The Thai people, on the 9th of June of every year, commemorate the death of King Ananda Mahidol, the eighth monarch of the Chakri dynasty and a young king who made great contributions to medical and educational development in Thailand.
Born on 20th September 1925 in Heidelberg, Germany, King Ananda Mahidol was the second child of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkhla and Mom Sangwan, who later became Princess Sri Nagarindra, the Princess Mother. He was also the grandson of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and the elder brother of King Bhumibol Aduyadej of Thailand.
King Rama VIII ascended the throne on 2nd March 1934 at the age of 9, when he was still a student in Switzerland, following the abdication of his uncle, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII). The throne was passed to the young prince while the country was undergoing a major change; its administrative system shifted abruptly from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy due to the coup of 24th June 1932. However, King Ananda Mahidol and his family had chosen to remain in Switzerland for the purpose of their education and safety during World War II. After assuming kingship, the young monarch only visited Thailand twice.
In December 1945, King Ananda Mahidol returned to Thailand for the second time for his coronation ceremony. However, the young king died on 9 June 1946 due to a bullet wound, at the mere age of 21. The untimely death of the young king caused great sorrow for the Thai people. After his death, the crown was passed to his younger brother, Prince Bhumibol.
During his lifetime, King Rama VIII desired to create more medical schools in the country with aims to produce a sufficient number of medical staff to help the Thai people. Back then, only one medical school existed in Thailand, Siriraj Hospital, which could only accommodate 50 students at the most. Thus, King Rama VIII’s idea prompted the establishment of what is today the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. In remembrance of His Majesty’s graciousness, the Faculty of Medicine has designated 9th June of each year as the day to pay homage to the late king.
On Ananda Mahidol Day 2012, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej presided over the unveiling of the King Rama VIII statue, which will become a new landmark of Bangkok. Built as a tribute to the late king, the statue is situated at the foot of the Rama VIII Bridge. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has also constructed a public park in the area, which was named by HM the King as “Suan Luang Rama VIII”.