Our guides in Bhutan called in this week to report some great news that was then covered nicely in the Washington Post on Wednesday.

The King of Bhutan wedding to his longtime girlfriend has set off celebrations in the country that introduced the world to Gross National Happiness.

King Jigme, who is Oxford-educated, and a fan of basketball and Elvis, married his girlfriend, Jetsun Pema, in a ceremony that combined spirituality and medieval tradition at an ancient monastic fortress in the village of Punakha.  Punakha was chosen as the country’s winter capital because it sits in a warmer-than-typical valley. Its mild climate makes it perfect for groves of oranges, mangos and bananas.

Punakha Dzong

As Wangchuck (the king’s family name) placed the Raven Crown on his head and five scarves around the queen’s neck, he presented her with a golden chalice. The ceremony kicked off three days of celebration in the streets among the Layap, the yak herding tribespeople who trek down from their high-altitude villages dressed in conical bamboo hats and black woolen coats.

We love the juxtaposition of ancient and modern in this incredible land of contrasts. On one hand, Gross National Happiness (the philosophy that spiritual and mental well-being matter as much as money, and that material gain cannot trump care for the environment or culture) is the official measurement of success. And it coexists harmoniously with the very modern occupation of the bride’s father in his profession as an airline pilot!

Our guides shared with us that the qualities the Bhutanese people are looking for in a queen are “…to be a good human being and committed to the people and the country.” And it’s heartwarming to hear the King describe his new wife as “…warm in heart and character…with the wisdom that will come with age and experience that will make her a great servant to the nation.”

From all of us at Classic Journeys, congratulations to the King of Bhutan, Jigme Wangchuck, and your beautiful new bride, Queen Jetsun!

Classic Journeys operates award-winning cultural walking adventures in Bhutan that explore dramatic Himalayan monasteries, introduce guests to rice farmers and yak herders at work in their fields, and showcase the country’s love of festivals and celebrations like butter lamp blessings and native dancers.

For a detailed itinerary on Classic Journeys’ Bhutan trips, visit www.classicjourneys.com/bhutan/. Or ask any questions you’d like about travel to Bhutan with Classic Journeys by emailing moreinfo@classicjourneys.com or calling 800-200-3887.

Classic Journeys’ Bhutan tour stays at fine hotels that feature spas with amenities like hot stone bath houses and yoga studios.