Six decades ago, our nation was blessed with a wealth of happiness and a treasure to behold. The Royal Birth of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo marked a watershed in our history, gifting us an extraordinary leader whose uncommon grace, undying compassion and infinite wisdom have reinvigorated a nation, lifted a people and stirred the global conscience.
His Majesty, during the 37th opening session of the National Assembly in 1972 – only 16 then – memorably said: “I have an earnest desire to serve our beloved country and its people as best as I can.” Two years later, He would mould that desire into a solemn promise to the people of Bhutan as He pledged: “I offer my pledge today that I shall endeavour to serve our beloved country and people with fidelity and to the best of my ability.”
Only He knew the burden of realising the meaning of each word that He spoke given the hostile, unforgiving contours of the geopolitical landscape and the scanty resources He had at His disposal then. Nonetheless, the King of Prophecy charted a safe course steering the nation away from the brink of the perilous abyss. It is only a rare few that are specially called to meet such serious challenges.
His pledge came immediately after a personally hard time and a foreshortened childhood. Casting aside His own deeply personal loss, His Majesty, instead, consoled a grieving nation. He stood up to protect us when it was Him who needed protection the most.
It is one thing for a 16-year-old to make such a solemn pledge. It is quite another to not only live by it for more than 40 years but to go far beyond the pledge itself.
His Majesty gradually but surely gave meaning to those words as He began building our nation, calloused hands by calloused hands, equipped with nothing but a solid trust and confidence in His subjects and their unwavering loyalty to Him.
As the nation embarked upon modernisation, He saw in one panorama a modern Bhutan with and without its unique tradition and culture and what it meant for its future. So He worked hard to make sure that we stood firm against the influx of foreign elements and to be always careful about the choices we made, not least because we did not have the resources to survive any mistakes.
Our monarchy is emblematic of what is good with our nation today. Without His Majesty at the helm, all that is beautiful with us today – our past, our history, our tradition and our culture – that is the envy of the world could not have stood the test of time and survived sweeping changes.
Abraham Lincoln once observed: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
His Majesty is a leader whose nobility did not come from His title but the strength of His character and His noble, revolutionary deeds.
His Kingship challenged kingship with radical ideas: from challenging conventional economic development and being a great champion of happiness to self-deposition and being a King whose deliberate choice of power was the power of compassion– a constant theme of His 34 years of Golden Rule.
The monarchy under His Majesty’s reign was a government that people understood and easily identified with, simply because it was closer to the people and it understood their aspirations well.
Ezra Stiles, an 18th century American academic and educator said: “A monarchy conducted with infinite wisdom and infinite benevolence is the most perfect of all possible governments.” If he is still alive, he will have seen it for himself.
His Majesty has, on numerous occasions, held the nation together every time it was faced with the danger of falling apart. Whenever there was discord, He brought harmony. Wherever there were divisions, He brought unity. It is for this reason that our beloved Monarchs are the unfailing pillar of our unity. The advent of democracy has made this even more evident.
Our beloved Fourth King is a consequential, global leader.
Through His GNH philosophy, He has been silently leading a resistance movement against all ills conventional development has brought about that would eventually spell the end of the humanity itself. He gave happiness of the people a potent voice for the first time in the world, setting the global moral awakening in motion for a new development paradigm that asserts people’s happiness to be the kernel of any public policies – engaging the whole world in a simple conversation about their complex problems.
In 2005, His Majesty was awarded the Champions of the Earth Award by the United Nation’s Environment Program. A year later, He was chosen as one of the 100 global leaders who shape our world by TIME magazine. And in 2011, His Majesty was once again honoured in perpetuity as one of the inductees into the Kyoto Earth Hall of Fame, installing Him as a member of an intellectual elite, comprising world leaders, noble laureates, environmentalists and scientists. And it all happened for one reason: the new leadership that He has shown the world. Such a leader can only be born.
His Majesty is truly an inspiration and in Him resides our cherished values.
This is a time to celebrate Him. We are reaping the golden harvest of His vision and great sacrifices. It has opened up new vistas and new horizons for us. It should, therefore, prompt in all of us a time for self-reflection. As direct beneficiaries of His great sacrifices, we need to ask ourselves how well we have applied every act of His sacrifice to our own fair share in building the nation. Let us search for His strength within ourselves.
It’s now for us to carry forward the example that He has set and to strive for a future that is worthy of His sacrifice and Trust in each of us.
It is our singular honour to be the subjects of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
Thank you Your Majesty!
Long may You live and a very Happy Birthday!