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Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

Long Live The King

  /  DESTINATIONS   /  Long Live The King
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Grand celebrations planned to mark His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 85th birthday on Dec. 5

By Percy Roxas

December is a very auspicious month in Thailand for one reason: the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej – the longest reigning living monarch in history – which falls on the fifth day of the month. The dearly beloved King, who ascended the Thai throne in 1946, will be 85.

Every year, big celebrations are organized by both the public and private sector across the country to mark the birthday of the revered King, who is regarded as the “Soul of the Nation,” and “Father of the Land.” This year, grander celebrations are expected to be held as usual at three focal points in Bangkok: Sanam Luang, the Royal Plaza, and the areas around Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall, and along Ratchadamnoen Road. The spectacle – which many foreigners find endearing — include candle-lighting ceremonies, a fireworks display, and public performances, all meant to pay respects to the beloved king. Similar celebrations are being organized in other parts of the country, from the north to the south.

His Majesty has earned the respect and love of his subjects because, through the years, he has shown them that he cares for them whatever their station in life. Considered as the hardworking Monarch in the world, His Majesty never tired of visiting every corner of his kingdom, checking how his subjects are living, and initiating Royal Projects that would help uplift their welfare and livelihood. Today, these Royal Projects have become a backbone of social and economic support for all the people of Thailand, and have helped raised the standards of living.

His Majesty was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. on Dec. 5, 1927. He was the youngest son of HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej and Mom Sangwal (later Somdej Phra Sri Nakarindhara Boromaratchachonnani). His name Bhumibol Adulyadej means “Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power.”

He came back to Thailand in 1928 after his father, Prince Mahidol, obtained a certificate in the Public Health program at Harvard University. He briefly attended Mater Dei School in Bangkok. But in 1933, his mother took the family to Switzerland, where he continued his education at the École Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande in Lausanne. In 1935, his elder brother Ananda Mahidol, became King of Thailand.

The family came to Thailand briefly in 1938 for Ananda Mahidol’s coronation, but then returned to Switzerland. He received the baccalauréat des lettres (high-school diploma with major in French literature, Latin, and Greek) from the Gymnase Classique Cantonal of Lausanne, and by 1945 had begun studying science at the University of Lausanne when World War II ended, and the family returned to Thailand.

Bhumibol ascended the throne following the death of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, on June 9, 1946. Bhumibol then returned to Switzerland to complete his education, and his uncle, Rangsit, Prince of Chainat, was appointed Prince Regent. Bhumibol switched over his field of study to law and political science to prepare himself more effectively for his new position as ruler.

While finishing his degree in Switzerland, he visited Paris frequently. It was in Paris that he first met his future queen: Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, daughter of the Thai ambassador to France. He was 21 and she was 15. Bhumibol became a regular visitor to the ambassador’s residence and soon the two were engaged (in Lausanne on July 19, 1949). They were married on April 28, 1950, just a week before his coronation.

Their Majesties have four children: Princess Ubol Ratana, born April 5, 1951 in Lausanne, Switzerland; HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, born July 28, 1952; HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, born April 2, 1955; and HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, born July 4, 1957.

Lookeast Magazine joins the entire Thai nation in wishing His Majesty long life and long rule! Long Live The King!