The history of Bhutan | The monarchy | Jigme Dorje Wangchuck

Jigme Dorje Wangchuck, the third king

Jigme Dorje Wangchuck is seen as the father of modern Bhutan. From an early age on, he was prepared for the throne. Like his father, he was educated according to Buddhist principles and learned English and Hindi; added to this, as a child, he also had insights into the etiquette of the court and the administration of the country.

He was appointed chief of protocol (drönyer) of Tongsa at fifteen, but his father thought that his heir had to broaden his horizon and also get to know the Western world. Soon after his appointment, therefore, Jigme Wangchuck sent his son to England for six months. On his return, Jigme Dorje Wangchuck worked as attendant to his father, and was therefore well prepared to take over the kingdom when his father died in 1952.


In contrast to his father and grand-father, Bhutan's third king did not keep his country secluded from the world any longer. On the contrary, he looked for international political acceptance and contacts, on the one hand, and, on the other, asked small European states to join the Bhutanese government in developmental projects in the country.

As the third king was the one to lead Bhutan onto the path of modernisation and development, his people have rightfully given him the nick-name of »Father of modern Bhutan«. When he died at the early age of 44 in 1972, the country had gone through major changes and was on a clearly marked course of political development, which has been continued by his son Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

The history of Bhutan
.  Bhutan before ..
.  Shabdrung Ngawang ..
.  The monarchy
.  .  Jigme Namgyel
.  .  Ugyen Wangchuck
.  .  Jigme Wangchuck
.  .  Jigme Dorje Wangchuck
.  .  .  International ..
.  .  .  Internal reforms
.  .  Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Bhutans religion
Gods and Sacred ..

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King Jigme Dorje Wangchuck and Queen Kesang Chödrön Dorje in the Palace of Thimphu.
Photo by Armin Haab, 1957

Fibula (tinkhab), silver with traces of fire-gilding, turquoise; L: 21 cm
Chain: length: 24 cm; ring: 6,5 cm x 5 cm; loans from a private collection
These fibulas are of royal family provenance. They are to fasten the ladies' wrapover dress (kira*) at the shoulders. The two rings are worked as a couple of fish, a Buddhist symbol of the skill to swim through the ocean of the cycle of rebirths with the help of the Buddhist teachings.