His Royal Highness King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has been actively working towards establishing and growing global friendships and influence. His diplomatic engagements, which span from India to the United Kingdom, and now Saudi Arabia, speaks volumes about his efforts to elevate Bhutan’s global stature.
Most recently, the King’s visit to Saudi Arabia signifies a step towards strengthening ties with Middle Eastern countries. He was received by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in June 2023. They discussed opportunities to enhance cooperation and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. This meeting shows the King’s strategic vision for expanding Bhutan’s diplomatic ties beyond its traditional allies.
King Jigme Khesar’s relationship with India is exceptionally warm and longstanding. He has visited India on several occasions and was even invited as the Chief Guest for India’s 64th Republic Day celebrations in 2013. This relationship is significant, considering that India is a regional power and one of Bhutan’s closest allies. It indicates the King’s aptitude for nurturing relationships that are crucial for Bhutan’s economic and political stability.
In 2006, the King made a visit to Thailand as the crown prince, and the impact of that visit still resonates today. His popularity in Thailand has led to an increase in Thai tourists visiting Bhutan, underscoring the influence of his personal diplomacy in promoting Bhutan as a tourist destination.
In 2011, the King and Queen Jetsun Pema became the first state guests in Japan since the 2011 earthquake. The visit was received with fascination by the Japanese public, highlighting the King’s ability to captivate international audiences and bring attention to Bhutan.
The King’s participation in international events also showcases his global influence. He attended the funeral of Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 2015, the funeral of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in 2017, the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan in 2019, and the 2023 coronation of King Charles III in the UK. These appearances demonstrate his willingness to engage on a global scale and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with world leaders.