His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
The World's Longest Reigning Monarch
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States of America, at 8.45 a.m. on Monday 5th December 1927. He was the younger son of HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej and Mom Sangwal. King Bhumibol has one elder sister and one elder brother: the late Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana and His Majesty King Ananda Mahidol.
Being the direct grandson of His Late Majesty King Chulalongkorn or Rama V, who was renowned for the great reforms which he made to all institutions of Thailand to bring them up to date and in line with the rest of the West-orientated world, King Bhumibol's ascension to the throne was indeed prophetic and his name – Bhumibol – translates to 'Strength of the Land'.
His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol’s life was dedicated to development of many modern ideas, particularly in the field of modern science and public health. As such, he was known as the “Father of the Modern Thai Medical Profession”. Unfortunately, His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol passed away in 1929. After the death of his father, His Majesty King Bhumibol studied in Switzerland where he continued in secondary education and studied science in Lausanne University. However, the death of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol in Bangkok on 9th June, 1946, changed his life. According to the Law of Succession bestowed on him, he was the next heir to the throne. In order to better equip himself with the proper knowledge of the government and politics, His Majesty King Bhumibol changed his major to the subject of Political Science and Law.
King Bhumibol was engaged to Mom Rajawong Sirikit Kitiyakara in 1949. They married a year later in April 1950. After the royal wedding, King Bhumibol conferred Queen Sirikit. They have four children, namely Her Royal Highness Princess Ubol Ratana, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and the youngest, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn. Together with the Royal Family, His Majesty King Bhumibol initiated royal activities for his country. “We will reign with righteousness for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people” was the promise he made to his people. And for the past 62 years on the reign, the King has done exactly that.
Their Majesties and family
Thailand’s Noble Monarch
After completing his introductory trips overseas in the 1960s, His Majesty the King has never left the country and has concentrated his time and efforts instead on the well-being of the Thai people. The King has travelled to all areas of Thailand, including the remotest parts with the most rugged terrain, talking to people to understand their ways of life and problems and find ways to help them. Despite traditional rituals and court etiquettes, the Thai King is close to his people than many leaders.
So far, King Bhumibol has initiated more than four thousand development projects, ranging from irrigation, farming, drought and flood alleviation, crop substitution, public health, distance learning to employment promotion. These have helped improve the lives of Thais in all parts of the country – particularly farmers. The King has also concerned himself with the plight of the urban people, having initiated projects to address such problems as flooding and traffic congestion in Bangkok.
His Majesty in a couple of his trips to the rural areas
The Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy
His Majesty has always stressed the importance of basics, because only when the fundamentals are strong can development be sustainable. His Majesty therefore seeks to help the poor by encouraging them to start from the first step of having enough to eat and to live on” before embarking on more ambitious goals. Hence, His Majesty developed a philosophy of “sufficiency economy” as a way of life for the Thai people.
The word “sufficiency” means moderation and mindfulness in all conduct, and incorporates the need for sufficiency protection from internal and external shocks. It can be applied to the entire population – whether at individual, family or community levels. At the national level, the philosophy is consistent with a balanced development strategy.
A practical example of the application of the philosophy is “integrated farming practices according to New Theory”, which promoted step-by-step development. It starts with building a solid foundation at family level so that people can be self-reliant without taking advantage of others. Then people can come together to undertake group, community, or even community enterprise. The aim is to strengthen the community by reducing the risk from external factors, and builds connections. The end result would then be the expansion of the scope of cooperation at the national level.
This task is not smooth sailing. A balanced approach combining patience, perservance, diligence, wisdom and prudence is indispensable to cope with critical challenges ahead.
An ardent all-rounder in his pursuits of the arts and sports
King Bhumibol is an accomplished jazz musician and composer. As schoolboy in Switzerland, King Bhumibol read books about music and received private lessons in reading and writing classical music. When he was ten, he began studying the clarinet which he had bought with his own money performing chores. From the clarinet, he graduated to the saxophone and later the piano. King Bhumibol considers his favourite musical instruments to be mostly woodwind and brass instruments.
At the age of 32, he was awarded honorary membership of the Vienna Institute of Music and Arts. He used to play jazz music on air on the Aw Saw Radio Station earlier in his reign. His songs can often be heard at social gatherings and are performed in concerts.
King Bhumibol's first work in 1946, entitled 'Saeng Tien' or Candlelight Blues, sparked his love for composing music and to date, has written a total of 78 songs over a period of five decades. His Majesty's early compositions were mostly of the 'blues' style using the chromatic musical scale. He developed complex chords and rhythms which made possible varied arrangements for orchestral presentation. This, in turn, has made several of his songs great favourites even to the present.
Besides his musical talents, King Bhumibol is also a painter, photographer, best-selling author and translator. His Majesty's national best-seller "Phra Mahachanok" is based on a traditional Jataka story of Buddhist scripture and "The story of Thong Daeng" is the story of his stray dog - Khun Thong Daeng. He suggested making this book into a bilingual comic illustrated by a nationally famous comic illustrator Chai Rajawat, and it along with its associated merchandise, sold out quickly. His translated works are "Tito" (The biography of Josip Broz Tito, former Yugoslavian President, by Phyllis Auty) and "Nai In Phu Pid Tong Laang Phra" (A Man called Intrepid by William Stevenson.)
His Majesty used to sail and design sailboats. He won a gold medal for sailing in the Fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games in 1967, together with HRH Princess Ubol Ratana whom he tied for points. This accomplishment is all the more remarkable given His Majesty’s lack of binocular depth perception. He has also sailed the Gulf of Thailand from Hua Hin to Toey Harbour in Sattahip, covering 60 nautical miles (110 km) in a 14-hour journey on the "Vega 1," an OK Class dinghy he built.
His Majesty King Bhumibol is also admired for his efforts throughout his reign internationally.
King Bhumibol is the world's first and only monarch to hold a patent, holding one in 1993 for a waste water aerator named "Chai Pattana"and several patents on rainmaking since 1955: the "sandwich" rainmaking patent in 1999 and lately the "supersandwich" patent in 2004.
His Majesty received many awards and other forms of recognition from various organizations and agencies under the United Nations, for his contributions to the improvement of the environment and nature conservation. In May 2006, His Majesty was presented with the first United Nations’ first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award, for his efforts to human development to improve the lives of his people across the country. The award was presented by Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations and His Majesty the King was the first recipient of this newly-created Award.
His Majesty King Bhumibol received the first United Nations’ first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
The role of the monarch is deeply ingrained in Thai life and the people of Thailand know that their King loves them. Their feelings are a reflection of their deep-felt appreciation for the King’s devotion and hard work. To the Thais, as well as non-Thais who have had the privilege of meeting him, King Bhumibol's vision and compassion are boundless, as is the love and respect his subjects have for His Majesty. For this reason, His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej is held in the highest affection and reverence.
Some recommended books on King Bhumibol Adulyadej:
- A Lifetime of Giving: Thailand’s Working Monarch (Published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand, Printed by WPS Co. Ltd )
- Lasting Memories in Timeless Images (Published by Foreign Office, Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister, Royal Thai Government)
- 60th Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s Accession to the Throne 1946-2006 (Published by the Royal Thai Government, Printed by Thaweewat Press Co. Ltd)
พระราชดำรัสของพระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัว ในงานพระราชพิธีเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษา พุทธศักราช ๒๕๕๖ www.ohm.go.th/th/monarch/speech
Thais celebrate King's birthday