The King of Thailand
The King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej (Thai: ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช; RTGS: Phumiphon Adunyadet; Born 5 December 1927) is the King of Thailand. He is also known as Rama IX, as he is the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he is the world’s longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, serving for 69 years, 179 days.
In 1957, the overthrow of his then government was justified by the military with allegations of lèse majesté, which is offence against the dignity of the monarch, punishable under Thai law. Although Bhumibol did invite public criticism in a 2005 speech, the lèse majesté laws have not been revoked by the Thai parliament.
Forbes estimated Bhumibol’s fortune—including property and investments managed by the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), a unique body that is neither private nor government-owned, to be US$30 billion in 2010, and he was the head of the magazine’s list of the “world’s richest royals” from 2008 to 2013.In May 2014, Bhumibol’s wealth was once again listed as US$30 billion. Officially the assets managed by the CPB are owned by the crown as an institution, not Bhumibol Adulyadej as an individual.
Bhumibol was born at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States, on 5 December 1927. He was the youngest son of HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, the Prince of Songkla, and his commoner wife Mom Sangwan (later HRH Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother). His U.S. birth certificate reads simply “Baby Songkla“, as the parents had to consult his uncle, KingRama VII (Prajadhipok), then head of the House of Chakri, for an auspicious name. The king chose Bhumibol Adulyadej, meaning “strength of the land, incomparable power” (from Sanskrit भूमिबल अतुल्यतेज, bhūmibala atulyatēja). His father was enrolled in the public health program at Harvard University, which explains his being the only monarch to be born in the US:46-47 Bhumibol had an elder sister, Princess Galyani Vadhana, and an elder brother, Prince Ananda Mahidol.
Bhumibol came to Thailand in 1928, after his father obtained a certificate from Harvard. His father died of kidney failure in September 1929, when Bhumibol was less than two years old. He briefly attended Mater Dei school in Bangkok, but in 1933 his mother took her family to Switzerland, where he continued his education at the École nouvelle de la Suisse romande in Lausanne. In 1934 Bhumibol was given his first camera, which ignited his lifelong enthusiasm for photography.When Bhumibol’s childless uncle Prajadhipok abdicated in 1935, his nine-year-old brother Ananda became the new King Rama VIII. However, the family remained in Switzerland and the affairs of the head of state were conducted by a regency council. They returned to Thailand for only two months in 1938. In 1942, Bhumibol became a jazz enthusiast, and started to play the saxophone, a passion that he has kept throughout his life. He received the baccalauréat des lettres (high-school diploma with a major in French literature, Latin, and Greek) from the Gymnase Classique Cantonal of Lausanne, and by 1945 had begun studying science at the University of Lausanne, when World War II ended and the family was able to return to Thailand.