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On October 14, Joey and I landed in Bangkok to see the beginning of what will be an unprecedented mourning period for King Bhumipol Adulyadej, Rama IX, who passed away the day before. On July 22, 2015 the author wrote a blog describing King Bhumipol as one of the two great kings of Thailand, with the other being King Chulalongkorn, Rama V.

King Bhumipol provided the strength and wisdom to create stability in Thailand as it navigated its way through the Vietnam War and the evolution of its democracy. At age 88, he was the longest reigning monarch in the world and clearly one of the most deeply respected ever. Over one million people have paid their respects as of this writing with the mourning period to extend to January 20, 2017. What follows below is a brief illustration of the eight decades of this inspirational man's life with the images provided by the Bangkok Post.

King Bhumipol was born on December 5, 1927 in Boston, Massachusetts as his parents were medical students there.


Prince Bhumibol and his very close, older brother, King Ananda, were inseparable. However, King Ananda was tragically killed by a gunshot on June 9, 1946, in his bedchamber at Borombiman Mansion in the Bangkok Grand Palace compound. The Prince then became the next King of Thailand.



While the King was convalescing from a serious car accident in Lausanne, Switzerland he came to know M.R. Sirikit, daughter of the Thai ambassador to the UK, who was in boarding school there. The relationship led to their marriage on April 28, 1950. Their marriage was followed a week later by his Coronation at the Grand Palace. In keeping with the traditional role of a Thai male, he had previously been ordained as a Buddhist monk.


His Majesty travelled all over Thailand working on projects to improve the lives of his people.


The Royal projects created by King Bhumipol led to the eventual replacement of opium crops with commercially viable alternatives such as Arabica coffee among the various hill tribes of northern Thailand.


There was a massive outpouring of people to honor the King on his 60th birthday.


His Majesty continued to devote his efforts to improving the agricultural capabilities of Thai farmers with research given his scientific mind. In the next image, King Bhumipol is shown with his mother, HRH The Princess Mother. By his own account, "She taught me everything." She was amazing in all of her efforts for the people of Thailand and set a wonderful example for her son.

She passed away on July 18, 1995 at the age of 95. By coincidence, the author landed in Bangkok the day after her passing as well. It is a special privilege to have been able to join in the mourning of two such caring and inspirational individuals in the country with its people held dear by the author.



In King Bhumipol's final decade, age and health conditions began to limit his ability to travel widely. Nonetheless, he had repeated briefings regarding his various projects.


The author witnessed the compassion and care exhibited by King Bhumipol for 48 years of his reign. He was truly a remarkable person and left Thailand a much better place for which we are all most fortunate.

 

 

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