Palden Thondup Namgyal

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Palden Thondup Namgyal
The 12th Chogyal
Palden Thondup Namgyal.jpg
Chogyal of Sikkim
Reign 2 December 1963 – 10 April 1975
Coronation 4 April 1965
Predecessor Tashi Namgyal
Successor Monarchy abolished
Born (1923-05-23)23 May 1923
Gangtok, Sikkim
Died 29 January 1982(1982-01-29) (aged 58)
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York City, United States
Spouse Samyo Kushoe Sangideki (1950–1957)
Hope Cooke (1963–1980)
Issue Prince Tenzing Kunzang Jigme Namgyal
Prince Tobgyal Wangchuk Tenzing Namgyal
Princess Yangchen Dolma Namgyal
Prince Palden Gyurmed Namgyal
Princess Hope Leezum Namgyal Tobden
A son
Omo
House Namgyal
Father Tashi Namgyal
Mother Kunzang Dechen
Religion Buddhism

Palden Thondup Namgyal (23 May 1923 – 29 January 1982) was the 12th and last Chogyal (king) of the Kingdom of Sikkim.

Biography[edit]

Namgyal was born on 23 May 1923 at the Royal Palace, Park Ridge, Gangtok.[1]

At six, he became a student at St. Joseph's Convent in Kalimpong, but had to terminate his studies due to attacks of malaria. From age eight to eleven he studied under his uncle, Rimpoche Lhatsun, in order to be ordained a Buddhist monk; he was subsequently recognised as the reincarnated leader of both Phodong and Rumtek monasteries. He later continued his studies at Saint Joseph's College in Darjeeling and finally graduated from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, in 1941. His plans to study science at Cambridge were dashed when his elder brother, the crown prince, a member of the Royal Air Force was killed in a plane crash in 1941.

Namgyal served as adviser for internal affairs for his father, Sir Tashi Namgyal, the 11th Chogyal, and led the negotiating team which established Sikkim's relationship to India after independence in 1949. He married Samyo Kushoe Sangideki in 1950, a daughter of an important Tibetan family of Lhasa, and together they had two sons and a daughter. Samyo Kushoe Sangideki died in 1957.

King and Queen of Sikkim and their daughter watch birthday celebrations, Gangtok, Sikkim in May 1971.

In 1963, Namgyal married Hope Cooke, a twenty-two-year-old socialite from New York City, USA; she was a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers in the state of New York. The marriage brought worldwide media attention to Sikkim. The couple, who had two children, divorced in 1980.

Shortly after their marriage, his father died and Namgyal was crowned the new Chogyal on an astrologically favourable date in 1965. In 1975, as the result of a referendum, Sikkim became a state of India and the monarchy abolished. He opposed the referendum and the annexation to India.[2][3]

Namgyal was an amateur radio operator, call-sign AC3PT, and was a highly sought after contact on the airwaves. The international callbook listed his address as: P.T. Namgyal, The Palace, Gangtok, Sikkim.

Palden died of cancer in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, in the United States on 29 January 1982.[4]

Upon his death, 31 members of the State Legislative Assembly offered khadas to the Chogyal as a mark of respect.

He founded the Order of the Precious Jewel of the Heart of Sikkim in September 1972.[5]

Legacy[edit]

Namgyal shaped a "model Asian state" where the literacy rate and per capita income were twice as high as neighbors Nepal, Bhutan and India.[6] He preserved autonomy for a tiny country threatened on two sides, by an India "intent on annexation" and an equally aggressive Communist-dominated Tibet.

His second son from his first marriage, Tobgyal Wangchuk Tenzing Namgyal, was named the 13th Chogyal, but the position no longer confers any official authority.

Titles[edit]

King and Queen of Sikkim (1966).
  • 1923–1941: Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal.
  • 1941–1947: Maharajkumar Sri Panch Palden Thondup Namgyal.
  • 1947–1954: Maharajkumar Sri Panch Palden Thondup Namgyal, OBE.
  • 1954–1963: Maharajkumar Padma Bhushan Sri Panch Palden Thondup Namgyal, OBE.
  • 1963–1965: His Highness Muwong Chogyal Padma Bhushan Sri Panch Chempo Palden Thondup Namgyal, Maharaja Chogyal of Sikkim, OBE.
  • 1965–1982: Major-General His Highness Muwong Chogyal Padma Bhushan Sri Panch Chempo Palden Thondup Namgyal, Maharaja Chogyal of Sikkim, OBE.

Honours[edit]

(ribbon bar, as it would look today)

Order of the Precious Jewel of the Heart of Sikkim.gif Order BritEmp (civil) rib.PNG IND Padma Bhushan BAR.png Indian Independence medal 1947.svg

Ordre de l'Etoile Noire Commandeur ribbon.svg King Mahendra Investiture Medal 1956.gif King Jigme Singye Investiture Medal 1974.gif King Birendra Investiture Medal 1975.png

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Royal Ark
  2. ^ Sikkim Voters OK Merger With India Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 16 April 1975
  3. ^ Sikkim Votes On Indian Merger Daytona Beach Morning Journal, 15 April 1975
  4. ^ "Palden Thondup Namgyal, Deposed Sikkim King, Dies". New York Times. 30 January 1982. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 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. ... 
  5. ^ Royal Ark
  6. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1981/03/08/books/the-fairy-tale-that-turned-nightmare.html?pagewanted=2
  7. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Final Programmes for The Coronation and The Silver Jubilee Celebration

External links[edit]

Palden Thondup Namgyal
Born: 23 May 1923 Died: 29 January 1982
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Tashi Namgyal
Chogyal of Sikkim
2 December, 1963–1975
Title abolished
Sikkim joined India by referendum
Titles in pretence
New title — TITULAR —
Chogyal of Sikkim
10 April 1975 – 29 January 1982
Succeeded by
Wangchuk Namgyal