On 13th October 2016, Thailand lost a beloved king and a respected leader, Bhumibol Adulyadej at the age of 88 years. He was the ninth and the longest reigning monarch (since 1946) in Thai history and was conferred the title of Rama IX. In his reign of 70 years and 126 days, he saw 30 prime ministers who served him. Born in Cambridge, Massachettes, he spent most of his childhood in Switzerland. He met his wife, the Queen, Sirikit during one of many trips to Paris. They had four children together and the King is succeeded by his only son, Vajiralongkorn.
His Majesty was fondly loved, deeply respected and looked up to by the people of Thailand and his loss came as a whole shock to the nation. Also called “People’s king”, he was instrumental in setting up many philanthropic foundations for improving the Thai healthcare system. Not just this, he worked at the base levels and did a lot for farmers and poor people, passing many laws for their betterment. All these acts gave him immense popularity with the masses and they gave him a near-divine status.
“A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in the society; other persons will also be good.” – King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Some key moments in his reign were in 1992, when a civil war was about to break out and the King intervened to prevent that and to transition Thailand into a democracy. He demanded both the fighting sides to cometo a peaceful resoltuion and this garnered huge respect from the public towards him.
In his personal life, this loved king was a very skilled painter, musician, photographer, author and translator. After being given a camera at seven years of age, photography became his lifelong passion. On the music front, he was an adept jazz saxophone player and composer, having learnt music while staying in Switzerland.
King Bhumibol was suffering from kidney and lung issues for a major part of the last decade and was hospitalized many times due to various illnesses. The King was put on a ventilator on 9th October and his condition declared not stable. He passed away peacefully on 13th. Thousands of mourners gathered around the hospital at the time of his demise, leaving only when his body was taken for ceremony. Giving him a father figure, many people were distraught at having lost a king of his nature.
Condolences flowed in for the king from all global quarters like leaders and other royalty. Barack Obama recalled king’s kindness and warmth and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered condolences. Among others, Pope Francis sent a telegram saying he was deeply saddened and Belgian royal family sent their thoughts and prayers. May his soul rest in peace.