Bhutanese royal wedding to be held in October

This undated handout photograph shows the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (L) and the future Queen of Bhutan, Jetsun Pema The king described his fiancee as "warm and kind in heart"

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The 31-year-old king of the Himalayan nation of Bhutan has said that he intends to marry in October, local media report.

The British-educated Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck said his future wife, 20-year-old student Jetsun Pema, would be a "great servant to the nation".

Wangchuck is widely revered in the country of some 700,000 people.

The king took over after the abdication in 2006 of his father, who began the country's democratic transition.

In March 2008, Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy and the king relinquished his absolute powers.

'Much thought'

The minister of information, Dasho Kinley Dorji, told AFP that the king had made the announcement during the opening session of parliament.

"As king, it is now time for me to marry. After much thought I have decided that the wedding shall be later this year," the young king declared.

"While she is young, she is warm and kind in heart and character.

"These qualities together with the wisdom that will come with age and experience will make her a great servant to the nation."

The king said the most important characteristic of a future queen was that she was a good human being, and unwavering in her commitment to serve the people and country, according to Bhutan's Observer newspaper.

"As my queen, I have found such a person and her name is Jetsun Pema," the king added.

Dorji Wangchuk, an official from the royal press office, said a celebration would take place, but that the king had requested that the government should "not make big plans".

"It is because of the lack of resources (in Bhutan), and secondly to make the celebrations more intimate and personal," he told AFP news agency.

He said the young monarch had known Pema, who has been educated in India and Britain, for "quite some time", and said she had begun to accompany the king on visits.

A biography released by the palace listed her interests as fine arts, painting and basketball.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck took over from his father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in December 2006, however his formal coronation did not take place until 2008.

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