Jubilant Bhutanese descend to Punakha to witness royal wedding

Jubilant Bhutanese descend to Punakha to witness royal wedding

Attired in traditional dresses and carrying the kingdom's flag, people from different parts of Punakha Valley -- from the elderly to youngsters -- set out on foot from their homes to attend the wedding of their beloved King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck with his sweetheart Jetsun Pema, admired by everyone for her stunning looks.

The Wangchuck dynasty, which has been ruling the country for the past 100 years, is highly revered by the Bhutanese people.

The Bhutanese, including nomads, climbed down high mountains to reach here and converged at a stadium near an imposing 17th century monastic fortress to celebrate the wedding, which the 31-year-old King had promised would be "simple and traditional."

Hundreds of people patiently stood in long queues for security check before they were allowed to enter the stadium to dance, sing and celebrate the royal wedding.
They were later joined by the royal couple at the packed stadium after elaborate wedding ceremonies that lasted for over three hours.

Nomads, who usually roam around the mountains with their animals, also joined fellow Bhutanese in cherishing the moment, which the country's people had been waiting for long as they felt it would ensure the continuity of the royal family and its rule.

17-year-old Tashi Tshering, who stays 6 km away from Punakha, got up early at 3 am local time today and began his journey to the fortress, which is located between two rivers and accessed by a wooden bridge.

"This is the moment Bhutanese have been waiting for. Finally, we have a Queen. She has been accompanying the King on his tours," he said.

Punakha, the administrative centre of the Punakha Valley, was the seat of government until 1955 when the capital was moved to Thimphu. It is located at 1,200 metres above sea level.

Ten kilometres away from Punakha, groups of people wearing thick jackets, including children, could be seen on the roads at 5 am, hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

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