His Majesty, or Rama IX, was the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty, which has reigned over Thailand since 1782. Until Thursday, he was the longest-reigning monarch in history.
Not only is HM King Bhumibol forever etched into the hearts of the Thai people, but also into the hearts of many foreigners who have lived in Phuket long enough to truly appreciate why his subjects loved him so much.
Grandson of the honoured King Chulalongkorn, His Majesty was born on December 5, 1927, at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States, to HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej (the Prince Father) and HRH Princess Srinagarindra (the Princess Mother) while HRH Prince Mahidol was studying at Harvard University.
Later, while finishing his degree in Switzerland, His Majesty frequently visited Paris, where he met Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, daughter of the Thai ambassador to France and their love blossomed. They were married on April 28, 1950, a week before His Majesty’s coronation.
HM Bhumibol officially ascended the throne on May 5, 1950 in a grand ceremony at the Royal Palace to the cheers of the people of Thailand, where he pledged that he would “reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people”. The date is now marked in history as the beginning of the deep reverence Thais have for the beloved King.
His Majesty was an accomplished musician. He wrote 49 compositions, including marches, waltzes and patriotic anthems, and was adept at playing the saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, guitar and piano.
A keen sailor, His Majesty won a gold medal for in 1967 sailing in the Fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular Games, together with his daughter HRH Princess Ubolratana, whom he tied for points.
His Majesty King Bhumibol, however, is likely to be best remembered for the many Royal Projects he initiated, bringing relief to the suffering poor throughout the country.
The Royal Projects range from his ground-breaking move to have hill-tribe farmers in the Far North transform their poppy fields and plant crops that brought dependable household incomes, to his famed “Monkey Cheeks” reservoirs that officials use today to prevent devastating flooding in the Central Plains, to the Royal Rain-making Project to bring relief from drought, to his renowned “Sustainable Sufficiency Economy” principles.
In his most recent years, His Majesty’s concerted efforts to publicly present a united Thailand of all peoples – North, South, Central, and Northeast – brought his nation even closer together.
His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej was father to one son, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, and three daughters – HRH Princess Ubolratana, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and HRH Princess Chulabhorn.
HM King Bhumibol is also grandfather to 12 grandchildren.
May he be forever remembered for the great deeds he accomplished and the love that he inspired from not just Thais, but people from all around the world.
Long live his love.
Rest in Peace, Your Majesty.