I have carved a small dream inside me to visit the Royal Palace at Gangtok, ever since I enjoyed learning about my Sikkim. I had always romanticized how the Palace looks from inside and how do royal families do their day to day activities inside it. My fantasy got a wing when surfing down the articles I came upon a very beautiful article written in a Time magazine some 40 years back when Hope Cook, was the Gyalmo of Kingdom of Sikkim.
The rich brown haired American Queen of Sikkim brought along with her an attention of the western world towards the land of Sikkim that was more of a favourite hub for some British naturist till then. Hope Cook married Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal in a highly structured marriage ceremony at Royal monastery on 20 March 1963 that was seen as the tying of the knot of the two worlds. The grand marriage also found featured in National Geographic Magazine.
Five years in her marriage and at 28, Hope Cook had two children Prince Palden at 4 and Princess Hope Leezum just a year old. She played an important role in succeeding in reviving the Sikkim's long-dormant cottage industry. Sikkim at that time exported to the world deep-pile rugs along with gold and silver jewelry made by native craftsmen.
I here share an extract of the article about how the day of the Gyalmo concluded. “She rises at about 8 a.m., breakfasts on tea and fruit, and browses through the foreign newspapers and magazines to which the palace subscribes. At 10 a.m., her secretary enters, and the four hours until lunch are spent writing letters, devising menus and supervising the palace's 15 servants, who work in two shifts. She also keeps an eye on the family budget: the King's annual income is $42,000, and fixed expenses of $27,000 leave the royal household only a $15,000 margin. After lunch, palace chores and social work keep her busy until about 4 p.m., when she breaks away for her daily stroll through Gangtok or perhaps a set of tennis. Evenings are usually filled with official functions, or private parties, and the royal family has a wide circle of Sikkimese friends. She likes a Scotch and soda before dinner—or "even after dinner," she confides—but managed to give up smoking two years ago. Her husband, the Chogyal (King), does not smoke either—he prefers to chew betel nut.”
The last line fascinated me a lot; well “our late Chogyal enjoyed chewing betel nut”.
photo: Sikkim online/