Hope Cooke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hope Cooke
Queen of Sikkim
Hope Cooke, Queen of Sikkim (LOC ppmsca.30180).jpg
Hope Namgyal, Queen of Sikkim in 1971, photograph by Alice Kandell
Predecessor Samyo Kushoe Sangideki
Successor Monarchy abolished
Born (1940-06-24) June 24, 1940 (age 76)
San Francisco, United States
Issue Prince Palden Gyurmed Namgyal
Princess Hope Leezum Namgyal Tobden (Mrs. Yep Wangyal Tobden)
House Namgyal
Religion Episcopalian
Occupation author, lecturer

Hope Cooke (born June 24, 1940) is an American woman who was the "Gyalmo" (Tibetan: རྒྱལ་མོ་Wylie: rgyal mo) (Queen Consort) of the 12th Chogyal (King) of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal.[1] Their wedding took place in March 1963. She was styled Her Highness Hope La, the Gyalmo of Sikkim.

Palden Thondup Namgyal was to be the last king of Sikkim as a protectorate state under India. By 1973, both the country and their marriage were crumbling; soon Sikkim was annexed by India. Five months after the takeover of Sikkim had begun, Cooke returned to the United States with her two birth children and stepdaughter to put them in schools in New York City. Cooke and her husband divorced in 1980; Namgyal died of cancer in 1982.[2]

Cooke wrote an autobiography, Time Change (Simon & Schuster 1981) and began a career as a lecturer, book critic and magazine contributor, later becoming an urban historian. In her new life as a student of New York City, Cooke published Seeing New York (Temple University Press 1995); worked as a newspaper columnist (Daily News); and taught at Yale University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Birch Wathen, a New York City private school.[3]

Early life and family[edit]

Cooke was born in San Francisco, to an Irish-American father, John J. Cooke, a flight instructor, and Hope Noyes, an amateur pilot. She was raised in the Episcopal Church.[4] Her mother, Hope Noyes, died in January 1942 at age 25 when the plane she was flying solo crashed.[5][6]

After her mother's death, Cooke and her half-sister, Harriet Townsend, moved to a New York City apartment across the hall from their maternal grandparents, Helen (Humpstone) and Winchester Noyes, the president of J.H. Winchester & Co., an international shipping brokerage firm. They were raised by a succession of governesses.[5] Her grandfather died when she was 12; her grandmother, three years later. Cooke became the ward of her aunt and uncle, Mary Paul (Noyes) and Selden Chapin, a former US Ambassador to Iran and Peru. She studied at Chapin School, in New York. She attended the Madeira School for three years before finishing high school in Iran.[7]

Marriage to the Crown Prince of Sikkim[edit]

The King and Queen of Sikkim (1966)

In 1959, Cooke was a freshman majoring in Asian Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and sharing an apartment with actress Jane Alexander. She went on a summer trip to India and met Palden Thondup Namgyal, Crown Prince of Sikkim, in the bar of the Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling, India. He was a recent widower with two sons and a daughter, and, aged 36, nearly twice her age. They were drawn to each other by the similar isolation of their childhoods. Two years later, in 1961, their engagement was announced; but the wedding was put off for more than a year because astrologers in both Sikkim and India warned that 1962 was an inauspicious year for marriages.[1]

On March 20, 1963, Cooke married Namgyal in a Buddhist monastery in a ceremony performed by fourteen lamas. Wedding guests included members of Indian royalty, Indian and Sikkimese generals and the U.S. Ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith. [1] She renounced her United States citizenship as required by Sikkim's laws and also as a demonstration to the people of Sikkim that she was not an "American arm" in the Himalayas.[8] She was dropped from the Social Register but the marriage was reported in National Geographic magazine. The New Yorker followed the royal couple on one of their yearly trips to America.[1] Although her husband was Buddhist, Cooke did not convert from Christianity to Buddhism.[4] He was crowned monarch of Sikkim on 4 April 1965. However, their marriage faced strains, and both had affairs, he with a married Belgian woman, and she with an American friend.[1][9]

At the same time, Sikkim was under strain due to annexation pressures from India. Crowds organized by agents from New Delhi, marched on the palace against the monarchy.[10] Cooke's husband was deposed on 10 April 1975 and confined to his palace under house arrest.[11] The couple soon separated. Cooke returned to Manhattan, where she raised her children, Palden and Hope Leezum.[12] In May 1975, Representative James W. Symington (D-MO) and Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) sponsored private bills to restore her citizenship,[13] however, after the bill passed the Senate, several members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration objected, and the bill had to be amended to grant her only U.S. permanent resident status before it could gain their support and pass Congress.[8][14] President Gerald Ford signed the bill into law on June 16, 1976.[15] By 1981, she still had not been able to regain U.S. citizenship.[16] The royal couple divorced in 1980, and Namgyal died of cancer in 1982 in New York City.[17][18][19][20][21]

Later life[edit]

With child support from Namgyal and an inheritance from her grandparents, she rented an apartment in Yorkville, Manhattan. This time around, she felt "profoundly displaced" in the city and started going on walking tours and then creating her own.[22] She studied Dutch journals, old church sermons, and newspaper articles to acquaint herself with the city and lectured on the social history of New York. She wrote a weekly column, "Undiscovered Manhattan", for The Daily News. She wrote an award-winning memoir of her life in Sikkim, Time Change: An Autobiography (1981), and, with Jacques d'Amboise, published Teaching the Magic of Dance.[7]

Cooke remarried in 1983 to Mike Wallace, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Distinguished Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.[7][23] They later divorced. Hope Cooke's son, Prince Palden, a New York banker and financial advisor, married Kesang Deki Tashi and has a son and two daughters. Cooke's daughter, Princess Hope, graduated from Milton Academy and Georgetown University, and married (and later divorced) Thomas Gwyn Reich Jr., a U.S. Foreign Service officer; she remarried, to Yep Wangyal Tobden.[citation needed]

Hope Cooke lived in London for a few years, before returning to the United States where she now lives in Brooklyn and currently works as a writer, historian, and lecturer.[7] She was a consultant for PBS's New York: A Documentary Film (1999–2001).[24] Cooke is a regular contributor to book reviews and magazines and also lectures widely.


Titles and styles[edit]

  • 1963 - 1980: Her Highness Hope La, the Gyalmo of Sikkim


  •  Sikkim :
    • Order of the Precious Jewel of the Heart of Sikkim.gif Order of the Precious Jewel of the Heart of Sikkim, 1st class [Denzong Thu ki Norbu] (22 May 1973).[26]
    • Palden Thondup Namgyal Coronation Medal (Sikkim).gif Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal Coronation Medal (4 April 1965).[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Fairy Tale That Turned Nightmare?". New York Times. March 8, 1981. 
  2. ^ "Palden Thondup Namgyal, Deposed Sikkim King, Dies". New York Times. January 30, 1982. Retrieved 2015-02-22. The deposed King of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, who had been undergoing treatment for cancer in New York, died last night from complications following an operation at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He was 58 years old. A family spokesman said his body was to be flown home to Sikkim for the funeral. ... 
  3. ^ "Yale Himalaya". Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Palden Thondup Namgyal, Deposed Sikkim King, Dies - Nytimes.Com
  5. ^ a b "Being a Queen Didn't Quite Work Out, but on This Cooke's Tour Hope Springs Eternal", People, March 9, 1981, Vol. 15, No. 9.
  6. ^ IMDb biography
  7. ^ a b c d Kaufman, Michael T. "About New York: When East Met West and Walking Around Led to Brooklyn" The New York Times, (February 24, 1993)
  8. ^ a b "Hope Cooke seeks to regain U.S. citizenship". Eugene Register-Guard. June 13, 1976. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  9. ^ Burns, Cherie (March 9, 1981). "Being a Queen Didn't Quite Work Out, but on This Cooke's Tour Hope Springs Eternal". People Magazine. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  10. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1981/03/08/books/the-fairy-tale-that-turned-nightmare.html
  11. ^ "Princess Hope L. Namgyal Is Engaged To Thomas Reich Jr., a U.S. Diplomat", New York Times, February 3, 1991.
  12. ^ "Books Of The Times; An Adult Fairy Tale" by Anatole Broyard, New York Times, February 28, 1981.
  13. ^ H.R. 6855 and S. 1699; 90 Stat. 2976 [1]
  14. ^ "Once a Queen, She Just Wants To Be an American Citizen". The Palm Beach Post. June 13, 1976. Retrieved April 9, 2013. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Hope Cooke allowed to stay". The Montreal Gazette. June 17, 1976. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ "'Fairy tale princess' is grateful to be back in America". Chicago Tribune. March 26, 1981. Retrieved April 9, 2013. Miss Cooke seems firmly replanted in the United States, though she has not been able to regain her citizenship 
  17. ^ "Hope Cooke seeks to regain U.S. citizenship". Eugene Register-Guard. 1976-06-13. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  18. ^ "Palden Thondup Namgyal, Deposed Sikkim King, Dies", New York Times, January 30, 1982.
  19. ^ Ashley Dunn, "Congress' Ticket for Foreigners: 'Private bills' have granted citizenship or residency to many who were ineligible under U.S. law.", Los Angeles Times, February 4, 1992.
  20. ^ "Hope Cooke's fate in hands of Ford, fairy-tale life ends". The Montreal Gazette. 1976-06-14. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  21. ^ "Hope Cooke allowed to stay". The Montreal Gazette. 1976-06-17. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Cooke's Tours", New York Magazine, p. 31 (September 26, 1988)
  23. ^ "Mike Wallace", John Jay College of Criminal Justice website; accessed December 3, 2014.
  24. ^ Hope Cooke at the Internet Movie Database
  25. ^ "Review of Time Change", New York Times, February 28, 1981.
  26. ^ a b Royal Ark


External links[edit]