July 23, 2008 / 11:16 AM / 10 years ago

Bhutan to crown its fifth king in November

THIMPHU, July 23 (Reuters) - Bhutan will crown its fifth king on Nov. 6, ending a two-year wait for an auspicious date for the 27-year-old Oxford-educated King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to don the Raven Crown.

Jigme Khesar became king late in 2006 after his father abdicated, but astrologers said last year was an inauspicious time for him to be crowned in the reclusive, mainly Buddhist Himalayan nation.

Last week, the king ratified Bhutan’s first constitution, formally ending a century of royal rule and establishing a parliamentary democracy with the monarch as head of state.

It had all been the idea of the country’s fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who forced his largely reluctant people to accept democracy.

The coronation will be a low key affair, with the king donning a crown with a raven’s head carved on it, a traditional royal symbol, Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley said.

“The coronation will be an event that will be primarily celebrated together by the king and the people, with minimal guests from outside,” he said.

However, the Indian president and the prime minister have been invited as special guests, he said.

Officials said school children will perform special dances in traditional dress, while religious hymns are chanted.

The celebration will continue for three days and end on Nov. 8, the prime minister said.

Three astrologers studied the stars to select Nov. 6 as the best day to crown the king, according to the lunar calender. (Writing by Bappa Majumdar and Simon Denyer; Editing by Jerry Norton) (For the latest Reuters news on India see in.reuters.com, for blogs see blogs.reuters.com/in/.)

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