Bhutan’s royal family has lit 1,000 candles and prayed in memory of Prince Philip after his death last week at the age of 99.
King Jigme Khesar Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema were praying Sunday at a Buddhist fortress monastery called Mongar Dzong in the east of the country.
Meanwhile, the country’s Crown Prince, government ministers and British citizens lit a further 1,000 candles and sent prayers to the Duke of Edinburgh in a similar fortress on the outskirts of the capital, Thimphu.
King Jigme added that monasteries across the country had been ordered to offer special prayers for Philip, and that he conveyed his personal condolences to the queen.
“The people of Bhutan, along with the people of the United Kingdom, mourn the death of His Royal Highness, whose lifelong unwavering service to his country will be an inspiration to all of us,” said a statement posted on the royal Instagram account.
The King and Queen of Bhutan prayed for Prince Philip’s soul when they lit 1,000 candles – symbolizing the path to enlightenment – in a Buddhist monastery in the east of the country in tribute to him
King Jigme Khesar Wangchuck (left) and Queen Jetsun Pema (right) offered their prayers on Sunday at Mongar Dzong, a kind of fortress monastery, in the east of the country.
The Bhutanese Royal Family also paid tribute to Philip on Instagram, saying that his ‘life of steadfast service to his country will serve as an inspiration to all of us’ (pictured, Queen Pema prays at the monastery)
Bhutan’s royal family shares ‘extraordinarily warm relations’ with the UK, said King Jigme, dating back to the time of King Ugyen Wangchuck – the first ruler of a reunited Bhutan.
The British had helped the Wangchuck family overcome their regional rivals and take control of Bhutan in the 1800s, when the Indian territory bordering Bhutan to the south and west was part of the British Empire.
After helping the Wangchucks do their best to their pro-Tibetan rivals, they paid back the British by helping them fight in Tibet, for which King Ugyen Wangchuck was awarded a knighthood.
The current King, Jigme, had not met Prince Philip in person, but did travel to the UK in 2011, when he met Prince Charles and Camilla at Clarence House in London.
King Jigme said the candles used in Prince Philip’s monument were butterlamps, which in Tibetan Buddhism symbolize the hope that people are free from suffering and that their souls will reach enlightenment.
Bhutan’s royal family is far from the only ones to pay a unique tribute to Philip after his death, with the people of a remote island of Vanuatu who worshiped him as a deity also paid their respects.
People from the village of Yakel on the Vanuatu island of Tanna have been worshiping Philip for decades who they believe is the true embodiment of a figure – the son of a mountain spirit – mentioned in their folklore.
The Bhutanese royals praised ‘extraordinarily warm relations’ with the UK dating back to the times of the empire, when British forces then in control of India helped the Wangchuck family defeat their rivals and take control of the country.
A separate shrine was set up in another fortress monastery – Semtokha Dzong – on the outskirts of the capital Thimphu (pictured) where government ministers and British citizens offered prayers to the Duke of Edinburgh
The movement is thought to have been started sometime in the late 1970s by Chief Jack Naiva, who has since also passed away, and is now being continued by a village leader named only Albi.
He said prayers are offered to Prince Philip in the belief that his soul is now looking for a new home after leaving the previous body.
Prince Philip’s spirit has left his body, but it lives on. It’s too early to say where it will be, ‘he told AFP.
Under a British flag flying at half mast, Albi joined the elders in Yaohnanen – another village that Philip worships – Monday to discuss how to mark the Duke’s death.
Chiefs, in turn, spoke in painstaking discussions about what death means to their usual belief system, with a resolution likely only days away.
Yakel’s leaders said they sent a confidential message to the royal family after Philip’s death.
Prince Philip’s body is currently resting in Windsor Castle’s private chapel, where it will remain until the day of his funeral – April 17.
The funeral itself will be more of a ceremonial than a state affair and will take place in St George’s Chapel, also in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Due to Covid’s restrictions, the number of guests is limited to 30 and only close family and senior royals are expected to attend. Boris Johnson has voluntarily given up his seat at the service to allow more family members to be there.