The Bhutan Society of the United Kingdom
Welcome to the Society!
The Bhutan Society of the United Kingdom is for people who wish to develop knowledge and understanding of the Kingdom of Bhutan - and to encourage cultural and educational links between the peoples of the United Kingdom and Bhutan. It links together people who are interested in, or who have connections with, the Kingdom of Bhutan. Via a series of talks through the year, an annual dinner and a newsletter, members stay in contact with developments in Bhutan, with Bhutanese resident in the UK and with each other.
Please browse the website and read back issues of the newsletter
to discover more.
Bhutan's 114th National Day
His Majesty The King gave a speech on Friday 17 December as part of the celebrations of National Day. A translation of his speech can be found here
His Majesty the King offers prayers for Anthony Smith
His Majesty the King offered prayers and Karmey Tongchey at the Simtokha Dzong on 7 December for Anthony Smith CBE who passed away in London on 28 November 2021.
Anthony Smith was President of Magdalen College, Oxford from 1988 to 2005, a period which included the time that His Majesty The King was studying there.
He was a member of the Bhutan Society and a great friend of Bhutan. He helped to strengthen Bhutan's relations with the United Kingdom and personally mentored many Bhutanese students at Oxford University.
His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck with other Oxford alumni and others who knew Anthony Smith joined the ceremony to offer prayers and a thousand butter lamps.
New ambassador in Brussels
We welcome HE Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor to Europe. He has recently arrived in Brussels and succeeds HE Aum Pema Choden as Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan to Belgium and the European Union.
He has recently served as Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the State of Kuwait with concurrent accreditation to the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain. Before that posting he was in New York as Deputy Permanent Representative in Bhutan's Mission to the United Nations. His wife and their two daughters are now with him in Brussels.
We look forward to opportunities to meet and work with him and further develop the relations between our countries.
House Blessing Ceremony
The Society's summer newsletter contains an article by Michael Rutland describing a house blessing in Bhutan, including what happens and why some of the rituals take place. Michael has an accompanying film which offers the viewer many interests. It is a personal documentary showing all the ceremonies involved in blessing a new house. It includes trumpet blowing, cymbals and drums, dancing, people offering khadars, a young boy Reincarnation, and colourful monks' costumes. The film condenses the actual ceremony which lasted two days.
Please click here
to view the film (link to our Youtube channel. Running time: 57 minutes).
Interview with Dechen Wangmo, Health Minister of Bhutan
We're delighted to share with you an interview with Dechen Wangmo
, Health Minister of Bhutan, recently recorded especially for members of the Bhutan Society.
Her Excellency Lyonpo Dasho Dechen Wangmo is a member of the Cabinet of Bhutan, and took charge of the Ministry of Health in November 2018.
This is an interview with Michael Rutland. Running time: 39 minutes. With thanks to Ju-Nor Studios for production.
It is great news that the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Bhutan starts on 27th March.
More short films!
We're delighted to share with you three varied and interesting short films specially recorded for members of the Bhutan Society.
Ogyen Choling and the Burning Lake
. Michael Rutland travels up the Tang Valley to visit the historic manor house of Ogyen Choling, stopping off at the Burning Lake, sacred pool in the river, on his way (running time: 35 minutes).
An interview with Ngawang Gyeltsen
, Executive Producer of the 2021 Bhutan Echoes Literature Festival. He has recorded this conversation with Michael Rutland especially for the Bhutan Society (running time: 25 minutes).
With thanks to Ju-Nor Studios in Thimphu for production of these two recordings.
A Presentation by Sonam Norbu
. Sonam is working on his PhD in the Smart System Group at the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems, Heriot-Watt University linked to smart energy systems. He lectures at the Royal University of Bhutan. Sonam shares with us an overview of his PhD work as well as his personal experience of life in Edinburgh (running time: 18 minutes).
Three recently recorded personal short films
Michael Rutland brings us two short travelogues: the first is his Trip from Paro to Bumthang
on the recently launched flight route and the second is a Walk in Jakar Town, Bumthang
on a rather windy day.
Lhazin Nedup returned to Bhutan in December 2020 having studied Town Planning at UCL, and her talk is about her time in London
plus practical advice for future students coming to the UK.
Michael Rutland OBE: Recent Developments in Bhutan
We are delighted to present this talk by Michael Rutland OBE, speaking from various locations in Thimphu.
This was shown after the AGM on 17th November 2020. It gives a flavour of life in Bhutan during the challenges of 2020 and is a wonderful reminder to those who know Thimphu. Michael Rutland is the UK's Honorary Consul to Bhutan and is Vice President of the Society.
You can watch the talk by clicking here
(links to Youtube).
Running time: 70 minutes. With thanks to Ju-Nor Studios and producers Ugyen Norlha Gyeltshen and Jamyang Rinchen.
Dasho Benji: Protecting the Black-necked Crane and other recollections
We are honoured to present a short talk by Dasho Paljor Jigme Dorji, also known as Dasho Benji.
Diplomat, judge, minister and environmentalist, Dasho Benji established Bhutan's Royal Society for the Protection of Nature.
You can watch the talk, from Ludrong Memorial Garden, Thimphu, by clicking here
(links to Youtube).
Running time: 20 minutes. With thanks to Kesang Wangchuck, Royal Tutorial Project, for production.
Zimbiri: Solo Exhibtion
Grosvenor Gallery will be showing, for the first time in the UK, new paintings by Bhutanese artist Zimbiri (b. 1991) - the daughter of Dasho Ugyen Tshechup. The exhibition will take place during Asian Art in London's East Asian Art week from 30th October and will extend till the 20th November 2020. There will be a late-night viewing on Sunday, 1st November from 6-9pm.
Video messages to Members from two Bhutanese who have recently studied in the UK
Two recent 'alumni' have recorded messages for members:
- Dr Gaki Nima, who recently studied at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is now working in Thimphu and is closely involved with coronavirus-related work. The message can be found here.
- Pema Wangchug, a Chevening scholar in the UK 2019/20, has now returned to Bhutan to work at Druk Holding and Investments Ltd. The message can be found here.
Interview with Gordon Temple
This interview brings some wonderful insight about Bhutan mid-20th Century. Gordon Temple (1927-2004) had a long association with Bhutan and these recordings are presented in a short (20min) interview with Christine Lees. He passed out as a Gurkha officer in Bangalore and served in the Black Watch and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He then set up the Nepalese Tea Corporation in Kathmandu, worked for Unicef and converted to Buddhism. He was granted the rare honour of Bhutanese citizenship and also granted a traditional Bhutanese Buddhist funeral by HM The King of Bhutan.
You can download the interview here: Interview with Gordon Temple (1986)
Second Royal Son named
The newborn prince of Bhutan has been named Jigme Ugyen Wangchuck, the palace announced Tuesday, June 30th 2020. His Royal Highness will be referred to as Gyalsey Ugyen Wangchuck
The royal newborn arrived in March to King Jigme, 40, and Queen Jetsun Pema, 29, also known as the Dragon King and Dragon Queen. As is custom in Bhutan, his name was not revealed until after a special Buddhist naming ceremony.
Gyalsey joins big brother, 4-year-old Prince Jigme Namgyel, who is also known as the Dragon Prince as heir to the throne.
Michael Rutland on BBC Radio 4, The World Tonight
Our vice president, Michael Rutland, was on BBC Radio 4, The World Tonight, on 5 June 2020, speaking about Bhutan's management of Covid-19. You can listen to and download the broadcast here
(Michael speaks from 31:40).
Spring Blooms in Dorset
Society member Michael Blooman has shared photographs of rhododendrons and other trees on his property. These were taken at the end of April and beginning of May exactly when he was hoping to host a visit by other Society members. His garden has an inspiring backdrop of a pinetum planted in the 1850s now managed by The Woodland Trust with Cedrus atlantica and Sequoia giganteum alleged to be the tallest tree in the country at 159 feet. His extensive collection includes the huge white flowers of R. griffithianum, the vermilion R. thomsonii and the pale orange of R. cinnarbarinum - all found in Bhutan - as well as the yellow of R. sinofalconeri of Vietnam. To enjoy these photos click here
COVID-19 Protection Measures
The Society is monitoring the UK Government's guidance on the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The latest advice is at www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Those planning to travel to Bhutan are advised to contact their travel agents, as entry restrictions apply. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's travel advice is at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/bhutan/health
Upcoming Bhutan Society Events
The Government's restrictions on movement and gatherings have required the postponement of some events. The Society will review opportunities to reschedule the third Annual Film Evening and the AGM and also look to arrange other events, as restrictions are varied.
Other Events & Notices
Cine from Bhutan
A selection of fascinating Cine videos of Bhutan from the 1940s, taken by Dr Harry Staunton, have recently been added to the Articles
section along with a commentary about Dr Staunton's life and the provenance of the Films. The Society thanks Mrs Diana Hughes for making these videos available to us.
Watercolours for sale
Michael Blooman - Bhutan Society member, artist, explorer and plantsman - has generously offered to sell some of his paintings from Bhutan in aid of the Bhutan Society Trust Fund. Please click here
to view the images and for contact details.