H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, The Great, addressingBeing born on 5th December 1927 and acceded to the throne as King Rama IX on 9th June 1946,
the crowd during the 60 years on the throne celebrations
the King of Thailand is the world's longest-reigning monarch and the longest-serving Head of State.
From Sukhothai to Ayutthaya through Thonburi to Bangkok
The Thai monarchy has been in continuous existence since 1238 A.D., the founding date of the Kingdom of Sukhothai by King Sri Indraditya – the first King of a unified Thailand. In 1279, the King Ramkhamhaeng, called Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng the Great (the father of the nation), came to the throne. The Kingdom of Sukhothai was eventually succeeded by the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, founded in 1351 by King Ramathibodhi I. For four centuries Thai Kings, especially the King Trailokanat, ruled Ayutthaya, presiding over some of the greatest period of cultural, economic and military growth in Thai History. All of this ended in 1767, when a Burmese Army invaded and sacked the city of Ayutthaya.
After the fall of Ayutthaya kingdom, there was a brief episode in the history of Siam associated first with the civil war, and then, the short-lived Thonburi Kingdom under the King Taksin. In 1782, a new Kingdom was established by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke or Rama I, when he moved the capital from Thonburi across the Chao Phraya river to Bangkok. Actually, at that time it was an Island on Chao Phraya river called Rattanakosin. Thus, has been launched a new distinct period in Thai history called Rattanakosin Era.
The King Rama I has founded the Chakri dynasty, which is currently ruling in Thailand. In 1868, the King Chulalongkorn or Rama V called The Great Beloved King ascended the throne as King of Siam. Being educated by Westerners, he embraced many of European and Western ideas in modernizing Siamese kingdom. King Chulalongkorn managed to save Siam from being colonized and was considered one of the greatest kings of Siam. In 1910, he was succeeded by his son the King Vajiravudh or Rama VI, who brought the monarchy into the 20th century. In 1925, he was succeeded by his brother the King Prajadhipok or Rama VII. The institution reached its current constitutional form in 1932, after a bloodless coup carried out by a group of foreign educated students called "the Promoters", which ended the absolute monarchy.
From 8th till 13th June 2006 Thailand celebrated the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne. The celebrations incorporated series of events marking Bhumibol's reign. Events included the royal barge procession on the Chao Phraya River, fireworks displays, art exhibitions, pardoning 25,000 prisoners, concerts and dance performances. Royal visitors took part in a state banquet that was held in the newly constructed Rama IX Throne Hall at the Grand Palace, the first official function for the hall. The Chiang Mai Royal Flora Expo was also held to honour the anniversary.
People all over the country have been wearing yellow shirts with the royal emblem in celebration of this very special event. Kings and queens, monarchs and sultans, princes and princesses, royal ancestries, royalties and dignitaries from 25 countries around the world gathered in the Thailand capital Bangkok to mark King Bhumibol Adulyadej 60 years on the throne and pay their respects.
Highly revered as a semi-divine figure and immensely popular among Thai people, HM the King Bhumibol, 78, the world's longest-reigning monarch, addressed a cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands of people in Bangkok. Speaking from the balcony of Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, the king said that unity would bring prosperity to Thailand. "Unity is a basis for all Thais to help preserve and bring prosperity to the country in the long run," the king told the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people stretched over several kilometers long from Bangkok's Royal Plaza.
Colourful anniversary celebrations in Bangkok
Tied in with the 60th anniversary, in May 2006, Kofi Annan UN Secretary-General
at the time presented Bhumibol Adulyadej with the United Nations Development Programme's first and only Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award.
Biography of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Being the third and youngest child of TRH Prince and Princess Mahidol of Songkhla, Bhumibol was born on 5 December 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States, and has been educated primarily in Switzerland. Amongst a variety of interests and involvements, he is also an accomplished musician, a spirited artist, and an energetic sailor, as well as an enthusiastic photographer – lifetime's passion now.
Following the death of his older brother King Ananda Mahidol or Rama VIII (which resulted from a gunshot to the head, under circumstances that to this day remain a mystery), Bhumibol (18 years of age) ascended to the throne on 9 June 1946, when Harry Truman was in the White House and Josef Stalin ruled the former Soviet Union. His Coronation was delayed in order to allow King Bhumibol to return to Switzerland and complete his education. To be prepared for his new position, Bhumibol switched over his field of study to the Law and Political Science.
Following the completion of his education in Switzerland, Bhumibol returned to Thailand, and on 5 May 1950 (Coronation Day) he was crowned as King of Thailand Rama IX at the Royal Palace in Bangkok. One week prior to his Coronation, on 28 April 1950 King Bhumibol married to Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kittiyakara. The royal couple (King Bhumibol and his wife Queen Sirikit) have four children:
- (Formerly HRH) Princess Ubol Ratana, born 5 April 1951 in Lausanne Switzerland
- HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, born 28 July 1952 in Bangkok Thailand
- HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, born 2 April 1955 in Bangkok Thailand
- HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, born 4 July 1957 in Bangkok Thailand.
As a Constitutional Monarch King Bhumibol has only three direct "rights":
- The right to encourage
- The right to warn
- The right to be consulted.
Within these prerogatives, HM The King has guided his people to a better understanding of each other and led the nation to a more wholesome future for all.
Most of the King’s powers are exercised by his elected government in accordance with the constitution of the day. The King still retains numerous powers such as: being head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, the prerogative of royal assent and the power of pardon. The King and his family are protected by Lèse majesté laws. The King is assisted in his work and duties by the Private Secretary to the King of Thailand and the Privy Council of Thailand. His household finances are handled by the Bureau of the Royal Household and the Crown Property Bureau.
The symbol of national identity and unity, King Bhumibol has reigned holding very few defined powers of his own through 17 military coups, 20 different prime ministers, and 15 constitutions. But it has been his timely interventions at the moments of crisis that have earned him the gratitude of Thai public – most recently when he ended the stand-off over a disputed general election in April 2006. The king commands enormous popular respect and moral authority, which he has used on occasion to attemp to resolve political crises that have threatened national stability. In both 1973 and 1992, his involvement ended the bloodshed during popular protests against military leaders.