Bhutan history - Bhutan king - Bhutan kingdom

Kingdom of Bhutan history - originsBuddhism religion in Bhutan Kingdom historyHistory of British influence on kingdomHistory of KingdomPictures of Kingdom of Bhutan


The establishment of the first king and Bhutan kingdom

After the British war on Bhutan and the subsequent treaty, in 1870s and 1880s competition and rivalry among the pro-British ponlop of Tongsa and pro-Tibetan ponlop of Paro renewed. This resulted in the ascendancy of the ponlop of Tongsa, Ugyen Wangchuck. He defeated his political rivals and enemies and united Bhutan amidst civil wars and rebellions during 1882-1885.
During this time, British to offset the Russian advances in Lhasa, wanted to open trade ties with Tibet.
Ugyen Wangchuck volunteered to accompany the British mission as a mediator and the Anglo-Tibetan Convention of 1904 was secured. In appreciation of his services Ugyen Wangchuck was knighted and accrued greater powers and emerged as a national leader of Bhutan.
He removed his rival, ponlop of Paro and established his supporter and relative belonging to Dorji family, in his place.
When the last shabdrung died in 1903 and a reincarnation did not appear till 1906 Ugyen Wangchuck took control of the civil administration of Bhutan.
In 1907 the 54th Druk Desi was forced to retire and shabdrung system came to an end.
In November 1907, in the assembly of heads of important families, leading Buddhist monks and government officials it was decided to do away with the 300 years old dual power system and Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first hereditary king (Druk Gyalpo - Dragon King) of the kingdom of Bhutan, and he reigned from 1907 to 1926.
The top government position of gongzim (chief chamberlain), was created and the Dorji family became hereditary holders of the position in the kingdom.
King Ugyen Wangchuck, to protect the future of Bhutan Kingdom from China, entered into another treaty with British, the Treaty of Punakha, signed on January 8, 1910. The king of Bhutan agreed to be guided by the advice of the British Government in regard to external relations of the kingdom and the British agreed to double their annual stipend to 100,000 rupees and agreed to exercise no interference in the internal administration of Bhutan kingdom.
The first hereditary king of Bhutan is credited with many modernisation programmes of Bhutan Kingdom. Internal communications were improved, schools followed western-style, trade and commerce with India was encouraged and the Buddhist monastic system was revitalized in the kingdom.
King Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926 and his son, Jigme Wangchuck succeeded him as King of Bhutan.

Reign of the second Bhutan King Jigme Wangchuck

King Jigme Wangchuck reigned between 1926 to 1952. The second King followed his fathers foot-steps and built more roads, dispensaries and modern schools. Monasteries and district administration were brought under royal control. However Bhutan Kingdom still remained isolated from the international community.
When India attained freedom from British rule, it became the defacto protector of the kingdom.
On 8th August 1949, Treaty of Friendship was signed between the Government of Bhutan and Government of India in similar terms of Treaty of Punaka.
Similar to treaty with British, India will not interfere in the internal affairs of Kingdom of Bhutan and India will also give subsidy of 500,000 rupees per annum.
Bhutan on its part will be guided by the India in its external affairs.

Reign of the third Bhutan king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck

The third Dragon king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, was enthroned in the year 1952. He made continued efforts to modernize Bhutan kingdom. His Europe educated wife, who was also cousin of the king of Sikkim, was of great support to him in his modernization programmes. The most important step in this aspect was the establishment of the National Assembly (the Tshogdu) in the year 1953. It was a welcome move towards a constitutional monarchy.
Major land reforms were taken up and slavery and serfdom were abolished. Judiciary was separated from the executive branch of government.
With Indian funding roads were constructed from the central Bhutan to Indian plains.
Many institutions like national museum, national library, national stadium and national archives were established in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
The position of gongzim held by Dorji was upgraded to lonchen (prime minister).
During the period between 1962 and 1965 there was turmoil in the Bhutan Kingdom with assassination of Dorji when the King was in Switzerland for medical care.
Dorji's brother, Lhendup Dorji took over as acting lonchen. There was power struggle between the Dorji family and the Tibetan consort of the king.
This lead to the family of Dorji being exiled from the Bhutan Kingdom.
In July 1965 there was an assassination attempt on the king and the king pardoned the would-be assassins.
In May 1968 gave further powers to National assembly with power to remove ministers and the king himself.
In 1969 the king renounced his veto power and offered to step down if two-thirds of the legislature passes a no-confidence vote.
In 1971 after holding observer status for three years, the Kingdom of Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations.
King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck rule lasted until his death in July 1972.

Rein of the fourth Bhutan king Jigme Singye Wangchuck

Jigme Singye Wangchuck succeeded his father when he was seventeen years old. He was educated in India and Britain.
As his mother was the sister of the lonchen Jigme Palden Dorji, there was reconciliation between the royal family and the family of Dorji.
The formal coronation of the king took place in June 1974. When there was division of Pakistan, Bhutan kindom was among the first nations to recognise the new Nation of Bangladesh.
Bhutan kingdom gradually established diplomatic relations with other nations and started joining international organisations.
Many of the countries with which diplomatic relations were established provided aid for development of the Kingdom.
Official television broadcasting was introduced in Bhutan in 1999.
In the year 2003 with the help of Indian armed forces, Kingdom of Bhutan got rid of Indian separatist groups from its territory.
From 1988 Bhutan Kingdom is faced with the problem of citizenship of Nepali speaking residents now in UN refugee camps.
On 26th of March, 2005 a draft of the first Constitution of the kingdom was circulated and every citizen was requested to review it.
The fourth Druk Gyalpo, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, abdicted all his powers as King to his son Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on 14th December 2006.
It was prelude to prepare his son for the fulfledged transformation of Bhutan to a democratic form of government, slated for 2008.

Rein of the fifth Bhutan king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was educated at Yangchenphu Higher secondary school, Bhutan.
Khesar studied abroad at Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts), Cushing Academy and Wheaton College in Massachusetts, United States.
Then he graduated from Magdalen College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, where he completed the Foreign Service Program and an MPhil in Politics.
He became king on 14 December 2006, and was officially crowned as king on 6 November 2008.
King of Bhutan signed a new treaty with India in February 2007, replacing the earlier 1949 treaty.
The kingdom of Bhutan held its first general elections on March 2008 for the National Assembly.
Of the two political parties contesting the elections, Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party won 45 of the seats and the the two members of People's Democratic Party won the remaining 2 seats.
Jigme Yoser Thinley was elected to head the Government of the kingdom and is holding the post of Lyonchen (prime minister).
king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as Head of the Kingdom of Bhutan is embarked upon further modernizing the kingdom and achieving 'gross national happiness'.

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