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Dubbed ‘the Kate Middleton of the Himalayas’, meet Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan
Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan, 25, is relatively known outside of of the tiny kingdom, nestled between India and China.
However the youngest queen in the world, who has been dubbed the ‘Kate Middleton of the Himalayas’, has charmed the local people with her delicate beauty and modest demeanour.
The stunning royal lives in a humble cottage and shnned an exotic honeymoon in favour of a walking tour to meet her subjects. Yet she is set to be thrust into the international spotlight when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Bhutan tomorrow.
So who is Jetsun Pema, the woman who so captivated King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan that he renounced his right to take multiple wives and vowed that she was the only woman he would ever marry?
Jetsun, who recently gave birth to her first child – a baby boy – is the second of five children, and although she is officially a commoner her family is not without royal connections.
Her father Dhondup Gyaltshen, a pilot with Drukair – the country’s national airline – is the half brother of a former queen consort.
Meanwhile her mother Sonam Chuki, who comes from one of Bhutan’s oldest noble families, is the goddaughter of a Bhutanese prince
Her older sister Yeatso Lhamo is also married to the King’s brother Prince Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
Born in Thimphu, Jetsun spent her early years being educated close to home before attending boarding school in India where she proved to be a sporty student – just like her fellow royal Kate.
She enjoyed playing basketball and captained a school team, and her other hobbies included fine art and painting, as well as taking part in school bands and dance programmes.
Jestun also won prizes for public speaking, and is fluent in Hindi and English – as well as Dzongkha,, the national language of Bhutan – but was always modest despite her accomplishments.
‘She doesn’t have any airs,’ one of her former teachers said in an interview. ‘I think she didn’t even dream of becoming a queen.’
Jetsun’s family connections and resources allowed her to study in the UK, where she began her degree in international relations with psychology and art history at Regent’s University.
But her studies were cut short when, at the age of 21, her engagement to the King of Bhutan was announced.
It’s believed they were dating for more than three years before the King proposed, and their relationship raised eyebrows as it was a love match rather than a traditionally arranged marriage.
Breaking with protocol, the couple also lived together for a time before they tied the knot.
According to reports, Jetsun’s very first meeting with the future king of Bhutan happened during a family picnic in the capital Thimphu when she was just seven years old and the prince was 17.
He told a group of students before their wedding that he’d been so moved by her beauty and inner goodness, that he’d got down on his knees and said: ‘When you grow up, if I am single and not married and if you are single and not married, I would like you to be my wife, provided we still feel the same.’
Jetsun, 21, was still a student herself when her engagement to King Jigme Khesar was announced in May 2011.
He had been ruling since the abdication of his father, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, abdicated in 2006. The monarch, who had previously held absolute power, had decided to step down in order to pave the way for democracy and a constitutional monarchy.