Wil­liam and Kate to visit Bhutan in spring, Palace says

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The Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge will make an of­fi­cial visit to Bhutan this spring, Kens­ing­ton Palace has an­nounced.

It will be the royal cou­ple’s first visit to the Hi­malayan king­dom.

While vis­it­ing the coun­try, Wil­liam and Cather­ine will meet Bhutan’s king and queen, who mar­ried in 2011.

The trip, at the re­quest of the UK govern­ment, will co­in­cide with their pre­vi­ously an­nounced of­fi­cial tour of In­dia.

It was also an­nounced that Prince Harry will visit Nepal this spring, the BBC’s royal correspondent Peter Hunt said.

Bhutan, lo­cated be­tween In­dia and China, has a pop­u­la­tion of about 750,000 peo­ple.

Tourists were first al­lowed into the coun­try in the 1970s, while it is known for its “Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness” in­dex - an al­ter­na­tive to GDP - which mea­sures per­sonal hap­pi­ness as op­posed to eco­nomic growth.

The cap­i­tal Thim­phu does not have traf­fic lights and tele­vi­sion was only in­tro­duced in the late 1990s.

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

King Jigme Kh­e­sar Nam­gyel Wangchuk - who be­came king in 2006 - and Queen Jet­sun Pema mar­ried in a lav­ish cer­e­mony in 2011 at a monas­tic fortress in the Hi­malayan na­tion.

They are ex­pect­ing their first child early this year.

The Ox­ford-ed­u­cated king and his wife, who also stud­ied at a Bri­tish univer­sity, vis­ited Lon­don a few weeks af­ter their wed­ding and met the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Corn­wall at their Lon­don home, Clarence House.

Pre­vi­ous royal vis­its to Bhutan in­clude a visit by the Duke of York in 2010, and a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1998.

Al­though Prince Harry’s Nepal trip will be his first visit to the coun­try, the prince said he had long wanted to visit the na­tion due to his ad­mi­ra­tion and re­spect for the Gurkha troops he served with in Afghanistan.

While the trip was also ar­ranged at the re­quest of the govern­ment, Prince Harry said he was keen to see progress with the coun­try’s re­build­ing ef­fort fol­low­ing the earth­quake in April last year.

The last visit by a mem­ber of the Royal Fam­ily to Nepal was by the Duke of Ed­in­burgh and the Princess Royal in 2000.

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