The image of His Royal Highness, eight-year-old Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, offering marchang in the Punthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang (Punakha Dzong) was disarmingly enchanting. It was enchanting because the young Gyalsey gracefully portrayed a solemn poise far beyond his years. And it was disarming because it has taken some of us time and effort to comprehend the full significance of this profoundly spiritual ceremony by a Royal Child of the Wangchuck dynasty at the abode of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.

The Charter (kathrim) is a documentation of the sovereign prerogative exercised by His Majesty The King. It was symbolically submitted for the blessings of the Zhabdrung for the establishment of the Gelephu Mindfulness City Special Administrative Region. It followed the procedures that formalised the historic 1907 agreement (genja) which established the Bhutanese Monarchy and, after 100 years, adopted the Constitution of Bhutan.

Just as Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel established the Bhutanese polity for posterity, Bhutan’s Monarchs have defined their own chapters of Bhutanese history. His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuck once told the British in India, Bhutan must enjoy peace and prosperity built on the foundations of security and sovereignty. It was the era we all witnessed for more than a century of Monarchy.

Every Monarch of the Wangchuck lineage inherited a legacy for his generation. His Royal Highness Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck embodied the youth and the future when he performed a ritual with the aura of Bhutan’s historical mysticism and spirituality and received the Royal Charter.

Bhutan being described as a unique nation is not a brand. It is the reality of the past moving through the present into the future. Over the centuries, generations of Bhutanese were witnesses to moments when Je Khenpos were ordained, Desis appointed, and Monarchs enthroned in the presence of the Zhabdrung’s sacred relics and the protecting deities of Bhutan.

The Charter was placed in the Machen Lhakhang with the prayers and aspirations of His Majesty The King. The ceremony, on the first day of the Dragon Year, was attended by Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen, representatives of the dratshang, central and local government officials, and officers of the Bhutanese armed forces, together representing Bhutanese society. A visible sign of evolution, the first of its kind, was the physical presence of the future generation represented by 400 children.

The vitality and vibrance of Bhutan’s spiritual and cultural traditions is drawn from the wisdom of Vajrayana Buddhism which goes beyond the science of reason and rationale. A Royal Charter, for Bhutanese, is above and beyond the law. It is a sacred commitment by the highest authority of the land in the presence of past ancestors and present populace, to the future generations. It touches the hearts and minds of the Bhutanese and ensures the sovereignty and stability, peace and prosperity of Bhutan.

For Bhutanese, a Royal Charter elevates the Royal vision above and beyond the code of law. It has the blessings of our protective deities and carries the prestige of the Raven Crown. With this Charter, His Majesty The King has, once more, set sights on a prosperous future and the era of transformation.

Such was the significance of the marchang ceremony performed by His Royal Highness the Gyalsey on the first day of the Year of the Male Wood Dragon.