. We used to have screenings in school, I remember watching “It Happened at the World’s Fair” and “Viva Las Vegas.” And I just fell in love with this gentleman—ever since I was in second grade. I am still a fan.


Elvis has always been one of my all-time favorites. I saw him in concert in Madison Square Garden in the 1970s. When he died I was here in Bhutan and I remember wearing black for one week. And in the mornings I would offer butter lamps for his soul, which is something we do here in Bhutan.

I also had the great opportunity of going to Memphis, where I stayed at the Heartbreak Hotel. I went there with my daughter, right after her graduation from Harvard Law School in 2007. Graceland appeared much, much smaller than I had expected it to be as a child. Nevertheless, Elvis loomed large. I also saw the jumpsuits he looked so wonderful in when he went on stage. On his bookshelf I also noticed a copy of Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha,” which is about the Buddha. I liked that.

I have walked the length and breadth of this entire nation, from its plains to some of its most inaccessible mountain areas. If I had to choose my single favorite place in Bhutan, it would have to be the Jigme Dorji National Park, named after the third king. This park is home to the national animal, the takin, the national flower, the blue poppy, and is home to our most pristine lakes and virgin peaks. In the park I also went on the Snowman trek, one of the toughest treks in the world. “


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