Thimphu, Bhutan (Kuensel/Asia News Network) - The country of Bhutan, famous for being the world's happiest country, had even more reason to rejoice on Wednesday (Nov 11).
As the country celebrated the king's father's 60th birthday, the current King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, announced that he and his wife are expecting a son in February next year.
"On this most auspicious of occasions, as we celebrate the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, I am deeply pleased to announce that Jetsun and I look forward to the birth of our son in the coming Losar," the king said.
"As a son, I feel fortunate to offer prayers for the wellbeing of my father. I take it as a special blessing to also have the opportunity to offer prayers as a father, for my son. Since he will carry forward our future, the prince will be a son to all Bhutanese as well," the king said.
"I consider my son extremely fortunate, because he will be born in our blessed country. We owe our good fortune, our peace, prosperity, and security to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo," he added.
The king, also known as the fifth Druk Gyalpo or "Dragon King", is a constitutional monarch. Although he assiduously avoids meddling in politics, his influence remains substantial in a country that has long looked to the monarchy for guidance.
Educated at Oxford and a fan of basketball and Elvis, the king wed his girlfriend of three years, the photogenic but unassuming Jetsun Pema, in the country's old capital, Punakha, in 2011.
The queen is the daughter of an airline pilot whose family has long known the royals. Family friends said it was a love marriage for the couple.
The king scandalised traditionalists by kissing his wife on the cheek in public, as well as holding her hand everywhere they went.
Given a licence by no less than their king, young Bhutanese in Thimphu and Paro are no longer fearful of such public displays of affection.
On Wednesday, his announcement sent Bhutanese social media into overdrive, with many users expressing good wishes and expressions of joy
"It is one of the proudest moments for Bhutanese when there will be three generations of the monarchy present at the same time. History awaits!" Ngawang Namgyel, a lecturer at Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, said.
Bhutanese based out of the country were also overjoyed.
"I screamed with excitement when His Majesty announced that Their Majesties were soon having an heir to the throne," said Chonying Wangmo Dorji, 22, who is studying in Thailand.
"I felt like someone in my family is having a baby, a very special baby indeed. I cannot wait to see the prince. I wish all the happiness to Their Majesties."