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Tiny kingdom of Bhutan celebrates royal wedding

FILE - In this May 7, 2011 file photo provided by Bhutan's Royal Office for Media, Bhutan's 31-year-old Oxford-educated monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, left, poses with his fiance 20-year-old Jetsun Pema, a student at London's Regent College, in Thimphu, Bhutan. The monarch of the Himalayan kingdom plans to marry his fiance on Oct. 13, 2011. FILE - In this May 7, 2011 file photo provided by Bhutan's Royal Office for Media, Bhutan's 31-year-old Oxford-educated monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, left, poses with his fiance 20-year-old Jetsun Pema, a student at London's Regent College, in Thimphu, Bhutan. The monarch of the Himalayan kingdom plans to marry his fiance on Oct. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Royal Office for Media, Karma Nidup, File)
By Ravi Nessman
October 12, 2011

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THIMPHU, Bhutan—The royal wedding of the king of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to his commoner bride has begun with a procession of red-robed monks, the chants of welcome, the clanging of drums and the drone of long trumpets.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, 31, arrived at 8:20 a.m. Thursday at Bhutan's most sacred monastery fortress in the old capital of Punakha wearing the bright yellow sash of royalty. His bride, 21-year-old Jetsun Pema, followed a few minutes later, crossing a wooden footbridge over a wide, blue river beside the fort.

Once inside, the couple took part in a purification ceremony led by the nation's chief Buddhist cleric before moving to the temple for the main portion of the ceremony.

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