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Government & Politics

Government & Politics

After 300 years of Dual Theocratic Civil Government, the first hereditary monarchy was established in 1907. Locally addressed as Druk Gyalpo - the King, is both head of State and Government. The first Druk Gyalpo, Ugyen Wangchuck, who reigned from 1907 to 1926, unified the nation, established friendly relations with British India, and set his political agenda. There had been three hereditary monarchs from 1907 - 199: Jigme Wangchuck (1926-52), Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1952-72), and Jigme Singye Wangchuck (since 1972). December 17th is the National Day to commemorate Ugyen Wangchuck's enthronement as the first King in 1907.

Established as an absolute monarchy in 1907, Bhutan first moved toward a constitutional monarchy in 1953 with the foundation of its National Assembly. In 1963 the monarch's title was changed from "His Highness" to "His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo" in a move to assert a distinct Bhutanese identity. The Druk Gyalpo retained veto power over actions of the National Assembly until 1969 when the National Assembly, following his 1968 decree, became the Kingdom's sovereign institution. After 1969, the National Assembly could remove the Druk Gyalpo through a No-Confidence Vote.

To secure the Wangchuck Dynasty, should the Druk Gyalpo be dethroned through a No-Confidence Vote, the Wangchuck family member next in line of succession would automatically take the throne. Also beginning in 1969, at the insistence of the Druk Gyalpo a "Democratic Monarchy" was to be determined through triennial votes of confidence in the Druk Gyalpo's rule.

In 1972 Jigme Singye Wangchuck succeeded his father, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who had involved the young prince in the work of government and had appointed him crown prince and Ponlop of Tongsa only a few months before dying. After his accession to the throne in 1972, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck was formally enthroned in June 1974.

In 1988, the Druk Gyalpo married the four sister Queens in a public ceremony in Punakha. After enthronement in 1972, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck became most concerned in economic development and traveled extensively throughout the country. He also has traveled a great deal outside of Bhutan, attending international meetings and personally representing his country. A young, vigorous head of State unafraid to break from the bureaucracy and constraints of his office--including his trips to the countryside where he could be seen "serving the people". King Jigme Singye Wangchuck presented the monarchy as progressive and symbolic of national unity.

The Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced Democratic System of governance in 2008 and the Crown Prince enthroned as the Fifth King.