DEOTHANG, Bhutan (Reuters) - Bhutanese voted on Monday to elect members to a new upper house of parliament for the first time, a step towards democracy after a century of absolute monarchy.
The tiny, conservative Himalayan kingdom has been preparing for democracy since former monarch Jigme Singye Wangchuck decided to hand power to an elected government, even as many of his citizens said they were quite happy with the way things were.
I realize that this is not going to have any major global impact, but it is unusual. I'm wracking my memory of history to think of another example of a monarch voluntarily stepping down to allow an elected government to assume power. I can't think of one, but if any historians can show me one, please do.