The House of Wangchuck (Tibetan: དབང་ཕྱུག་རྒྱལ་བརྒྱུད་, Wylie: Dbang-phyug Rgyal-brgyud) has ruled Bhutan since it was reunified in 1907. Prior to reunification, the Wangchuck family had governed the district of Trongsa as descendants of Dungkar Choji. They eventually overpowered other regional lords and earned the favour of the British Empire. After consolidating power, the 12th Penlop of Trongsa Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck was elected Druk Gyalpo ("Dragon King"), thus founding the royal house. The position of Druk Gyalpo is more commonly known in English as King of Bhutan.
The Wangchuck dynasty ruled government power in Bhutan and established relations with the British Empire and India under its first two monarchs. The third, fourth, and fifth (current) monarchs have put the kingdom on its path toward democratization, decentralization, and development.
|Founded||17 December 1907 AD|
|Current head||Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck|
|Titles||Dragon King of Bhutan|
There have been five Wangchuck kings of Bhutan, namely:
The ascendency of the House of Wangchuck is deeply rooted in the historical politics of Bhutan. Between 1616 and 1907, varying administrative, religious, and regional powers vied for control within Bhutan. During this period, factions were influenced and supported by Tibet and the British Empire. Ultimately, the hereditary Penlop of Trongsa, Ugyen Wangchuck, was elected the first Druk Gyalpo by an assembly of his subjects in 1907, marking the ascendency of the House of Wangchuck.
Under Bhutan's early theocratic Tibetan dual system of government, decreasingly effective central government control resulted in the de facto disintegration of the office of Shabdrung after the death of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1651. Under the dual system of the government, Desi or the temporal rulers took control of civil administration and Je Khenpos took control of religious affairs. Two successor Shabdrungs – the son (1651) and stepbrother (1680) of Ngawang Namgyal – were effectively controlled by the Druk Desi and Je Khenpo until power was further splintered through the innovation of multiple Shabdrung incarnations, reflecting speech, mind, and body. Increasingly secular regional lords (penlops and dzongpons) competed for power amid a backdrop of civil war over the Shabdrung and invasions from Tibet, and the Mongol Empire. The penlops of Trongsa and Paro, and the dzongpons of Punakha, Thimphu, and Wangdue Phodrang were particularly notable figures in the competition for regional dominance.
Chogyal Minjur Tenpa (1613–1680; r. 1667–1680) was the first Penlop of Trongsa (Tongsab), appointed by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. He was born Damchho Lhundrub in Min-Chhud, Tibet, and led a monastic life from childhood. Before his appointment as Tongsab, he held the appointed post of Umzey (Chant Master). A trusted follower of the Shabdrung, Minjur Tenpa was sent to subdue kings of Bumthang, Lhuntse, Trashigang, Zhemgang, and other lords from Trongsa Dzong. After doing so, the Tongsab divided his control in the east among eight regions (Shachho Khorlo Tsegay), overseen by Dungpas and Kutshabs (civil servants). He went on to build Jakar, Lhuntse, Trashigang, and Zhemgang Dzongs.:106
Within this political landscape, the Wangchuck family originated in the Bumthang region of central Bhutan. The family belongs to the Nyö clan, and is descended from Pema Lingpa, a Bhutanese Nyingmapa saint. The Nyö clan emerged as a local aristocracy, supplanting many older aristocratic families of Tibetan origin that sided with Tibet during invasions of Bhutan. In doing so, the clan came to occupy the hereditary position of Penlop of Trongsa, as well as significant national and local government positions.
The Penlop of Trongsa managed central Bhutan; the rival Penlop of Paro controlled western Bhutan; and dzongpons controlled areas surrounding their respective dzongs. The Penlop of Paro, unlike Trongsa, was an office appointed by the Druk Desi's central government. Because western regions controlled by the Penlop of Paro contained lucrative trade routes, it became the object of competition among aristocratic families.
Although Bhutan generally enjoyed favorable relations with both Tibet and British India through the 19th century, extension of British power at Bhutan's borders as well as Tibetan incursions in British Sikkim defined politically opposed pro-Tibet and pro-Britain forces. This period of intense rivalry between and within western and central Bhutan, coupled with external forces from Tibet and especially the British Empire, provided the conditions for the ascendancy of the Penlop of Trongsa.
After the Duar War with Britain (1864–65) as well as substantial territorial losses (Cooch Behar 1835; Assam Duars 1841), armed conflict turned inward. In 1870, amid the continuing civil wars, the 10th Penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal ascended to the office of 48th Druk Desi. In 1879, he appointed his 17-year-old son Ugyen Wangchuck as the 23th Penlop of Paro. Jigme Namgyal reigned through his death 1881, punctuated by periods of retirement during which he retained effective control of the country.
The pro-Britain Penlop Ugyen Wangchuck ultimately prevailed against the pro-Tibet and anti-Britain Penlop of Paro after a series of civil wars and rebellions between 1882 and 1885. After his father's death in 1881, Ugyen Wangchuck entered a feud over the post of Penlop of Trongsa. In 1882, at the age of 20, he marched on Bumthang and Trongsa, winning the post of Penlop of Trongsa in addition to Paro. In 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck intervened in a conflict between the Dzongpens of Punakha and Thimphu, sacking both sides and seizing Simtokha Dzong. From this time forward, the office of Desi became purely ceremonial.
The 12th Trongsa Penlop, Ugyen Wangchuck, firmly in power and advised by Kazi Ugyen Dorji, accompanied the British expedition to Tibet as an invaluable intermediary, earning his first British knighthood. Penlop Ugyen Wangchuck further garnered knighthood in the KCIE in 1905. Meanwhile, the last officially recognized Shabdrung and Druk Desi had died in 1903 and 1904, respectively. As a result, a power vacuum formed within the already dysfunctional dual system of government. Civil administration had fallen to the hands of Penlop Ugyen Wangchuck, and in November 1907 he was unanimously elected hereditary monarch by an assembly of the leading members of the clergy, officials, and aristocratic families. His ascendency to the throne ended the traditional dual system of government in place for nearly 300 years. The title Penlop of Trongsa – or Penlop of Chötse, another name for Trongsa – continued to be held by crown princes.
As King of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck secured the Treaty of Punakha (1910), under which Britain guaranteed Bhutan's independence, granted Bhutanese Royal Government a stipend, and took control of Bhutanese foreign relations. After his coronation, Uygen further merited the British Delhi Durbar Gold Medal in 1911; the Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India (KCSI) in 1911; and the Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE) in 1921. King Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926.
The reign of the Second King Jigme Wangchuck (1926–1952) was characterized by an increasingly powerful central government and the beginnings of infrastructure development. Bhutan also established its first diplomatic relations with India under the bilateral Treaty of Friendship, largely patterned after the prior Treaty of Punakha.
The Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (r. 1952–1972) ascended the throne at the age of 16, having been educated in England and India. During the reign of the Third King, Bhutan began further political and legal reforms and started to open to the outside world. Notably, the Third King was responsible for establishing a unicameral National Assembly in 1953 and establishing relations with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958. Under Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan also modernized its legal codes.
The Third King died in 1972, and the Raven Crown passed to the 16-year-old Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The Fourth King was, like his father, educated in England and India, and had also attended Ugyen Wangchuck Academy at Satsham Choten in Paro. Reigning until 2006, the Fourth King was responsible for the development of the tourism industry, Gross National Happiness as a concept, and strides in democratization including the draft Constitution of Bhutan. The later years of his reign, however, also marked the departure of Bhutanese refugees in the 1990s amid the government's driglam namzha policy and citizenship laws that were overzealously enforced by some district officials. To the astonishment of the Bhutanese public, the Fourth King announced his abdication in 2005 and retired in 2006, handing the crown to his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Below is an extended patrilineal genealogy of the House of Wangchuck through the present monarch.
|Sumthrang Chorji||Sum-phrang Chos-rje||སུམ་ཕྲང་ཆོས་རྗེ་||1179||1265|
|Zhigpo Tashi Sengye||Zhig-po bKra-shis Seng-ge||ཞིག་པོ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་སེང་གེ་||1237||1322|
|Bajra Duepa||Bajra 'Dus-pa||བཇ་ར་འདུས་པ་||1262||1296|
|Depa Paljor||bDe-pa'i dPal-'byor||བདེ་པའི་དཔལ་འབྱོར་||1291||1359|
|Palden Sengye||dPal-den Seng-ge||དཔལ་དེན་སེང་གེ་||1332||1384|
|Tenpa Nyima[nb 1]||bsTan-pa'i Nyi-ma||བསྟན་པའི་ཉི་མ་||1382|
|Dongrub Zangpo||Don-grub bZang-po||དོན་གྲུབ་བཟང་པ་|
|Pema Lingpa||Padma Gling-pa||པདྨ་གླིང་པ་||1450||1521|
|Khochun Chorji||mKho-chun Chos-rje||མཁོ་ཆུན་ཆོས་རྗེ་||1505|
|Dungkar Choji[nb 2]||Dun-dkar Chos-rje||དུན་དྐར་ཆོས་རྗེ་||1578|
|Tenpa Gyalchen||bsTan-pa'i rGyal-mchan||བསྟན་པའི་རྒྱལ་མཆན་||1598||1694|
|Tenpa Nyima||bsTan-pa'i Nyi-ma||བསྟན་པའི་ཉི་མ་||1623||1689|
|Pema Rije||Padma Rig-rgyas (Pemarigyas)||པདྨ་རིག་རྒྱས་||1706||1763|
|Dasho Pila Gonpo Wangyal||Pi-la mGon-po rNam-rgyal||པི་ལ་མགན་པོ་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་||1782|
|Dasho Jigme Namgyal||rJigs-med rNam-rgyal||རྗིགས་མེད་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་||1825||1881|
|King Ugyen Wangchuck||O-rgyan dBang-phyug||ཨོ་རྒྱན་དབང་ཕྱུག་||1862||1926||1907||1926|
|King Jigme Wangchuck||'Jigs-med dBang-phyug||འཇིགས་མེད་དབང་ཕྱུག་||1905||1952||1926||1952|
|King Jigme Dorji[nb 3]Wangchuck||'Jigs-med rDo-rje dBang-phyug||འཇིགས་མེད་རྡོ་རྗེ་དབང་ཕྱུག་||1928||1972||1952||1972|
|King Jigme Singye Wangchuck||'Jigs-med Seng-ge dBang-phyug||འཇིགས་མེད་སེང་གེ་དབང་ཕྱུག་||1955||–||1972||2006|
|King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck||'Jigs-med Khe-sar rNam-rGyal dBang-phyug||འཇིགས་མེད་གེ་སར་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་དབང་ཕྱུག་||1980||–||2006||–|
Princess Ashi Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck (born 10 January 1980) is a princess of Bhutan. She is the daughter of the 4th King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Pem. She is a half-sister of the 5th King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.Dzongpen
Dzongpen (Dzongkha: རྗོང་དཔོན་; Wylie: rjong-dpon; also spelled "Dzongpon," "Dzongpön," "Jongpen," "Jongpon," "Jongpön") is a Dzongkha term roughly translated as governor or dzong lord. Bhutanese dzongpens, prior to unification, controlled certain areas of the country, but now hold no administrative office. Rather, dzongpens are now entirely subservient to the House of Wangchuck.
Traditionally, Bhutan comprised nine provinces: Trongsa, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Daga (also Taka, Tarka, or Taga), Bumthang, Thimphu, Kurtoed (also Kurtoi, Kuru-tod), and Kurmaed (or Kurme, Kuru-mad). The Provinces of Kurtoed and Kurmaed were combined into one local administration, leaving the traditional number of governors at eight. While some lords ruled from dzongs (dzongpens), others held the title of penlop (Dzongkha: དཔོན་སློབ་; Wylie: dpon-slob; also "Ponlop"), a title also translated as "governor," though penlops tended to be more powerful.
Dzongpens ruled in Byagha, Dalay, Dalingkote, Ha, Kham, Punakha (the "Punab"), Singhi, Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu (the "Thimphub"), Tuwa, and Wangdue Phodrang (the "Wangzob").Under the dual system of government, penlops and dzongpens were theoretically masters of their own realms but servants of the Druk Desi. In practice, however, they were under minimal central government control, and the Penlop of Trongsa and Penlop of Paro dominated the rest of the local lords. And while all governor posts were officially appointed by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, later the Druk Desi, some offices such as the Penlop of Trongsa were de facto hereditary and appointed within certain families. Penlops and dzongpens often held other government offices such as Druk Desi, Je Khenpo, governor of other provinces, or a second or third term in the same office.Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (Wylie: 'jigs med rdo rje dbang phyug; 2 May 1929 – 21 July 1972) was the Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan.He began to open Bhutan to the outside world, began modernization, and took the first steps toward democratization.Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (འཇིགས་མེད་གེ་སར་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་དབང་ཕྱུག་, Wylie: jigs med ge sar rnam rgyal dbang phyug), born 21 February 1980, is the current reigning Druk Gyalpo or "Dragon King" of the Kingdom of Bhutan. After his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne in his favour, he became King on 9 December 2006. A public coronation ceremony was held on 6 November 2008, an auspicious year that marked 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan.Jigme Namgyal (Bhutan)
Desi Jigme Namgyal of Bhutan (Dzongkha: འཇིགས་མེད་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་; Wylie: jigs med rnam rgyal, 1825–1881) is a forefather of the Wangchuck Dynasty. He served as 48th Druk Desi (Deb Raja, the secular executive) of Bhutan (1870–1873), and held the hereditary post of 10th Penlop of Trongsa. He was called the Black Ruler.Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck
Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck (born 5 February 2016) is the first child and heir apparent of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan and his wife, Jetsun Pema. His name was announced on 16 April 2016. Prior to the announcement, he was known only as The Gyalsey, which means "prince". Before his birth his paternal uncle Prince Jigyel Ugyen of Bhutan was the heir presumptive to King Jigme Khesar Namgyel. In honor of his birth, 108,000 trees were planted by thousands of volunteers in Bhutan. He is expected to become the sixth Druk Gyalpo (King of Bhutan).Jigme Palden Dorji
Dasho Jigme Palden Dorji (14 December 1919 – 6 April 1964) was a Bhutanese politician and member of the Dorji family. By marriage, he was also a member of the House of Wangchuck.The brother-in-law of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Dorji was close to his kinsman and accompanied the future king when he lived in the United Kingdom in 1950.Appointed Chief Minister (Gongzim) in 1952, he became the first man to hold the title Prime Minister of Bhutan (Lyonchen). This followed the upgrading of the old position in 1958 as part of a wider series of reforms by Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. As brother-in-law of the Dragon King of Bhutan Dorji helped to drive the king's modernisation policies. However his reforms antagonised both the military and the religious institutions leading to a corporal in the army assassinating him in April 1964. Namgyal Bahadur, head of the Royal Bhutan Army, was amongst those executed for the murder plot.Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck (born 11 November 1955) is the former king of Bhutan (Druk Gyalpo) from 1972 until his abdication in favor of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006. He is credited with many modern reforms in the country.Jigme Wangchuck
Jigme Wangchuck (Dzongkha: འཇིགས་མེད་དབང་ཕྱུག, Wylie: 'jigs med dbang phyug; 1905 – 30 March 1952) was the Druk Gyalpo or king of Bhutan from 21 August 1926, until his death. He was the eldest son of King Ugyen Wangchuck and was educated in English, Hindi and Buddhist literature.
Under his reign, Bhutan continued to maintain almost complete isolation from the outside world, maintaining only limited relations with the British Raj in India. He was succeeded by his son, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.Kesang Choden Wangchuck
Princess Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck (born 23 January 1982), is a member of the royal family of Bhutan. She is a daughter of the former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Pem, one of the former king's four wives, all of whom are sisters and held the title 'queen consort'. She is a half-sister of the current Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who became king following the abdication of his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck on 9 December 2006.Kingdom of Bumthang
The Kingdom of Bumthang was one of several small kingdoms within the territory of modern Bhutan before the first consolidation under Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1616. After initial consolidation, the Bumthang Kingdom became Bumthang Province, one of the nine Provinces of Bhutan. The region was roughly analogous to modern day Bumthang District. It was again consolidated into the modern Kingdom of Bhutan in 1907.
The Kingdom of Bumthang is particularly notable among its many contemporary Bhutanese chiefdoms because it was here that Buddhism first took root in Bhutan. The kingdom also contained several places relevant to particularly Bhutanese legends. The kingdom is also the ancestral homeland of the House of Wangchuck, which was among local elite families that surpassed the erstwhile Tibetan aristocracy. During Bhutan's early history, Bumthang served as a locus of exile for both Tibetan and Indian rulers, and as the home of Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa.List of rulers of Bhutan
Bhutan was founded and unified as a country by Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche in the mid–17th century. After his death in 1651, Bhutan nominally followed his recommended "dual system of government". Under the dual system, government control was split between a civil administrative leader, the Druk Desi (འབྲུག་སྡེ་སྲིད་, aka Deb Raja); and a religious leader, the Je Khenpo (རྗེ་མཁན་པོ་).
Both the Druk Desi and Je Khenpo were under the nominal authority of the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, a reincarnation of Ngawang Namgyal. In practice however, the Zhabdrung was often a child under the control of the Druk Desi, and regional penlops often administered their districts in defiance of the power of the Druk Desis until the rise of the unified House of Wangchuck in 1907.Since the rise of the unified House of Wangchuck in 1907, the Druk Gyalpo (འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་པོ་; lit. "Dragon King") have been the head of state of the Kingdom of Bhutan.Pema Lingpa
Pema Lingpa or Padma Lingpa (Tibetan: པདྨ་གླིང་པ་, Wylie: pad+ma gling pa, 1450–1521) was a Bhutanese saint and siddha of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered a terchen or "preeminent tertön" (Wylie: gter chen, discoverer of spiritual treasures) and is considered to be foremost of the "Five Tertön Kings" (Wylie: gter ston rgyal po lnga). In the history of the Nyingma school in Bhutan, Pema Lingpa is second only in importance to Padmasambhava.Penlop
Penlop (Dzongkha: དཔོན་སློབ་; Wylie: dpon-slob; also spelled Ponlop, Pönlop) is a Dzongkha term roughly translated as governor. Bhutanese penlops, prior to unification, controlled certain districts of the country, but now hold no administrative office. Rather, penlops are now entirely subservient to the House of Wangchuck.
Traditionally, Bhutan comprised nine provinces: Trongsa, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Daga (also Taka, Tarka, or Taga), Bumthang, Thimphu, Kurtoed (also Kurtoi, Kuru-tod), and Kurmaed (or Kurme, Kuru-mad).The Provinces of Kurtoed and Kurmaed were combined into one local administration, leaving the traditional number of governors at eight. While some lords were penlops, others held the title Dzongpen (Dzongkha: རྗོང་དཔོན་; Wylie: rjong-dpon; also "Jongpen," "Dzongpön"), a title also translated as "governor." Other historical titles, such as "Governor of Haa," were also awarded.Under the dual system of government, penlops and dzongpens were theoretically masters of their own realms but servants of the Druk Desi. In practice, however, they were under minimal central government control, and the Penlop of Trongsa and Penlop of Paro dominated the rest of the local lords. And while all governor posts were officially appointed by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, later the Druk Desi, some offices such as the Penlop of Trongsa were de facto hereditary and appointed within certain families. Penlops and dzongpens often held other government offices such as Druk Desi, Je Khenpo, governor of other provinces, or a second or third term in the same office.The heir apparent and King of Bhutan still hold the title Penlop of Trongsa for a period, as this was the original position held by the House of Wangchuck before it obtained the throne.Provinces of Bhutan
The Provinces of Bhutan were historical regions of Bhutan headed by penlops and dzongpens (both translated as "governor"). Provincial lords gained power as the increasingly dysfunctional dual system of government eventually collapsed amid civil war. The victorious Penlop of Trongsa Ugyen Wangchuck gained de jure sovereignty over the entire realm in 1907, marking the establishment of the modern Kingdom of Bhutan and the ascendancy of the House of Wangchuck. Since this time, the provinces of Bhutan have been reorganized several times into what are now the twenty Districts of Bhutan (Dzongkhag). Provincial titles such as Penlop of Trongsa and Penlop of Paro carry on, however, wholly subordinate to the Royal House.Traditionally, Bhutan comprised nine provinces: Trongsa, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Daga (also Taka, Tarka, or Taga), Bumthang, Thimphu, Kurtoed (also Kurtoi, Kuru-tod), and Kurmaed (or Kurme, Kuru-mad). The Provinces of Kurtoed and Kurmaed were combined into one local administration, leaving the traditional number of governors at eight. While some lords were Penlops, others held the title Dzongpen (Dzongkha: རྗོང་དཔོན་; Wylie: rjong-dpon; also "Jongpen," "Dzongpön"); both titles may be translated as "governor."Silver Jubilee of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
The Silver Jubilee of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was a celebration of 25 years of his reign. Jigme Singye Wangchuck was King of Bhutan (Druk Gyalpo) until he was succeeded by his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on 9 December 2006.
Commemorative Silver Jubilee Medal of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck (02/06/1999).Sonam Dechen Wangchuck (born 1981)
Princess Ashi Sonam Dechen Wangchuck (born August 5, 1981) is a princess of Bhutan. She is the daughter of the 4th King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck and his wife Dorji Wangmo. She is half-sister of the 5th King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.Ugyen Wangchuck
Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck (Dzongkha: ཨོ་རྒྱན་དབང་ཕྱུག, Wylie: o rgyan dbang phyug, 11 June 1862 – 26 August 1926) was the first Druk Gyalpo (King of Bhutan) from 1907–1926. In his lifetime he made great efforts to unite the country and gain the trust of the people.Wedding of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Jetsun Pema
The wedding of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan, and Jetsun Pema took place on 13 October 2011 at the Punakha Dzong in Punakha, Bhutan. The current King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, married Jetsun Pema, who became Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck. Both are descendants of the 48th Druk Desi of Bhutan and 10th Penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal.
|Bhutanese royal family|
Family of the
Second Druk Gyalpo (deceased)