The King and I: Retired instructor behind British royals' visit to Bhutan

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 1:50 PM

Honorary Consul Michael Rutland calls himself a mere facilitator, but a British diplomat said he'd played a crucial role in arranging the royal visit to the country sandwiched between the world'south two most populous nations: China and India.

That Britain'south Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is in large portion thanks to a retired Oxford schoolteacher.

Honorary Consul Michael Rutland calls himself a mere facilitator, but a British diplomat said he'd played a crucial role in arranging the royal visit to the country sandwiched between the world'south two most populous nations: China and India.

Bhutan has never had diplomatic relations with the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, including China and Britain. That made the assignment a fragile one for the 78-year-old Rutland.

"How can a retired physics instructor be a threat to anyone?" he asked Reuters in a telephone interview from the capital Thimphu, before Prince William and wife Kate start their two-day ride on Thursday.

The British royals, who have been touring India, will for the first time meet the fifth king and the queen of Bhutan. They'll also journey to the Tiger'south Nest, an ancient Buddhist monastery perched 3.000 meters (10.000 feet) up a mountain.

William'south father, Prince Charles, failed to complete the steep ascent to the Tiger'south Nest during a visit in one thousand nine hundred ninety-eighth, opting instead to paint a watercolor of the scene.

It'south a crowning moment for Rutland, who was once asked at a dinner party in Oxford whether he wanted to learn in Bhutan. After initial hesitation - he didn't know where the country was - he accepted the work in one thousand nine hundred seventy-first, only to discover he'd been appointed tutor to the crown prince of Bhutan.

The prince became the fourth king, going on to finish his own absolute regulation before abdicating. The current king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, ascended to the throne in 2008.

"It was a new constitutional democracy, a new monarchy and a new face," recalls Rutland, who presently lives full time in Bhutan, has adopted a son there and has five grandchildren.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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