Back in June, you will recall that many foreign royals joined the Thai monarchy, and Thailand’s grateful people, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s coronation. Among the most prominent royal visitors was His Royal Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and a youthful roving ambassador for benevolent Buddhist monarchy. He is the first son among the Bhutanese King’s 10 children, born to his four wives – the four sisters he married in 1979.
At the time, the Crown Prince received a huge amount of coverage, some of it focussing on mildly salacious elements of his private life. Many articles commented on “his movie star looks” and his personal status as a tourist drawcard for the remote Himalayan Kingdom.
Months later and aimlessly wandering a suburban Thai shopping mall, I bought a small souvenir of the Bhutanese Crown Prince’s Thai visit. It is a photographic, descriptive and biographical tribute, and includes pictures taken in Thailand, and some lower resolution snaps that are obviously copied from the ‘net.
The glossy publication includes over 50 photographs of the Prince – in traditional Bhutanese attire, in a business suit, with members of the Thai Royal family, and even lounging on a lawn, wearing the “sub-fusc” attire of an Oxford student after finishing exams. It should be noted that the Crown Prince was, until graduating in 2003, a politics masters student at Magdalen College, Oxford.
He was renowned, during his short time in Thailand, for executing a Thai style wai in front of the cameras. This only led to greater adoration. A famous shot of the Crown Prince, mid-wai, is featured on the cover of this publication and as a centrefold spread. I wonder how many bedroom walls this pin-up adorns.
During his time in Thailand, the Crown Prince attracted a torrent of glowing press coverage. An adoring public also voted him the most popular visiting royal in a controversial ABAC poll. For 39 baht, Thais can relive the magic of this visit. The whole episode is worth much further reflection in this year of unprecedented royal commemoration and public jubilation.