Happy Birthday H.M. King Bhumibol Rama IX of Thailand The World's Longest Serving Monarch
During this month of December, on the 5th to be exact, Thailand's revered Monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol, will celebrate his 76th Birthday. It will be a day of national celebration, rejoicing, prayers and thanksgiving for such is the high esteem the Thai people hold for their King. And who is this man -- His Majesty King Bhumibol, Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty of Thailand?
As a European (and honored to write this tribute), I first saw King Bhumibol just 5 years ago. Not in person, of course, but his likeness. It was on Thai bank notes which I had purchased in my home country prior to making my first visit to Thailand. Since then I've spent a lot of time in this country learning something of it, its people and its ruling King.
King Bhumibol was born on 5 December 1927 in Massachusetts, U.S.A. At that time his father and mother, Prince and Princess Mahidol of Songkhla (who was to become the Princess Mother), were both taking medical related degrees at Harvard University and Summons College respectively. As it happened, the young Prince Bhumibol was not born for Kingship -- he was the youngest of his parents' three children so, as "baby of the family" his elder brother and sister as well as mother and father welcomed him. At this time it was elder brother, Prince Ananda, who was destined to carry the heavy mantle of Kingship.
Sadly, young Prince Bhumibol's father, Prince Mahidol, prematurely passed away. That left his mother, Princess Mahidol of Songkhla to raise the young family. She transferred her family to Switzerland where they lived while the children furthered their education.
And thus it happened, in 1935, the young Prince's elder brother became H.M. King Ananda, Rama VIII, of Thailand. This was after the abdication of his uncle, King Prajadhipok. In some ways the situation was comparable to the succession to the British Crown of King George VI after the abdication of Edward VIII. So, when Prince Bhumibol was approximately 8 years old his elder brother ascended the Thai Throne while the younger Prince continued his upbringing in Switzerland. By this time, Prince Bhumibol was already multilingual and was showing great aptitude for, and displaying, other talents such as the enjoyment of music, nature and the environment and was a budding photographer -- now a lifetime's passion!
The Prince, fast growing up, became fascinated by "what makes things work" and was studying engineering at a Swiss University when in 1946, an event happened which changed the course of the Prince's life and that of his nation, Thailand. His elder brother, King Ananda, died in tragic circumstances and the Royal Robes of Kingship fell to the young, inexperienced shoulders of Prince Bhumibol. The Prince was 18 years of age when he became His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, of the King of Thailand.
It was important, and eminently sensible, that the new King finished his formal education and so his Coronation was delayed some four years to allow this to happen. An engineering degree was superceded by a political sciences major and, in other areas too, the new King had been busy. One year prior to his Coronation, King Bhumibol had become engaged to Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kittiyakara daughter of a Thai diplomat and herself of Royal Blood. On the 28th April 1950 the Royal Couple married and, one week later on the 5th May, King Bhumibol was crowned Monarch of the Kingdom of Thailand with full pomp and ceremony.
Now, some 53 years after his coronation, H.M. King Bhumibol, Rama IX of Thailand is the longest serving Monarch in the world. And, it can be suggested, probably the Monarch most respected by his subjects.
King Bhumibol has carried the mantle of Kingship humanity. He is a Monarch not only of the Thai people but for the Thai people. He knows their needs and wants -- and has the perception to understand that they are not always the same. As a Constitutional Monarch King Bhumibol has only three "rights": the right to encourage, the right to warn, and the right to be consulted. Within these parameters H.M. The King has led, helped and guided his people of Thailand -- be they military generals, governing politicians or rural farmers -- to a better understanding of each other and to a more wholesome future for all. Of course, there have been upsets and blights, both political and natural, but thanks to the King's gentle--handed diplomacy, or firm warning when needed and, especially, his love of his people and nation, good order and sustainable growth are the hallmarks of Thailand today.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, is well regarded by his subjects as "The Light of Thailand." That as a young Prince not expecting ever to be monarch, the King has displayed a most remarkable wisdom and talent for this most onerous of "jobs." May he reign long and may we, at the Hua Hin Tourist Information wish him a
Wonderful, Healthy and Happy Birthday on the 5th December.
Also see the Chakri Dynasty Kingdom of Thailand