Bhutan was founded by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century and unified under his rule. After his death, the government was led by Druk Desi and Je Khenpo. In 1907, the Wangchuk dynasty began, with King Ugyen Wangchuk as the first hereditary ruler. Druk Gyalpo, the thunder dragon king, signed the Anglo-Bhutanese Treaty with the British India Raj in 1910 and opened numerous schools.
Jigme Wangchuk, Bhutan’s second king, ascended in 1952 and signed a 1949 Indo-Bhutan treaty with India. He maintains Bhutan’s isolation and avoids influencing World War II.
“Father of modern Bhutan”, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the third king of Bhutan, improved relations with India by inviting Nehru and Indira Ghandi to visit in 1958. He established a high court and national assembly, planned economic development, joined the Columbo Plan, and joined the United Nations in 1971. He abolished slavery and introduced land reforms while preserving Bhutan’s customs and traditions.
King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the fourth hereditary king of Bhutan, was educated in Bhutan, India, and Great Britain. He promoted socio-economic progress and introduced the concepts of “gross national happiness” and “One Nation, One People.” During his reign, Bhutan made significant progress in communications, hydro-electric power development, education, health, the financial sector, environmental protection, and rural development. In December 2006, King abdicated, and the throne was transferred to King Jigme Kesar Namgyal Wangchuck (the fifth hereditary king of Bhutan). The king’s coronation ceremony in 2008 emphasized democratic participation and urged Bhutanese youth to improve education, business, and civil services. The King signed a new treaty of friendship with India in 2007. The king married Queen Jetsun Pema in 2011.
Bhutan transitioned to parliamentary democracy with the palace, often seen as a gift from the golden throne. The fourth king emphasized a sustainable system, involving citizens and adhering to traffic rules. Religion was not a barrier to democracy, and citizens actively participated in the process, even in isolated areas.