Early life of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born to King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck in Dechenchholing Palace, Thimphu on 11 November 1955 corresponding to the Wood Sheep Year of the Bhutanese calendar. He grew up with the pace of modernization and economic development of the country which his father had set in motion.
From a very young age, the Prince received Buddhist as well as modern education from private tutors. He was then sent to St. Joseph’s College in Darjeeling, India to continue with his education. From there he proceeded to the United Kingdom to study in one of the biggest schools of London. On his return to Bhutan in 1970 he continued with his studies in Ugyen Wangchuck Academy in Paro where he studied along with a selected group of best students in Bhutan. This renewed his acquaintance with the spiritual and cultural heritage of Bhutan.
He was also trained in the statecraft and the art of governance by his father from a young age. In 1971 he was attached to his father and consequently, a year later, he served as the first Chairperson of the Planning Commission. Further, he also participated in the meetings of the Lhengye Zhungtshog, the State Council.
The Prince also toured extensively with his father to the remote pockets of Bhutan. This helped him to know the land first hand and develop close personal bonds with the people. Thus, these visits were useful to frame developmental plans and policies later when he succeeded to the Golden Throne. In May 1972, he received the post of Trongsa Penlop and made him the leader of the eastern regions of Bhutan, Sharchog Khorlo Tsib Gyed.
Unfortunately for the young Crown Prince, Trongsa Penlop Jigme Singye Wangchuck and the Nation, the third Druk Gyalpo’s demise at Nairobi in Kenya on 21 July 1972. made him shoulder the daunting responsibility of steering the Nation on the path of progress. He was just 17 years old. On 2 June 1974 Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck was officially enthroned as the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and became the youngest monarch in the world. During the coronation address to the Nation, the King pledged to serve Bhutan and its people with fidelity and to the best of ability, which was already taking shape with institutional modernization.