Bhutan’s King trekked to stop covid but he’s walking between India and China

Over the last several months, away from the prying eyes of the world, Bhutan’s 41-year-old monarch, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, has been walking and travelling on horseback and car across the southern and eastern borders of his country adjacent to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, delivering pep talks to his country’s Covid warriors and exhorting border personnel to stay both safe and vigilant against unvaccinated and infected intruders.

The King returned to Thimphu on 18 June after five days on the road from Merak to Jomotshangka in the east, traversing on foot villages located as high as 4,032 metres, battling blood-thirsty leeches as well as low visibility and sleeping in tents in the cold wind and rain.

Of course, he didn’t have to go. Jigme Khesar Wangchuk could just as easily have stayed home, in the warm confines of his palace, the incredibly beautiful Trashichhoedzong in Thimphu, in the company of his Queen, Jetsun Pema, and their five-year-old and one-year-old sons. But this King has always been different.