Will and Kate vs. the 'Will and Kate of the Himalayas': Why the Royal Couples Have a Lot in Common
Princess Kate and Prince William‘s trip to Asia kicks off this weekend, and the couple’s week-long trip will include a two-day stop in the tiny country of Bhutan. As it happens, the King and Queen of Bhutan – more awesomely known as the the Dragon King and Dragon Queen – have another nickname, too: the Will and Kate of the Himalayas. With the two young royal families set to share a historic meeting, let’s take a closer look at how they compare:
They went to school in the United Kingdom
The Dragon King, 36, and the Dragon Queen, 25, both went to college in England – Jetsun Pema went to Regent’s College, where she studied international relations, psychology and art history (just like Kate!), while the King graduated from the University of Oxford after studying at Wheaton College in the United States. (Before that, he studied at the famed Phillips Academy and Cushing Academy, both in Massachusetts.) Will and Kate, of course, met and fell in love while studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Both royal moms are daughters of the airline world
Jetsun Pema comes from the Bhutanese elite – and her father, Dhondup Gyaltshen, worked as an airline pilot, according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Kate’s father Michael Middleton worked as a flight dispatcher while her mother, Carole, was a flight attendant before founding their successful party supply company, Party Pieces.
Their marriages were love matches
While very little is known about Jetsun Pema and the Dragon King’s pre-marriage romance, the Post previously reported that family friends had called the match a “love marriage” and that the couple had been living together for eight months before getting hitched. It’s not quite the long love story that unfolded with Will and Kate – but considering that Jetsun Pema was just 21 when she wed, it’s understandable that the couple’s courtship wouldn’t have been as long.
They sealed their wedding with a very public kiss
By the time Will and Kate stepped out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace after exchanging their vows in 2011, the public was expecting to see a photo-worthy kiss. But PDA is much more rare in conservative Bhutan, which is why it was so special when the Dragon King and his Queen shared a smooch following their wedding ceremony in October 2011. According to Hello!, while presenting Jetsun Pema to the public after their wedding ceremony, the Dragon King gave her a peck on the cheek, but then took things one step further when he asked the gathered crowd of 30,000 spectators if he should kiss her on the lips. When they were greeted with excited cheers, the couple then gamely shared a sweet kiss.
They’re seen as the new guard – and are raising their county’s profile abroad
The Dragon King’s father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, was credited with enacting many reforms in Bhutan, and the current king is seen as carrying the torch with his modern ways and worldwide appeal. In addition to overseeing the democratization of his country, the Dragon King is credited with raising the international profile of his country with state visits to Thailand (where he became something of a heartthrob), Japan, England and Bhutan’s closest ally, India. While Bhutan is proud of its strong and unique traditions, there’s no denying that the attractive and personable young royal couple are helping boost the country’s profile.
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While Will and Kate often like to give a nod to the past during their appearances and engagements, they also have broken from tradition a number of times, including Will getting a non-royal, non-military job (with the East Anglian Air Ambulance), bringing Kate’s family more into the royal fold and using social media for official announcements.
They waited to reveal their baby’s name
Just like Will and Kate, the Dragon King and Queen are raising a young family – namely, the crown prince, The Gyalsey, who was born on Feb. 5. And also like Will and Kate, the Dragon King and Queen are waiting a bit (or, more than a bit) to announce their child’s name. In keeping with Bhutanese tradition, the couple are waiting to publicly reveal their newborn’s name and he is instead only known as “The Gyalsey” at the moment. Similarly, Will and Kate waited two days before officially announcing both Prince George and Princess Charlotte‘s names, which might have felt like weeks to royal fans who were eagerly awaiting the news.
They’re style stars – with a nod to tradition
With their colorful, eye-catching outfits, the Dragon King and Queen have made waves in the western world for their traditional outfits. Jetsun Pema in particular has become somewhat of a style star for her kiras, the national dress of women in Bhutan. (And a garment that may just be in Kate’s suitcase! Clothing in Bhutan is actually relegated by the Driglam Namzha, or official dress code of the country, which dictates what all citizens are allowed to wear. However, even the Dragon King and Queen have been known to ditch their traditional clothes depending on the location – they both opted for Western dress when visiting Clarence House in England in 2011. Similarly, Will and Kate’s love of preppy, classic styles has been well-documented.