Royal pin-ups meet their equals

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema. Photo / AP
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema. Photo / AP

The Land of the Thunder Dragon is a remote mountain kingdom where television was banned until 1999 and parliamentary democracy arrived only eight years ago.

Yet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -William and Kate - will have plenty in common with the King and Queen of Bhutan on an official visit to the Himalayan country in April.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck are Asia's youngest and most glamorous royal couple, with a celebrity status that will be entirely familiar to their guests.

The couple also married in 2011, they share their guests' passion for conservation, and are proud of Bhutan's constitutional powers to protect the environment, which include a law that 60 per cent of the country must remain as forest.

Queen Jetsun Pema, 25, studied art history - in which the Duchess has a degree - at private Regent's University in London and she too is considered a fashion icon. She is pregnant and may have a newborn when her visitors arrive, providing the perfect icebreaker, although the Cambridges will leave Prince George and Princess Charlotte at home.

The 35-year-old fifth Druk Gyalpo or Dragon King, who studied international relations at Magdalen College, Oxford, is a pin-up in the Far East. He was nicknamed Prince Charming in Thailand on a visit in 2006 and added to his army of female fans in Japan in 2011. The couple are fluent in English.

Bhutan, the size of Denmark but with a population of 750,000, is landlocked between India and China.

William and Kate have much to learn about its history and etiquette. Bhutan was isolated for centuries, shunning foreign influences.

It is bad manners to say yes when food is offered although accepting after two or three offers is fine.

They are also likely to spot a racy custom in the otherwise conservative Buddhist land: giant phalluses are often painted on homes to ward off evil spirits.

The Duke and Duchess added their visit to Bhutan, at the request of the Government, to a trip to India.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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