Jigme Dorji Wangchuck

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Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Name.svg
3rd King of Bhutan
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.jpg
Reign 30 March 1952 – 21 July 1972
Coronation 27 October 1952 [1]
Predecessor Jigme Wangchuck
Successor Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Born (1929-05-02)2 May 1929
Thruepang Palace, Trongsa
Died 21 July 1972(1972-07-21) (aged 43),m/o'i[iy'
Nairobi, Kenya
Burial Bhutan (Tsirang)
Spouse Ashi Kesang Choden
Issue Sonam Choden Wangchuck
Dechan Wangmo Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Pema Lhaden Wangchuck
Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck
House Wangchuck Dynasty
Father Jigme Wangchuck
Mother Phuntsho Choden

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (Wylie: 'jigs med rdo rje dbang phyug; 2 May 1929 – 21 July 1972) was the Third Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan.

He began to open Bhutan to the outside world, began modernization, and took the first steps toward democratization.

Education and Royal Wedding[edit]

His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was born in 1928 in Thruepang Palace in Tongsa (also spelled Trongsa.[2] At a young age, he was apprenticed in etiquette and leadership at the royal court of his father the King. His Majesty was educated in a British manner in Kalimpong and went on study tours and stay to many foreign countries such as Scotland and Switzerland from where he drew inspiration to develop Bhutan with suitable adaptations.[3] In 1943, he was appointed Tongsa Dronyer and then elevated as Paro Penlop in 1950, upon the death of Paro Penlop, Tshering Penjor (1902–1949). His Majesty married Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck (born 1930), the daughter of Gongzim (Lord Chamberlain) Sonam Tobgay (1896–1953), in 1951. The royal wedding was held in Paro Garden Palace. The following year, His Majesty became the King after his father died in Kuenga Rabten Palace. Coronation was held in Punakha dzong on 27 October 1952.[3]

Father of modern Bhutan[edit]

During his 20-year reign that ended in June 1972, the fundamental reorientation of Bhutanese society began.[4] His Majesty not only achieved the reorganisation of society and government, but also consolidated in an impressive way Bhutan's sovereignty and security. He mobilised resources from the international donors as aid. His Majesty's strategy was to broaden the source of aid by developing relationships with other countries. Bhutan joined the Colombo Plan in 1962 to obtain international aid.[5] However, India became the main source of financial and technical assistance. He was a deft and farsighted planner in the sense that he modernised Bhutan without destabilizing its culture and tradition. His Majesty brought modern techniques and methods to preserve and promote culture of Bhutan, yet at the same time, he introduced Western science and technology.[4] He was a forerunner among environmentalists in this part of the world. The Manas Sanctuary established in 1966 was one of the first in the region.[6]

Political and social reforms[edit]

His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was inherently interested in emancipation and equality. In the context of Bhutan, there were small groups who were bonded labourers. They would work on the farms of the aristocratic and prominent families. In return, they would receive food, lodging and clothes. As soon as His Majesty became the King, the labourers who worked on the royal lands were made into tenants and sharecroppers instead of indentured labourers.[7] Later, similar indentured labourers were set free in other areas of the country, especially in some parts of Eastern Bhutan, where they were concentrated. In 1953, His Majesty, realising that hitherto the decision of the King and that of the high officials were binding on the country, wanted them to be shared. As a result, His Majesty opened the National Assembly of Bhutan in 1953 in Punakha dzong.[4] For the first time elders from different gewogs were invited to voice their concerns, ideas and solutions for the future of this country. At the same time, it was a forum for His Majesty to share his larger vision for Bhutan in the years to come. After the National Assembly was established in 1953, His Majesty drafted and devised a series of progressive laws for the Kingdom. The King brought out a holistic set of laws covering fundamental aspects of Bhutanese life such as land, livestock, marriage, inheritance, property and so forth. The Thrimzhung Chenmo (Supreme Law) was passed by the National Assembly in 1959. The laws are very organic, coherently interrelated within themselves and to the evolving reality and manifested his vision of a law-based society.[8] Along with the promulgation of Thrimzhung Chenmo, a mechanism to implement and enforce laws was needed. His Majesty decided to open the judiciary, first with the appointment of Thrimpons (judges) in districts, and then finally to the High Court, which was set up in 1968. These administrative and social reforms were prior to any economic modernisation programmes. In 1955, he intensified the conversion of commodity taxes to cash taxes by assessing land for cash taxation.[7] Cash taxes were nominal, but moving from commodity taxes to cash taxes was a radical step at that time. Apart from promulgation of better laws and tax reforms, the Royal Bhutan Army was formally established in 1963. Furthermore, the entitlements of all officials were converted from commodities to cash and new designations were given. His Majesty established new Ministries in 1968.[9]

Culture and education[edit]

His Majesty paid considerable policy attention on preserving Bhutanese culture so that Bhutan could always perpetuate itself as a culturally distinct nation, in particular with a flourishing Buddhist culture. The Third King established Simtokha Rigzhung Lobdra (now known as the Institute of Language and Cultural Studies) in 1967, where a new breed of traditional scholars could be nurtured.[4] His Majesty also increased the number of monks in many dratshangs. His Majesty is the father of Dzongkha as the national language. The systematic phonetic, syntax and grammatic rules were devised under the command of Third King so that Dzongkha could be enhanced from a widely spoken to a written language. To propagate culture and traditions in schools, and to study scientific disciplines as well as humanities, the Third King established modern education on a wide spread basis. He established what were then the centres of education excellence with two public schools: Yangchenphug, in western Bhutan in 1969, and the other, Kanglung, in eastern Bhutan in 1968.[4] An Agriculture Department was created to improve nutrition and to generate income from horticulture. The Kingdom’s free health service was also founded.

Infrastructure Development[edit]

Modernising Bhutan's infrastructure for transportation, communications, education, health system and agriculture started after India was receptive enough to offer aid. India became independent in 1947, and was not in any immediate position to help Bhutan. His Majesty officially visited India in 1954. The first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made a historic journey to Bhutan in September 1958. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck then paid repeated visits to India.[4] A year after Nehru visited Bhutan in 1958, the development of Bhutan's modern infrastructure began, with assistance from India. Although road construction started in 1959, a large scale undertaking became systematic two years later in 1961, with the commencement of the 1st Five Year Plan (FYP) that envisaged construction of 177 km of road, 108 schools, three hospitals, and 45 clinics.[4][10] In 1961, motor road transport reached Thimphu. The systematic envisioning of the economic future of Bhutan through FYPs was put into practice in 1961. The idea of budgeting and programming on a five-year basis is a legacy from that period. The construction of roads expanded vigorously to the end of His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck’s reign. In fact, his very last visit to central Bhutan was partly to open the Zhunglam, the highway between Wangdiphodrang and Tongsa, in 1971.[4]

Multilateral and bilateral relations[edit]

His Majesty’s first and foremost priority was to continue deepening the excellent relationship with India. The second priority was to diversify the relationship with other countries. He intended to strike close economic relationship with Bangladesh. Bhutan was the first nation after India to recognise the independence of Bangladesh.[4] His Majesty poured his energy and determination to make Bhutan a member of United Nations. One of the crowning glories of his era was enabling Bhutan to join the United Nations in 1971, when it became its 125th member.[11]


  • 1929–1944: Dasho Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
  • 1944–1946: Trongsa Dronyar Dasho Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
  • 1946–1952: Paro Penlop Dasho Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
  • 1952–1963: His Highness Sri Panch Maharaj Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Maharaja of Bhutan
  • 1963–1972: His Majesty Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Mang-pos Bhur-ba'i rgyalpo, King of Bhutan[12]


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Royal Ark
  2. ^ Tshewang, Lopen Pema (1994). ’Brug gi rgyal rabs: ’Brug gsal ba’i sgron me. Thimphu: National Library. 
  3. ^ a b Michael, Aris (2005). The Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarchy in Bhutan (2 ed.). Chicago: Serindia Publications. ISBN 978-1932476217. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i dpal ‘brug zhib ‘jug lte ba (2008). ‘brug brgyd ‘zin gyi rgyel mchog gsum pa mi dwang ‘jigs med rdo rjé dwang phyug gi rtogs brjod bzhugs so (The Biography of the Third King of Bhutan). Thimphu: The Centre for Bhutan Studies. ISBN 978-99936-14-49-4. 
  5. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, Thimphu, Bhutan
  6. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, Thimphu, Bhutan
  7. ^ a b Ura, Karma (1995). The Hero with a Thousand Eyes, A Historical Novel. Thimphu: Karma Ura. ISBN 978-8175250017. 
  8. ^ Resolutions Adopted During the 28th Session of the National Assembly of Bhutan, National Assembly of Bhutan (1968), Thimphu
  9. ^ Gross National Happiness Commission. "1st Five Year Plan (1961-1966)" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  10. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Website, Thimphu, Bhutan
  11. ^ "BHUTAN. The Wangchuk Dynasty – GENEALOGY". The Royal Ark online. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 

External References[edit]

  • Rinchen, Gedun (1972). Chos ’byung blo gsar rna ba’i rgyan. Thimphu: Tango Drubde. 
  • Lopen Nado (1986). ’Brug dkar po. Bumthang: Tharpaling Monastery. 
  • Dasho Lama Sa-ngag (2005). sMyos rabs yang gsal me long. Thimphu: KMT Publishers. 
  • Dasho Tenzin Dorji (1988). ’Brug shar phyogs kyi rje dpon byung rabs blo gsar byis pa dga’ ba’i rna rgyan. n.p. 
  • Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi (2007). rGyal rabs sngon med bstan bcos zla ba. Thimphu: National Library of Bhutan. 
  • Rustomji, Nari (1978). Bhutan: The Dragon Kingdom in Crisis. Delhi: Oxford University Press. 
  • Yonten Thayge; Kuenga Gyatsho (2003). The Necklace of Pearls: Biography of the 13th Druk Desi Sherab Wangchuk (1697-1765). Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies. 
  • Mehra, G.N. (1974). Bhutan: Land of the Peaceful Dragon. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd. 

External links[edit]

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
Born: 2 May 1928 Died: 21 July 1972
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Jigme Wangchuck
King of Bhutan
Succeeded by
Jigme Singye Wangchuck