Jigme Singye Wangchuk was born on 11 November 1955. He received his early education in Bhutan and then spent one year studying at North Point in India. In 1965, he went to England to continue his studies, but he returned in 1970 to Bhutan to attend the Ugyen Wangchuk Academy. As the son of the reigning king, Jigme Singye was granted many privileges and never personally experienced the poverty of many of his citizens. He rarely travels abroad. Like other Bhutanese, he is an avid sportsman; it is reported that he plays basketball every day.
In 1988, Wangchuk officially married the four sisters to whom he had been privately married for the previous nine years. At the time of the official marriage, Wangchuk already had eight children, four sons and four daughters. The king's reason for making his marriage public was to confirm the succession to the throne of his eight-year-old son, His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Gesar Namgyal Wangchuk.