THIMPHU, Bhutan–Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck addressed a celebration of one hundred years of coverage of the Kingdom of Bhutan by National Geographic tonight. The event was hosted at the Taj Tashi Hotel, where the Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE) is lodging in the mountain kingdom’s capital. Led by National Geographic President and CEO Gary Knell, the CRE is touring Bhutan to learn about the country’s science and conservation programs and visit researchers in the field.
This evening’s event featured Bhutanese food and drink and a cultural program of festival dances. Here is the text of the Queen’s remarks, as released by her office:
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be a part of the 100-year celebration on the coverage of the Kingdom of Bhutan by National Geographic.
In 1914, John Claude White’s fluent observations of our country, detailed in the April Issue of the National Geographic Magazine, unveiled the intricacies of our unfamiliar and mysterious land and people, to the rest of the world.
Bhutan has, across the century, made unique progress as a nation. We have continually fortified the values of our traditions and cultural heritage, and the essence of what was observed of our country, a hundred years ago, still remains.
Today, we move forward on the philosophy of Gross National Happiness and strive for sustainable development. We are bound by duty to ensure the resilience of our cultural values and our pristine natural environment, which remains indispensible in our pursuit of collective happiness. In Bhutan, we are always guided by our past; our rich traditions and culture, so fundamentally important for our future, binds us across time and generations.
In much the same manner, I believe that the National Geographic Society is driven towards bold expeditions and discovery, revealing ancient pasts to inspire mankind to value our own histories, to protect our timeless heritage, our unique archeological treasures and to illuminate our breathtaking, fragile planet and the ever growing need of environmental and wildlife conservation.
In celebration of a hundred years since the first coverage of Bhutan, I take this opportunity to commend National Geographic for the noble efforts, since its inception in 1888, to explore and bring to light the human and physical geography of our world.
It has offered glimpses into world cultures, histories and natural sciences; and continues to encourage the crucial need for historical and environmental preservation.
Your explorers have reached the perimeters of our vast planet, to put forward unknown and fading traditions and highlight the last of the magnificent creatures of the animal kingdom that are fast approaching the fringes of extinction. You have successfully brought these issues to the global consciousness, reflecting the growing urgency and need to pool our efforts in a common purpose, that is, to discover a harmonious balance between the protection of our flora and fauna with sociocultural progress.
This is essentially the philosophy that guides our country’s development, and I believe, in Bhutan and beyond, we are all united in this shared purpose to protect the legacy of our history and of nature. We are grateful that the National Geographic continues to uphold this aspiration in the realities of changing times.
We wish the National Geographic Society and your Committee for Research and Exploration a pleasant stay in our Kingdom. We look forward to your continued and excellent work, enriching lives in a brilliant way, with insight and inspiration for all life on our fragile planet, and the great adventure that it represents.
Thank you and Tashi Delek.
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.