Kinzang Dorji has rarely known a time like it

Bhutan is in the middle of a royal wedding frenzy and people in the capital, Thimphu, are preparing for it in many ways .

The owner of only large-scale workshop making traditional, ceremonial boots in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, he and his staff have been working almost non stop for the last month.

“I have ten staff, and because of all the work, I’ve hired another four,” he says.

“Starting from seven in the morning, they work round the clock until four o’clock the next morning.”

He says he pays them overtime, but there’s no alternative to the crazy hours. He usually makes 2000 pairs of the ornate, colourful boots per year.

He has had 2000 orders in the past month alone – from monks, civil servants, members of the public who want to look their best for this big national event, spending up to a hundred dollars a time.

There’s no question that Bhutan’s capital is in the grip of royal wedding fever. Pictures of the fifth king, and his queen-to-be, are going up at roundabouts, ceremonial gates are being erected at breakneck speed, and Thimphu is heaving with people.

Mere warm-up

At the Tshechu dance festival – a celebration of the revered Guru Rinpoche, and a chance to cleanse oneself of sins, there’s a sense that this – usually an annual highlight – is merely a warm-up for the real show later this week.

One young student watching the dances tells us the King’s bride – 21 year old Jetsun Pema – has the makings of a fine queen: “She’s religious, she has international looks – she’s very pretty. She’s cut out to be a queen and I admire her.”

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is Bhutan’s fifth monarch, and the first to preside over a democratic country.

His father abdicated in 2006 and entrusted the young king with the transition to democracy in elections two years later.

Now 31, His informal style, youth and good looks have contributed to a tangible popularity. In May he announced his intention to marry someone he described as “warm and kind in heart and character”.

The two will marry on Thursday at the Palace of Great Happiness in Punakha, three hours’ drive from the capital.

Spiritual occasion

The royal household and the government are stressing that it will be a sober, spiritual occasion.

But it’s also likely to be a very beautiful one, inside one of Bhutan’s architectural treasures.

Then will come the full pageantry in front of thousands of citizens in Thimphu on Saturday.

Back in Mr Dorji’s boot shop we meet Dorji Wangchuk – swapping his agriculture ministry job for that of protocol officer for the duration of the wedding.

He’s already got the right kind of Goh, or ceremonial clothing. All he needs now are the boots to go with it.

Will he get them on time? “I’ve been coming here for two weeks, already,” he says. “But we need to understand their situation – they’re very busy. They tell me that anyhow, they’ll deliver them before the Royal Wedding.”