The people’s King - His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great turns 81

A shining example to all peoples of the Kingdom and the world

By Peter Cummins, Special Correspondent, Pattaya Mail
Photos: Courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household


 It is very difficult to encapsulate the incredible achievements of our beloved King in this short article.  The writer, rather, has highlighted just some of the events, honours and accolades which have been dedicated to His Majesty, particularly in this auspicious year of his 81st birthday.

Born on Monday, the fifth of December, 1927 at the Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great reaches his eighty-first birthday just two years after celebrating sixty years on the Thai Throne.

As the Thai people - and, in fact, people all around the world - honour this year’s anniversary of the birth of the world’s longest-reigning Monarch, the Pattaya Mail presents this supplement, prepared by special correspondent Peter Cummins, as a “Happy Birthday” tribute to our beloved King.

In his Coronation Oath, promulgated on the fifth of May 1950, the newly-crowned King Rama the Ninth vowed that, “We will reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people” and in all the years which have passed since that auspicious day, the concept of “righteousness” has dominated his reign. In fact, HM the King has, throughout his more than six decades of rule, constantly revered the age-old Buddhist concept of ‘Kingship’ as defined in the “Sutta Pitaka” of the “Tripitaka” in which a King is defined as “Mahasammata” - a King of Righteousness. The Buddhist scriptures also define the genesis of the universe and the progression of evils which befall mankind: greed, stealing and lying and the inevitable repercussions of censure and punishment.

Our King has steadfastly reigned by these principles, embodying good kingship in his own life and example and often speaking out against the affliction of the evils so clearly spelled out in the Buddhist philosophy - evils and afflictions which seem to have become progressively worse in the past tumultuous years.

There will inevitably be some familiar material in parts of this story, for HM the King’s development projects have been ongoing for more than 50 years and there is, of course, a historical perspective which has been incorporated.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s
coronation, 5 May 1950

Accession to the Thai Throne

 His Majesty the King was pronounced successor to the throne in June 1946. After four years of studying in Europe, he returned to Thailand and was crowned during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony.

On April 28, 1950, a week before his coronation, H.M. King Bhumibol and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married. Following the coronation HM the King returned to Switzerland to continue studying.

The Coronation Ceremony reinforces the stature of the Kings of Thailand. The first such elaborate ceremony was performed when Pho Khun Phamuang succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang Sukhothai. Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical record in stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat Srikhum.

In the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, the first King in the Chakri Dynasty (King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalokmaharach) took the title of Rama I and moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, and constructed Krung Ratanakosin (Bangkok). In the process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the first King in the House of Chakri refined the coronation ceremony, establishing important protocol that has lasted to this day.

The annual commemoration of the coronation ceremony is a three-day affair, starting with a ritual “tham bun” ceremony on May 3 to honour the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed, whereby flags of honour are issued to distinguish various military units.

The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announce the auspicious occasion of the next day (May 5).

On May 5, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX) conducts a merit-making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leads a “Wien Thien” ceremony, walking three times around the sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

In the evening HM the King conducts another sacred ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by King Rama I.

Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public viewing on Coronation Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays depicting royal achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.

 King Bhumibol Adulyadej: Ever Attentive to Royal Duties

 His Majesty the King continued to have many official duties over the past years, culminating in an abundance of official functions two years ago to commemorate his Diamond Jubilee on the Thai Throne, continuing right through to this year, up to his 81st birthday.

One of his many functions during this period was to open the new Rama VIII Bridge - the 475-metre long cable-stay bridge which the King had planned since July 1996, having it constructed to commemorate King Ananda Mahidol, Rama the Eighth.

HM King Bhumibol introduced a number of aesthetic designs based upon the former King’s royal seal. As in all of His ideas, the new bridge was designed and built to have the least possible effect on the fragile environment of the Chao Phraya River, the riverbanks and the surrounding river approaches.

After the official opening, the City of Bangkok presented His Majesty with a 24K gold model of the bridge, and a gold plate with the bridge engraved upon it to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who accompanied HM the King at the opening.

Development Centres

 Over the years, the King has established five Royal Development Study Centres - or, as they are better known - “Living Museums” - situated in the roughest terrain in their respective regions. These centres are the locale for experiments in re-forestation, irrigation, land development and farm technology which are conducted to find practical applications within the constraints of local conditions, geography and topography. His Majesty’s aim is to restore the natural balance, to enable people to become self-supporting.

The first centre organized was that of Khao Hin Son, in the rocky area of Chachoengsao’s Phanom Sarakam District. Here, the centre studies how to turn the barren soil, caused by de-forestation, back into fertile land again.

Other centres are located at strategic places around the Kingdom. The Pikul Thong Centre at Narathiwat studies the swampy, acidic land of the southern-most region.

The Phu Phan Centre in Sakhon Nakhon studies soil salinization and irrigation in the country’s biggest region, the Northeast which suffers from endemic drought.

The Krung Kraben Bay Centre in Chantaburi examines the rehabilitation of mangrove forests and coastal areas following massive destruction.

The Huay Sai Centre in Petchaburi studies the rehabilitation of degraded forests and shows villagers, in their turn, how to protect the forests.

When he is in doubt, HM the King will fly over a particular area, armed with aerial photographs and maps of the terrain, noting features as they pass underneath. But, being a good photographer himself, he also takes his own pictures and later juxtaposes them over the charts to obtain a detailed image of the area of his concern which helps in his planning of specific development projects.

Throughout the more than six decades that HM the King has ruled Thailand, not only Thais, but people around the world have become accustomed to seeing His Majesty travelling to remote areas of the country. He works with - and brings rational development to - even the poorest and most disadvantage groups. He is often filmed leading officials, farmers and many diverse groups up rough mountain trails, over bridges, punting along in small sampans, to initiate sustainable projects and ideas, aimed at helping the many who have been forgotten or left behind in the development process.

His Majesty’s insightful approach to local prevailing conditions has enabled him to improvise new theories for agricultural development, to provide guidelines for educating farmers on self-sufficiency, and to solve problems of goitre by feeding iodine into salt roads at strategic points.

In all these works, His Majesty has promoted a simple approach using environmentally-friendly techniques and utilizing moderate amounts of locally available resources. For example, before environmentalism became a major force in the development equation, His Majesty was using vetiver grass to prevent erosion, controlling ground water level to reduce soil acidity, and seeding clouds with simple materials such as dry ice to produce rain.


A ‘Simple’ Approach

 HM the King’s philosophy to development problems has been to “keep it simple”, relying on an intimate knowledge of Nature and her immutable laws, such as using fresh water to flush out polluted water or dilute it through utilization of normal tidal fluctuations. The ubiquitous water hyacinth, too, can be ‘harnessed’ to absorb pollutants.

The results of any development, HM the King asserts, must reach the people directly as a means of overcoming immediate problems, translating into “enough to live, enough to eat”, while looking at a longer-term result of “living well and eating well.”

His Majesty compares this to using “adharma” (evil) to fight evil, observing that both pollution and the water weed are a menace, but they can be used to counteract each other, thus lessening the damage to the environment.

HM the King himself practices this “simple approach” and brings a down-to-earth approach to which the people can readily relate. He studies and deliberates exhaustively on the particular project and then reveals his thinking in short, easy-to-grasp titles. The very simplicity belies the profundity of the philosophy, for each title reflects a much deeper insight into a given problem and often, at the same time, hints at the mode of operation to be employed.

A major working principle has been a true knowledge of and reliance upon the immutable laws of Nature in solving problems and resolving abnormal conditions, such as using fresh water to flush out polluted water, as in his analogy “good water chases bad”, referring to the hyacinth/water pollution problem in the Chao Phraya, for example.

It was in 1969 that HM the King, vitally concerned about the Hill Tribes’ cultivation of and addiction to opium, established the Royal Project, the first manifestation being a Hmong village on Doi Pui in Chiang Mai Province. Development has now spread to Chiang Rai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son.

Over the years, the Projects have been instrumental in the conversion of the poppy fields being turned into groves of temperate fruits and vegetables. It is under the dynamic direction of HM the King’s close colleague, friend and confidant, Prince Bhisadej Rajanee who manages the projects from his base at Chiang Mai University, that there are now five research stations and 35 Royal Project Development Centres which incorporate some 300 villages, comprising 14,000 households and approximately 90,000 farmers.

The Royal Development Projects Board, under the Office of the Prime Minister, also serves as the secretariat for the Chai Pattana Foundation which is directly responsible for the work related to the Royal Development Projects.

Thus, more than three decades later, the results can be seen in the new life that has come to many of the mountain villages. Greenery has returned to areas once denuded of forest cover through the highly-destructive slash-and-burn agriculture, leaving only barren hills in its wake, and opium cultivation, a cause of extreme national concern, is relegated to the dust-bin of history.

“The key to the success of the Project lies in His Majesty’s guidelines,” explains Prince Bhisadej. “They focus on obtaining knowledge, through research, avoiding bureaucratic entanglements and swift action to respond to the villagers’ needs, while promoting self-reliance,” he adds.

The effectiveness of this approach has been applauded internationally. For example, in 1998 the Royal Project won both the “Magsaysay Award for International Understanding” and the “Thai Expo Award for the Highest Quality Standard of Thai Goods for Export.”

HM the King’s own views are that development must respect different regions’ geography and people’s way of life. “We cannot impose our ideas on the people - only suggest. We must meet them, ascertain their needs and then propose what can be done to meet their expectations,” HM the King pointed out recently.

HM the King’s ideas are in direct contrast to the bureaucracy’s wish to impose standards from the top down, with the inflexibility inherent therein. “Don’t be glued to the textbook,” he admonishes developers “who”, he said, “must compromise and come to terms with the natural and social environment of the community.”

HM the King sees no need to spare any sensitivities - if there are any - because he feels that the government approach is costly and authoritarian which is why it has “failed miserably to address the country’s problems.”

HM the King’s Philosophy

 His Majesty the King has stated his opinion on countless matters over the years. These royal words of wisdom reflect his great sensitivity to the needs of his people and their problems and his down-to-earth approach to problem-solving.

Herewith are some excerpts on His Majesty’s ideals:

I shall reign with righteousness for the happiness and benefit of the Siamese people, was his promise 60 years ago.

To achieve desired results that are also beneficial and morally just, you need more than just knowledge: You need honesty, sincerity, and justice. Knowledge is like an engine that propels a vehicle. Moral principles are the steering wheel or rudder that leads the vehicle safely in the right direction.

Knowledge helps you to understand religion on a broad basis; religion helps you understand knowledge in depth. Therefore knowledge and religion have to go hand-in-hand; they are both essential to life. Whoever possesses both knowledge and religion shall achieve success in life without fail, because they can analyse everything in detail and a rational way.

Academic subjects that you are constantly being tested for, do not alone account for your survival and will not create benefit for yourself, for others, or for the country. Those with knowledge also need other additional qualifications to bring themselves and the nation to survival and prosperity.

The necessary qualifications are a tender conscience, honesty in thought and deed, loyalty to the nation and your patrons, selflessness and not taking advantage of others, sincerity and meaning well to others, generosity as benefiting your status and position, and most importantly, perseverance. Practice doing projects on your own both big and small, simple and complicated, with determination, without sloth, carelessness, or vulgarity.

When you want to study anything in depth, you have to study it from every conceivable angle, not only in part, or become fixated on a particular aspect. Secondly, what you must also do is consider the subject with an unbiased and unwavering heart. Do not let the dark influence of prejudice misguide you, whether it is prejudice in favour of, or against, the matter.  Otherwise, the knowledge which is gained will not be true knowledge, but knowledge that is a mere illusion, or misleading. It cannot be applied to create benefit without incurring negative results.

When you have clearly analysed the issue with a heart that is unbiased, then only will true understanding arise, leading to a just decision and action. You must set your mind to be objective, not allowing any prejudice to prevail. Let your heart be led by truth and justice, based on reason and morality.

Knowledge, intelligence, and efficient equipment, alone cannot help us create total prosperity and stability for the country. To do so we need one other element, that is unity, or cooperation, so that we can use that knowledge, intellect and equipment to create true prosperity as desired. 

Diamond Jubilee for HM the King

His Majesty the King, center left,and Her Majesty the Queen, center right, pose with the visiting representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Thailand’s Asian neighbors in the elaborate century-old high ceillinged Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok June 12, 2006. (AP PHOTO)

In 2006, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the Thai Throne, HM the King and Queen presided over splendid festivities as representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia had come to Bangkok to honour His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.

The royal guests came from near and far to enjoy Thai hospitality and the friendship of the Thai Royal Family.

But - and, perhaps, more significantly - to honour this celebration, millions of people, sporting the “Royal Yellow” shirts (the official colour of the King’s household) packed the areas around Bangkok’s Royal Plaza to hear HM the King deliver a rare public address in which he called for national unity.

“The responsibility to preserve the nation,” His Majesty reminded his subjects, “does not belong to any particular person but to all Thais who must do their utmost to develop the country and make it prosperous, stable and peaceful,” he said. “Therefore, I, as a Thai, have the same responsibility as all Thais do.”

A Sea of Yellow

 It was a schoolgirl whose handwritten declaration of love for the Monarch who designed the shirt and wrote the text for many other products made available to honour HM the King on his Diamond Jubilee.

Written in a childish hand, the slogan “Rao Rak Nai Luang” (We love the King) is undoubtedly one of the most familiar sights across the nation today. You see it everywhere, on T-shirts, bumper stickers, wristbands - coffee mugs even.

Although it looks like the work of a small child, the short sentence that has captured the hearts of so many Thais and foreigners alike, was actually penned by secondary-school student Nop-abha “Yui” Devakula, about six years ago - long before yellow-shirt fever descended on the Kingdom.

A smiling Nop-abha, now 23, a former student at Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Humanities, recalls how it all started back in 2002.

Many thought that the various fonts used in a nation-wide competition did not reveal the true Thai devotion to their King and, eventually, her handwritten “Rao Rak Nai Luang” with a red heart encircling the word “rak” was the one that was eventually picked from the bunch.

“I drew characters with a computer mouse, not a pen,” notes Nop-abha, a granddaughter of Lord Chamberlain Keokhwan Vajarodaya and his wife, Thanpuying Pensri. “It does have a child-like quality which I thought appropriate to dedicate to the father of our country and of all the Thai people,” concluded Nop-abha.

 Accolades Pour In

 The King has been named an ‘Asian Hero’ among 65 prominent figures designated by Time Magazine as “Asian Heroes”.

H.E. Boutros Boutros-Ghali presents a gift to H.M. The King, Chitralada Palace, 10 Apri 1993

“The King’s stewardship has been so masterful that in times of crisis, Thais invariably turn to one man: (HM) King Bhumibol,” writes the article published in the magazine’s Nov 13, 2006 issue.

“On two occasions - October 1973 and May 1992 - with Thailand descending into chaos, (HM) the King, armed only with his moral authority, intervened to end blood-shed,” it said.

Elsewhere, His Majesty has been named the first recipient of the Norman E Borlaug World Food Prize Medallion in recognition of His Majesty’s outstanding humanitarian service in alleviating starvation and poverty, presented by the World Food Prize Foundation on July 23, 2007.

The award, introduced for the first time last year as a special commemoration of the World Food Prize’s 21st anniversary, is a special honour for individuals who have provided exceptional humanitarian service in reducing hunger and poverty.

HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej shakes hands with The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan at Klai Kangwol Palace in Prachuab Khiri Khan province, May 26, 2006. Annan presented a human development lifetime achievement award to His Majesty as the country celebrated the 60th anniversary of His accession to the throne. Looking on is HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. (AP PHOTO)

The medallion is named in honour of the World Food Prize founder and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Norman Borlaug.

“Since his accession to the throne in 1946, (HM) King Bhumibol Adulyadej has displayed a deep concern that the Thai people have sufficient food and proper nutrition,” said Ambassador Kenneth M Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.

“His Majesty’s commitment to his subjects has been reflected in the more than 2,000 royal projects he has established throughout the country, the first of which was initiated in 1952,” he said.

The projects include efforts to promote small-scale agriculture, the introduction of new agriculture technologies and the sustainable use of water.

In June 2006, His Majesty Carl XVI Gustav, King of Sweden in his capacity as Honorary President of the World Scout Foundation, presents His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great with the World Scout Organization’s highest award, the Bronze Wolf Award for his support and development of Scouting in Thailand.

HM the King was also lauded by Kofi Anan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, as the “Development King”, acknowledging his dedication to promote child health, combat iodine deficiency and increase access to education.  And two years ago, His Majesty the King received the UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the global relevance of his call for a sufficiency approach to development, presented by United Nations Development Programme on 26 May 2006.

The royal projects have benefited million of people across Thailand, with a particular focus on aiding ethnic groups and hill tribes in mountainous regions.

“Dr Borlaug tells of his visits to Thailand and the time he spent meeting with His Majesty and walking through the countryside with him as they discussed possible new approaches to agriculture,” said Mr Quinn.

A different type of honour was forthcoming when several hundred thousand people took part in a walkathon on the new cable-stayed bridge, an event organized by the Transport Ministry to mark His Majesty the King’s 60 years on the throne.

The Republic of Korea’s Korea Invention Promotion Association, or KIPA, last year presented a Special Prize in honour of His Majesty, who is recognized as the “Father of Thai Invention.” This organization promotes intellectual property and expands patent management support.

Most recently, the Budapest-based International Federation of Inventors’ Association (IFIA) presented the IFIA Cup 2007 for His Majesty’s Chai Pattana wheel used to treat water. The IFIA also presented its Genius Medal prize to honour His Majesty’s Self-Sufficiency Philosophy, and his New Theory, which revives farming techniques based on Thai wisdom focusing on minimal use of resources but aiming for higher agricultural productivity.

IFIA has decided to designate February 2 International Inventor’s Day in honour of His Majesty the King, whose patent for the Chai Pattana Aerator was granted on 2 February 1993 by the Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce of Thailand. Two years later, the Cabinet approved the proclamation of February 2 each year as National Inventor’s Day, when activities are organized to celebrate this event.

Thailand hosted the first International Inventor’s Day Convention from February 2 to 5 2008, in commemoration of His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary, 5 December 2007. His Majesty is the first member of the Thai Royal Family to be granted a patent for an invention.

HM the King: The Royal Imprimatur of Thai Sports

Throughout the pages of successive years of the Pattaya Mail and the Bangkok Post, as well as such leading magazines as Sawasdee, Thailand’s leading yachting correspondent Peter Cummins has chronicled the incomparable contributions His Majesty the King has made to the Thai sports men and women and a huge spectrum of Thai sports.

HM the King’s own example has always been a great source of inspiration to athletes: every sailor knows that His Majesty is a Gold Medal helmsman, winning the OK Dinghy Class in the South East Asian Peninsular Games on the 16th of December 1967, this day now celebrated as “National Sports Day” in the Kingdom.

This nautical record is matched by a land-based one, HM the King being the only person to have lit the torch, opening the quadrennial Asian Games on four occasions, last time being in Bangkok in 1998, at the Rajamangala Stadium, just one day after his Seventy-first birthday.

For example, when His Majesty the King trained a magnifying glass on the torch to ignite the flame opening the Thirteenth Asian Games in December 1998, it was symbolic. The Monarch, an ardent supporter of all sports in the Kingdom and elsewhere was, through that simple ritual, figuratively conducting sunlight and the blessing it brings, onto the Games.

From another viewpoint, His Majesty’s care for the environment and the natural state of the ecology as life support system for his subjects is also well known. What better way to light the torch than using Nature’s own power?

And what better sport for preserving Nature’s gifts than sailing?  Forty years ago this month, in fact, HM the King himself stood on the winner’s podium as a Gold Medallist sailor in the Fourth South East Asian Peninsular Games (changed in 1975 to the South East Asian Games when Indonesia and the Philippines were admitted). On that occasion, HM the King came equal-first with his eldest daughter HRH Ubolratana in the OK Dinghy Section of those Games.  It is a sporting record never likely to be equalled. HM the King has been and inspiration to Thai athletes for four decades since then.

In fact, as is also well known, one of the best regattas in the region - if not the world - is the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, sailed to honour His Majesty’s birthday every December since 1987.  HM the King is the Royal Patron of the regatta.

More appropriately, within the context of this story outlining HM the King’s total support to Thai athletes and sports generally, no doubt, on the eve of the recent 15th Asian games in Doha, HM the King urged the huge Thai contingent of athletes “To play all sports according to the rules,” show true spirit for victory and friendship.

“If everybody does their best to win in both sports and friendship, the country will benefit,” HM the King added. “A successful Asian Games would show that the enthusiasm of Thai people had not been dulled during their fight against the country’s dire economic crisis,” the Monarch observed. He urged sportsmanship above all else: “Other competitors should not be regarded as enemies, but rather as fellow competitors,” HM the King concluded.

His Majesty is also well known as being highly-knowledgeable about many sports having, at various times, participated himself in skiing, motor racing, ice-skating, badminton, tennis, swimming and even a little golf.

As the then-president of the Thailand Olympic Committee, the late Air Chief Marshal Dawee Chullasapya emphasized when presenting HM the King with the highly-prestigious honour of “The Insignia of the Olympic Order” at Rajanives Hall, Chitralada Palace, in December, 1987: “The King is not just a world-class yachtsman, but he has also participated in - and encouraged - many other sports.”

“The Olympic award was made not only to recognize HM the King’s prowess as a dinghy sailor,” said ACM Dawee, “but also to acknowledge the leading role he has played in promoting all sports - in Thailand, in the region and internationally - always displaying a firm grasp on the history and the finer points of a multitude of sports,” ACM Dawee added.  His Majesty is the only reigning Monarch to receive this accolade.

Another Olympic honour was bestowed upon His Majesty in 2001, when the International Olympic Committee presented him with the IOC’s “Lalounis Cup”.

At work at Chitralada Villa, building one of his dinghies

In boxing, too, HM the King has proven to be most knowledgeable. In 2001, president of the World Boxing Council, Dr Jose Sulaiman, in bestowing upon His Majesty the WBC’s “Golden Shining Symbol of World Leadership Award”, was “amazed at HM the King’s knowledge of boxing”. Whereupon, HM the King urged Dr Sulaiman “to promote boxing not only as a sport ... but also as an art of self-defence.”

In Mexico, August 11, 2003, through the Royal Thai Embassy in Mexico City, HM the King, in turn, bestowed the title of “Second Class Knight Commander of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn” on Dr Sulaiman - one of the highest Royal Awards ever to be conferred on a sports official.

Their Majesties the King and Queen attend religious rites for the late
H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana,  at the Dusit Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace Friday,
Nov. 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Bureau of the Royal Household)

A Royal loss this year

 It is with heavy hearts that the people of the Kingdom mourned with His Majesty the King and the Royal Family when, in January this year, HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, the late beloved sister of HM the King died of abdominal cancer at the age of 84.

In November this year, Their Majesties the King and Queen hosted the grand six-day farewell funeral ceremony for the Beloved Princess.  The Royal Cremation started on November 14 when the His Majesty the King led the Royal Family in a ceremony at the Grand Palace, beginning with religious rites for HRH the late Princess at the Dusit Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great lit joss sticks and candles as Her Majesty Queen Sirikit looked on during the religious rites.

The grand cremation ceremony for HRH the Princess was held on Saturday, Nov. 15 at the Phra Maen Royal Ground in Bangkok.  HM the King, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, HRH Princess Chulabhorn, Her Royal Highness Srirasm, Princess Sirivannavari, and members of the Royal Family attended.

In the morning, the body of HM the King’s sister was carried to a seven-story pyre where she was cremated. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-serving monarch, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen paid their last respects, then kindled a fire beneath the funeral pyre after a day of Buddhist and Hindu rites for HRH the late Princess.

During the day, the royal cremation procession for the late Princess Galyani Vadhana slowly moved past the Grand Palace towards the crematorium. The Royal Great Victory Carriage carrying the urn and remains of HRH the Princess was pulled by soldiers dressed in ancient uniforms.

A Brahmin priest helped elevate the urn of the late Princess Galyani Vadhana on to the crematorium during the royal cremation rituals.

Tens of thousands of Thai people placed sandalwood flowers in front of a photo of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana at Sanam Luang near the royal palace, as did millions of people throughout the Kingdom at their local temples, during the funeral ceremony.

On November 18, Their Majesties the King and Queen, accompanied by HRH Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, HRH Princess Chulabhorn and Royal Family members traveled from Chitralada Palace to attend a religious ceremony to make merit for the relics of HRH the late Princess at the Dusit Throne Hall, Grand Palace. HRH Princess Ubolratana was on hand to receive the Royal Family members upon arrival. Their Majesties then paid respects to HRH the late Princess’s relics by performing religious rites with offerings.


As one would expect from a Monarch defined as “Mahasammata”, or a “King of Righteousness”, by all the people and who, upon his accession to the Throne in 1950, embraced the “Tenfold Moral principles of the Sovereign”, His Majesty has ruled quietly and without ostentation.

Starting very early in his reign and continuing to this day, HM the King, usually accompanied by HM the Queen and second daughter HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, travelled to the far corners of the Kingdom to learn first-hand from the farmers and peoples of the rural areas about their problems.

Again, as with all his other interests, the Monarch studies, observes, photographs and imbues himself with all the relevant knowledge and facts that he needs to move forward with recommendations, implementation of beneficial projects and follow-up.

The Thai Monarch is probably best known, universally, for his unbending resolve to improve the lives of each and every one of his people - a singular dedication to their welfare which has been acclaimed from all corners of the world.

A lasting image of HM the King is that of a man, often kneeling or sitting on the ground, poring over charts and topographical maps of the area, while surrounded by local farmers and villagers discussing their problems.

It has been recorded that HM the King has spent more than 200 days per year, for more than three decades, in rural areas where he has initiated some 2,000 projects aimed solely at improving the well-being of his people.

Thus, through the illustrious decades of his rule, HM the King has been the very embodiment of his “Oath of Accession” that “We will reign with Righteousness for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese People.”

The world’s longest-reigning Monarch, this week celebrating his eighty-first birthday, and now sixty-two years on the Thai Throne, continues to be, as he has been for the six decades of his just reign, “The light of his land, the pride of his people and a shining example to all peoples of a troubled world.”

It was during a visit to New York, as a young King, accompanied by his stunning bride, Queen Sirikit, that HM the King’s words were prophetic. Addressing a committee of the Metropolitan Museum in 1967, HM the King said: “Our world today is full of propaganda. Therefore, before we believe anything, we should first look closely at the underlying reasons. The Lord Buddha taught people to use their consciousness and intelligence to study, seek and consider whether His teachings were the truth that is believable rather than to believe (simply) because someone has enacted it.”

That was over forty years ago and, as we look around at the sorry state of our contemporary world, HM the King’s words still ring true.

All of us at the Pattaya Mail, Pattaya Blatt, Pattaya Mail on TV and Chiang Mai Mail extend our humblest wishes for a most happy 81st birthday.