The Great Thai king celebrates 60 Years on the Throne!
Joined by Royal Families and National Leaders from Around the World, and Hundreds of Thousands of Jubilant Thai Subjects
Remember Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance Man? Well that wonderfully talented man had nothing on Thailand's beloved king of the past 60 years, HRH King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who just a few years back won the right to add the words "The Great" after his name!
Aside from spending the overwhelming portion of his time with his Thai subjects performing important state and educational ceremonies and making presentations, Thailand's king also is:
- a poet,
- a painter,
- an author,
- a popular music composer,
- a noted musician, fluent on several instruments, but especially the trombone,
- a yacht racer,
- a philosopher teacher,
- a philantropist,
- a scientist,
- an agriculturalist,
- a flood control expert, an expert in political science and law, and the one problem solver to whom all 60,000,000 people of Thailand will listen in time of trouble or need!
Indeed, it is difficult to tell the truth about Thailand's King without sounding like we are exaggerating. In fact, so great have been the accomplishments of this King, that even exaggeration would be difficult. For anyone who does not know about His Majesty, the following are a few biographical facts.
His Highness was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 5 December, 1927, where his father HRH Prince Mahidol of Songkla was studying medicine at Harvard University. The family returned to Thailand in 1928, and his father died expectedly the following year, 1929. A coup d'etat in 1932 changed the Thai (then called Siamese) government from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, and Thailand gained its first constitution. A number of years later, His Highness' elder brother, HRH Prince Ananda Mahidol, became King. Upon his brother's sudden death in June, 1946, Prince Bhumibol returned from Switzerland where he had been studying and assumed the throne. The new King, being only 18 years old, again returned to Swizerland to complete his education, changing his major from science and engineering to political science and law.
In 1949, HRH King Bhumibol became engaged to his future Queen, Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kittiyakara, who, as the story goes, had been his nurse following eye surgery in Switzerland. Officially crowned HRH King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 5 May, 1950, the King at that time named Mom Rajawongse Sirikit his Queen, and they returned together to Switzerland until December, 1551, at which time both took up full-time residence in Thailand. The King was at that time 24
World leaders have long memories of other leaders who are truly excellent and sincere caretakers of their own people. Thus, during the recent Diamond Jubilee in celebration of His Majesty's first 60 years of reign, foreign royal families, national leaders and dignitaries from nearly every other country on earth came to pay homage to the King, and hundreds of thousands of adoring Thai subjects turned up in huge masses to honor him, each sporting a yellow shirt in honor of the occasion. The king himself (urging compassion, mutual aid and honesty in all acts) said, in part, "...I urge everyone in this congregation and Thais from all walks of life to cherish and firmly uphold righteousness and moral integrity. This dedication to moral security should be undertaken without interruption, so the country can live on with happiness, now and in the future..." Such words are indeed heeded by the Thai people.
And the United Nations itself, in its first such award ever, presented His Majesty The United Nations Development Programme Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given in person by His Excellency U.N. Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan on 26 May, 2006.
As noted recently by the Bangkok Post, there are three general roles in which the king serves his subjects, as follows:
- As Guardian of the Nation. Acting under the constitution within his rights "to be consulted; to encourage; and to warn", this hands-on King fully respects and follows the Thai constitution, and never meddles in government affairs. However, on those occasions when government leaders seem to reach a "dead end" in solving problems, and the people begin looking toward the King longingly to step in with his always-sage advice, he will as a last resort address the government leaders and the people – so wisely, so knowingly and with such touching care and concern that his words achieve an almost immediate positive effect. Thus on 25 April, 2006, with the country in seemingly insoluble turmoil from a constitutional crisis between the government and those who wished the government to resign, His Majesty provided a remarkable solution, as always. To quote the Bangkok Post, 'In his most direct political message, His Majesty separately told judges of the Supreme and Administrative courts to explore all legal solutions to bring the country out of what he described as a "poitical mess". His Majesty said the election which produced a one-party parliament was undemocratic, and rejected calls by opponents of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that a royally-appointed premier be named to replace Thaksin, pointing out that such an appointment was undemocratic..' He said much more, of course, and at this time, thanks to His Majesty once again, the courts are in the process of resolving this crisis, hopefully once and for all.
- As the Working Monarch. Donning clothes of the ordinary people, His Majesty brings his knowledge of science, agriculture, and farming in general to the common people on the villages, introducing, for example, multiple and alternative crop ideas and methods which he has learned, and, even more importantly, which he has devised himself – ideas which for many years have enriched and provided a better way of life for rural people across the country and continue to do so. Likewise, his cloud-seeding projects to bring rain in times of drought, and his flood prevention and control methods have saved countless lives and multiple billions of baht of property and crop losses, while enabling the everyday life of everyone to go on without loss of time and earnings owing to impassable flooded roads.
Finally, of his own efforts to help, he modestly proclaims, "Some people say that a royal project cannot be touched. This is a mistaken view, or a view that is not quite right. If a royal project cannot be commented on, Thailand cannot develop. A royal project is a royal opinion..."
- As the Beloved King. How dearly the people of Thailand love their King is again best expressed by the Bangkok Post, as follows:
"Be they rural or urban, literate or illiterate, young or old, the King's subjects all express their affection for their sovereign in one way or another. Some enshrine the King's portrait on an altar. Others show their support by wearing a 'Tong Daeng' T-shirt (Tong Daeng is His Majesty's favorite dog) or a 'We love Our King' wristband...
'The public has strong faith in His Majesty because he is a giver', Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, secretary-general of the Chaipattana Foundation, explained. 'Throughout his hard-working life, His Majesty has done all he could do for the people without asking anything in return. If a problem arose in the country, His Majesty would not be reluctant to work for a solution whether it is human, social, political or scientific. He would do it all, as long as it relates to his country.'
What impresses (the people) is not the grandeur or extravagance but the simplicity of the spaces he inhabits. Rather than adding to the glamor of Chitralada Palace, His Majesty added a fish pool, a rice mill and a dairy farm. Rather than ordering the construction of a fancy garden at Klaikangwol Palace in Hua Hin, His Masjesty permits students form Klaikangwol School to grow vegetables in the flowerbeds. Instead of raising a canine with a foreign pedigree, His Majesty adoped a street dog..."
Clearly one can see what sets the Thai King apart from most of the rest of us. At the same time, one can also see in his own special life a hint of what makes the Thai people themselves so special – and such good hosts to us foreigners!
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about Thailand's revered monarch, His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej, but also cannot help but wonder if you would not love to live in this wonderfully friendly country that is home to His Majesty, and help his subjects master English by teaching professionally?
If so, and if you have not completed your interactive TEFL Course training yet, we recommend that you do your training with TEXT-AND-TALK Academy here in Thailand (the Land of Smiles), where the students are eager and respectful and our course trainers 'people persons' who will take care of you and help you with your new career in every way.
If you need training, please do not settle for less than the best!
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