His Majesty The King is in a seven-day facility quarantine, having returned yesterday from another tour of the high-risk border areas in the southern dzongkhags. Since March last year, His Majesty has made 13 exhaustive tours and a number of brief visits to Southern Bhutan and met with thousands of front-liners protecting the long and porous border to prevent cross border transmission of the Covid-19.
What is characteristic of the Royal tours are the long hours that His Majesty spends visiting and talking to the troops, desuups, public servants, volunteers, and the scattered communities of farmers and small entrepreneurs along the border. For many, these are memorable, and often emotional, moments, that will stay with them for life.
At a time when world leaders are largely functioning within protected environments with enhanced security and digital communications, His Majesty The King risks physical proximity for a specific reason. Bhutan’s resilience, and the wellbeing of the people throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, comes not from military presence or economic stability, but from the inspiration and strength that people draw from His Majesty’s presence among them.
His Majesty visits remote places multiple times to see the patrolling arrangements, to listen to the people and understand their situation, to thank them for their efforts, and even to take care of their personal comforts and needs. His Majesty visited desuup centres around the country more than 50 times in the past year alone, and every one of the 20,000 desuups has heard the heartfelt appreciation, encouragement, and guidance from His Majesty in person.
Desuups around the country could have been addressed through video calls. Or a video message could have been played during the training. Virtual meetings could have been held even with the Task Forces and other front-liners working along the border.
But every time a new batch was trained, at six to nine different locations around Bhutan, His Majesty visited them in person. Since April 2020, six batches were trained in multiple locations, so His Majesty has personally addressed Desuung trainees 53 times in the past year alone.
The incident at Pemaling yesterday, when miscreants trying to cross the border illegally injured a Bhutanese policeman on duty, demonstrates the continuing risks and our need to remain vigilant. The multiple Royal tours every month, despite the seven-day quarantine after each visit to the south, serves to strengthen the morale of all the people living and working in the south.
His Majesty has said that this pandemic is perhaps the great challenge of our time. His Majesty also said, in the Royal Coronation Address in 2008: “I shall live such a life as a good human being that you may find it worthy to serve as an example for your children.”
The example that is being set today is this untiring service to the nation, no matter how hard, tedious, or burdensome.