The tiny kingdom of Bhutan, perched between China and India on the Eastern edge of the Himalayan mountains, is celebrating the impending arrival of a new royal heir.
“I’m deeply pleased to announce that Jetsun and I look forward to the birth of our son,” the country’s Dragon King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck said Wednesday.
The prince is due to be born in February 2016, he said, according to the national newspaper, Kuensel.
The 35-year-old monarch made the announcement during celebrations honoring the 60th birthday of his father, who abdicated in 2008, so his son and Queen Jetsun, 25, could take his place and ascend the throne.
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A fan of basketball and Elvis, the king wed his girlfriend Jetsun Pema, the daughter of an airline pilot, in an ornate traditional Buddhist ceremony held at a monastic fortress in the country’s ancient capital of Punakha.
The couple had known each other for more than three years before their October 2011 royal nuptials. The relationship raised eyebrows as it became apparent that theirs was not a formally arranged marriage – but a love match. They’ve also affectionally come to be known as the “Will and Kate of the Himalayas.”
The nation’s modern Dragon King, which is his official title (Druk Gyalpo), scandalized traditionalists, by public displays of affection, including kissing his wife on the cheek and holding her hand in public everywhere they went, according to the Straits Times.
News of the birth of their royal heir was received enthusiastically in the tiny land-locked nation (population 742,737), which banned TV and Internet until 1999.