Staff Reporter

The incredible life and reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was an inspiration to the world and Her Majesty will be remembered as a truly great Monarch who led her people with exceptional grace and wisdom through the most difficult times in history, His Majesty The King said in a message to His Majesty King Charles III. The message also conveyed condolences to The Queen Consort, members of The Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. 

World leaders paid tribute and people across the globe mourned the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, which symbolises the end of an era. His Majesty said that, through her tireless and selfless service to her people, the longest reigning Monarch in British history will always be remembered for the wisdom, grace, dignity and strength she personified. 

Relations between Bhutan and the United Kingdom is characterised by historical contact since the 18th century, recent cooperation in Bhutan’s development process, the education of many Bhutanese students in the United Kingdom, and the friendship between members of the Royal families of the two countries. 

Historically, Anglo-Bhutanese relations were greatly strengthened during the reign of the first King of Bhutan, His Majesty Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, who established firm foundations for relations between the two countries. Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck met King George V in 1906 when he was Prince of Wales, and in 1911 when King George was crowned King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India. Members of the two Royal families continue to exchange personal greetings to this day. 

Bhutan and the United Kingdom have no formal diplomatic relations but the governments are in touch directly and through the British High Commission and Royal Bhutanese Embassy in India. The Deputy High Commission of UK in Calcutta, Honorary Consul of UK in Bhutan, and the Bhutan Society of the United Kingdom also facilitate people-to-people contacts. 

Over the years, Bhutan has received support for a number of specialised projects from the UK in education, health, agriculture and forests, rule of law, and the environment. British NGOs, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and Save the Children (UK), have both worked in Bhutan. In 2004 British Deputy High Commissioner in India, Mr Mark Runacres, led a seven-member delegation to Bhutan on an official visit. “We are great believers that even a small country like Bhutan has a vital role to play in the international scene,” he told the Bhutanese media. 

Education is a key factor in Bhutan’s relations with the UK. In human resources development, the RCSC has implemented 167 trainings, 93 long – term, and 71 short-term, under the British Council/ODA (Overseas Development Assistance). The Fleming Fund Grants Programme has also included fellowships and the Chevening Scholarships began in 2012. 

Her Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck was the first Bhutanese to study in London, in 1949. His Majesty the third King spent six months in London, His Majesty the fourth King studied in the UK, and His Majesty The King completed the Diplomatic Studies Programme at Oxford University. Hundreds of Bhutanese officials and professionals, educated and trained in prestigious institutions in the UK, are in decision making positions in the country today. 

Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Princess Kate, made a high profile visit to Bhutan from April 14 to 16, 2016. Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, who is the patron of Ability Bhutan Society, and the Duchess who is the patron of a British charity called Place2Be which provides counselling services to young people with problems, share concerns on the welfare of children with both mental and physical disabilities. 

Their Royal Highnesses were invited to Bhutan by His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen when Their Majesties visited HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at their residence in London.

It was a visit that followed the historic trip made by King Charles III, in February 1998, as the Prince of Wales. King Charles described his four-day visit to Bhutan to Bhutan as a “fascinating experience”.

“One of the most fascinating aspects of Bhutan is that it is one great genuine example of sustainability,” he said. “This country understands and incorporates the sense of the sacred into harmonious life… I pray that it lasts.” His Majesty King Charles told a gathering of British citizens working in Bhutan. “You have been provided a model which does not exist anywhere else… When you leave here perhaps you’ll bring something back so we can understand this harmony.”