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Himachal-educated girl to marry Bhutan king

By Vishal Gulati, Sanawar (Himachal Pradesh), May 22 : For two years, Jetsun Pema was a student of the prestigious Lawrence School here. No one knew that the tall, slim girl belonged to a royal family of Bhutan and would one day marry its king.

Now that the 20-year-old is about to wed Bhutan's 31-year-old king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, a wave of surprise swept across her alma mater in Sanawar, located in the Kasauli hills.

"Jetsun was with us for two years from 2006 onwards. She was just like a commoner and never portrayed herself to be someone belonging to a royal family. We only knew that she was from Bhutan," her teacher Deepak Bahuguna told IANS.

"It was really a surprise for all of us that this simple, tall girl is going to tie the knot with the Bhutan king. Of course, it's a matter of pride for her alma mater too," he said.

Well-versed in Hindi and English, Jetsun, as her English teacher recalled, was good in sports, including athletics and basketball.

"Basketball was her favourite game. Her impressive height of 5'10" benefits her in the game. In studies, she was very well focused, clear in her perceptions and quite sharp in cooperative skills," the teacher said, adding that "her cheerful face always catches one's attention".

School official R.S. Chauhan said Jetsun regularly participated in extracurricular activities. "She was a member of the school band and participated in western dance contests too," he added.

Jetsun completed her Class 12 from Lawrence School in March 2008.

Wangchuck, the Oxford-educated Bhutan king, announced in his inaugural address to the Himalayan nation's parliament May 20 that he intended to marry Jetsun in October.

The king said the most important characteristic of the future queen is she should be a good human being and unwavering in her commitment to serve the people and country, according to Bhutan's Observer newspaper.

"As my queen, I have found such a person and her name is Jetsun Pema," said the king, who took over after his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated in 2006. The nation embraced democracy in 2008.

The Bhutan Broadcasting Service quoted the king as saying that the country was looking forward to the historic celebration and preparations would be carried out according to tradition.

Jetsun's younger sister, Serchen Doma, is also a student at Lawrence.

"It's a matter of chance that I am also teaching Serchen, who is in Class 12. She has told us that her elder sister is going to marry the Bhutan king in October," Bahuguna said.

Though Jetsun has not contacted her school since she passed out, her alma mater is hoping to receive a royal invite.

The residential Lawrence School also boasts of other famous alumni like Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and actor Sanjay Dutt. (IANS)

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