President accorded grand ceremonial welcome in Bhutan

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Paro, Bhutan, Nov 5 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was today accorded a grand ceremonial welcome at Paro airport on her arrival by fourth king of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

The President, who came here to be the Chief Guest at the coronation ceremony of the fifth king of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, was received by Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley, the two princess and the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan.

Ms Patil was given a guard of honour and the national anthem of both countries were played. A large number of children and senior officials were waving Indian flags to welcome the Indian delegation.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who is a friend of the Bhutanese Royal family, has also arrived at the three-day-long grand enthronement ceremony in the world's youngest democracy.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra are also likely to come.

The occasion would also mark the completion of 100-year rule of the Wangchuk dynasty in the Himalayan Kingdom, which quantifies its prosperity by the Gross National Happiness.

The 28-eight-year-old Namgyal, who took over in December 2006 following the sudden abdication of his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck, would be formally enthroned after the traditional coronation ceremony.

Bhutan, which recently went to the polls and has emerged as the world's youngest democracy, would receive guests from 32 countries on this occasion. The ceremony is expected to be grand and the government has declared a week-long holiday from tomorrow.

Jigme Khesar Namgyal and his father share the unique milestone of being the youngest monarchs of their time. Jigme Singye Wangchuck had ascended the throne at 17 years of age in 1972 and ruled the country for 34 years. Now, Namgyal, who received education in United Kingdom and military training in India, would take over as King of Himalayan Kingdom situated between India and China.

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