National Geographic : 1970 Nov
Storybook capital of a gentle kingdom GANGTOK, population 12,000, tumbles over hills terraced for a crop of maize. The Chogyal, as Sikkimese call their king, and his American-born queen, the Gyalmo (below), live in a modest red-roofed palace on the crest of the hill at left, and worship in the yellow and-white chapel beyond it. Prayer flags flutter from government buildings nearby. Semitropical Sikkim-sometimes called the "Land of Fruit"-reaps a bountiful harvest of oranges and apples. The country exports them, as well as medicinal herbs, cardamom, and some copper. India provides aid for roads, hospitals, schools, and other development projects, while directing Sikkim's communications, defense, and foreign affairs. Royal trio: The former Hope Cooke of New York City acquired the title "Consort of Deities" in 1963 when she married Crown Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal. The wedding shattered tradition; past rulers selected brides from the noble families of Tibet. Second son of the previous king - and a Rimpoche, or reincarnated saint-Palden Namgyal was studying for the priesthood when the death of his elder brother made him heir to the throne. He met Miss Cooke on a vacation in Darjeeling, India. Court astrologers set their wedding date as March 20, 1963. In December of that year, the prince became king. His wife, who has adopted his nationality, actively encourages Sikkimese arts. Here their six-year-old son Palden joins the royal pair at palace ceremonies.