Another Monarch Off the Market: Bhutan’s King to Wed a Commoner

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REUTERS / Bhutan Royal Office for Media / Handout

Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (L) and his new fiancee Jetsun Pema pose in Bhutan

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of the small South Asian state of Bhutan has embraced the royal fad and found himself a commoner.

The beloved 31-year-old, Oxford-educated monarch announced his engagement to Jetsun Pema, 21 and a student at Regents College in London, during the opening session of parliament on Friday in the capital Thimphu. The address, which was broadcast on national television, was attended by members of the royal family and elected representatives.

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Afterwards, the king and his fiancée made their first public appearance at the Mountain Echoes literary festival, an event that, now in its second year, showcases Bhutanese literature and poetry. By Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reports, most local shopkeepers already had pictures of the couple on display along with their wares.

The occasion is unlikely to garner the gawking international interest that Britain’s recent royal nuptials did. But “his majesty’s wedding announcement is the talk of the town,” Sangay Duba, a senior Bhutanese official told the AP. “People are happy. This is what the Bhutanese were waiting to hear because ours is a hereditary monarchy, and this marriage will give us our next king.”

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The young monarch was adorned with Bhutan’s Raven Crown in 2008, after his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne, inheriting a Himalayan nation of nearly 700,000 that had just made the transition to democracy. In Bhutan, he goes by the affectionate moniker of “The People’s King.” In Thailand, he’s been dubbed “Prince Charming.”

The king looked pleased at the announcement of his wedding, which, according to media reports, will take place in October. “People might think that my queen should be highly educated, beautiful and the best of the best,” he said, grinning. “Jetsun Pema is a kind-hearted girl who is very supportive and whom I can trust. I cannot say how she might appear to the people, but to me, she is the one.” Not just “the one,” but the only one, it seems. Lucky girl. The king’s father was married to four sisters. (via the AP)

(MORE: See TIME’s complete coverage of Britain’s royal wedding.)

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