Nightly News   |  October 13, 2011

Bhutan celebrates royal wedding

They call it the land of the thunder dragon, and Thursday, in an ancient fortress, the Dragon King married a Queen whose beauty is the talk of this tiny nation. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.

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BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Finally tonight, we take you to the part of a world a lot of people haven't seen. Television cameras hardly ever go there. In fact, the people there lived without television until very recently. But tonight the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan is the center of the world 's attention because of another kind of royal wedding . Our own Ian Williams traveled to Bhutan for this special occasion.

IAN WILLIAMS reporting: They call it the Land of the Thunder Dragon , and today in an ancient fortress, the " Dragon King ," the Prince Charming of the Himalayas married a queen whose beauty is the talk of this tiny nation. If this sounds like something from a fairy tale, well, this is Bhutan , one of the most remote and isolated places on Earth , which had no roads or currency until the 1960s and no television until just 12 years ago.

...at a time selected by astrologers, 31-year-old King Jigme Khesar married Jetsun Pema in a traditional Buddhist ceremony. She's 10 years his junior and a commoner, the daughter of an airline pilot. The two met 14 years ago at a family picnic. Crowds came from across the country for a glimpse of the revered royal couple, who vow to meet personally with as many people as possible. Sixty-three -year-old Dofu had traveled six hours on foot. 'I had to be here,' she told me. 'I wouldn't have missed this for the world.'

Unidentified Woman: We are very excited. We cannot express our happiness. That's why we came here to witness the royal wedding .

I. WILLIAMS: There were no heads of state here today, no foreign royalty or international celebrities. They weren't invited. The king said he wanted a wedding for the people, not an extravaganza like the British royal wedding . He studied at Oxford , the new queen in London . But Bhutan is uncertain about the modern world , choosing to measure progress by what they call gross national happiness . The new queen is certainly capturing the imagination here.

Unidentified Girl: She's very beautiful and kind and simple.

Unidentified Man: She's very hot.

I. WILLIAMS: A response that suggests not all outside influences can be kept at bay. Today's wedding was the biggest international media event the country's ever seen, all for a couple who must determine just how closely Bhutan will embrace the 21st century while preserving its soul. Ian Williams , NBC News, Thimphu, Bhutan .