Bhutan king to be Republic Day parade chief guest

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is to be the chief guest at India's 64th Republic Day parade on Jan 26, an informed source said Wednesday.

"The Bhutan king will be the chief guest. The invite was sent some time back," an informed source told IANS.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid paid a two-day official bilateral visit to Bhutan from Jan 14.

During his visit, Khurshid had an audience with the King on Jan 15 and also with his father, former king Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

"Yes, the king is coming to New Delhi to attend the parade," sources at Bhutanese embassy told IANS.

The monarch's entourage is coming to New Delhi this week to prepare for the visit, the source added.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, 32, is an Oxford graduate. His father the fourth king, introduced the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, the idea that spiritual and mental well-being matter as much as money, and that material gain should not come at the expense of the environment or culture.

Bhutan held its first democratic parliamentary election on March 24, 2008.

Earlier, the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos Said bin Said, was to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. But he declined.

The Bhutan king is also to be the chief guest at the Confederation of Indian Industry Partnership Summit-2013 to be held at Agra from Jan 27-29, an official told IANS.

The ormer king Jigme Singye Wangchuck was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2005.