On 5th December 2009, The King of Thailand celebrates his 82nd birthday and the Thai nation will stop to pay tribute to their Great King.
The King’s birthday celebrations are no small event in Thailand, and this year will see the festivities stepped up to a truly grand scale as the Thai nation celebrates their King’s 82nd birthday.
Styled Maharaja (the Great), King Bhumibol Adulyadej (pronounced Phumiphon Adunyadet) is revered as a semi-divine figure by many Thais. For over half a century, he has dedicated himself to the country’s poor, maintained peace when necessary, and been the moral leader for the Thai people. He is the Father of the Nation and the principal source of unity and strength that holds the country together. In addition, His Majesty is an accomplished jazz musician and composer, artist, photographer, author and translator, inventor, patent holder, sailor, philanthropist, animal lover, and agriculturist.
Born on December 5, 1927, King Bhumibol is the ninth King in the Chakri Dynasty and also known as Rama IX; however Thais refer to him more commonly as Nai Luang or Phra Chao Yu Hua (both mean The King). Having reigned since June 9, 1946, he is the world’s longest reigning living monarch and the longest-serving monarch in Thai history.
Bhumibol Adulyadej, which means Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power, was born in Boston, being the third and youngest child of Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Mahidol of Songkla. He was brought back to Thailand in 1928, a year after his birth, went to primary school in Bangkok, and then left in 1933 for Switzerland, where he continued his education. After school, he began studying science at the University of Lausanne; however the death of his elder brother King Ananda Mahidol in Bangkok on June 9, 1946, bestowed on him the Thai crown at the age of eighteen. He returned to Switzerland to continue his education, but changed his field of study to law and political science in order to prepare himself for his new position as ruler. While continuing his studies, he met Mom Rajawongse Sirikit and the couple became engaged. They were married on April 28, 1950, just a week before Bhumibol Adulyadej was crowned King of Thailand on May 5, 1950 at the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Their Majesties have four children.
During his reign, King Bhumibol has been involved in many social and economic development projects in the Thai Kingdom—one of the reasons he is so loved and respected by the Thai people. As one of the wealthiest men in the world, he has used part of his great wealth to fund development projects, particularly in poorer rural areas. In the 1960s and 70s, he was known as the Development King, implementing a number of projects in rural areas and communities. In the 80s, most activities involved the development of large scale irrigation projects, and during the modern period the structured development of the Royal Projects reached its apex. Currently there are more than 3,000 Royal Projects going on across the country, all with the purpose to improve people’s livelihood, be it in agriculture, the environment, public health, development of water sources, communications, social welfare, etc.
As well as helping his people with the Royal Projects, King Bhumibol has been a great patron of the Arts. He is a painter, photographer, author and translator, and a gifted jazz musician and composer. In his travels, he has played with such jazz legends as Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, and Lionel Hampton, and his songs can often be heard at social gatherings and are performed in concerts. He is also an accomplished sailor and sailboat designer, and is the only Thai monarch—and possibly the only monarch in the world—to hold a patent, obtaining one in 1993 for a wastewater aerator named Chai Pattana.
His achievements are great, and he is aptly called the Great King. Throughout his illustrious life, His Majesty has lived according to his personal philosophy, Give more, take less. Join the Thai people in celebrating their Great King this December 5. Long Live The King!