Preparing to become the consolidator
Druk Gyalpo Jigme Wangchuck was born to Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck and Ashi Tsundue Lhamo alias Lemo, the second consort, in 1905. The three sons from his first consort Ashi Rinchen had all died in their childhood. Thus, the birth of Druk Gyalpo Jigme Wangchuck was a great joy to his parents and the nation as there was no heir to the throne. He was the re-embodiment of Geshey Mindruk, the learned monk who had actually introduced Ashi Tsundue Lhamo to the King. The Queen also gave birth to Dasho Dorji, Dasho Naku and Ashi Wangmo.
The King was one of the first Bhutanese children to receive modern education. He studied in the school that was set up for him in the palace in Bumthang. He was educated in English, Hindi and Buddhist literature. As the heir to the throne, he was brought up in strict discipline and received adequate training in administration and political matters from his father. He also worked with other officials and attendants at the court like his father did during his own childhood.
In 1918 at the age of thirteen he was appointed as Trongsa Dronyer. This was an approach adopted to give hands on experience in administering and managing the real situations. Then, in 1923 he was appointed the fourteenth Trongsa Penlop. Till then, this post was retained by the King. This post ensured succession to the throne. In his capacity as the Trongsa Penlop he had to attend to his father and in the process acquired the art and wisdom that he would need later as a King.
In the same year of his installation as the Trongsa Penlop, he married Ashi Phuntsho Choden, the daughter of Dasho Jamyang of Chumey Zhelngo and Demcho. Later Druk Gyalpo Jigme Wangchuck also married Ashi Pema Dechen, the sister of his first consort. This marriage further strengthened the kinship ties of the royal family to the other important nobilities of Bhutan.
Ashi Phuntsho Choden gave birth to the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck while Ashi Chokey, Prince Namgyal Wangchuck, Ashi Deki Yangzom and Ashi Pema were born to Ashi Pema Dechen.
His early days can be seen as a preparation to succeed to the throne that his father had been offered by the people of Bhutan. If his father had united the Nation and the people together, the Second King had to be trained with knowledge, wisdom and statecraft enough to take the helm of the young Kingdom carved out by his father. He had to be trained to consolidate the system that his father had started. Thus, like his father, the days before his enthronement were the days that he sacrificed his youth and shouldered big responsibilities for the nation and the Bhutanese.
The Druk Gyalpo also carried the whole responsibility of managing all the funeral rituals of his mother in 1922 at a young age.
After the demise of Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck in 1926, Jigme Wangchuck was enthroned as the Second Druk Gyalpo on 14 March 1927 at Punakha in the presence of Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji, Chief Abbot, Monk Body and the senior officers. Colonel F.M. Bailey represented the British Indian Government and presented the insignia of Companion of the Indian Empire. His reign can be best described as a period of unification, and consolidation, of national integration, and of good friendly relations with the neighbouring countries.