13th October 2016 will forever be etched in the minds of the Thai people and in the history books of Thailand as the day that the nation lost a Great King, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej 5th December 1927 – 13th October 2016. Ending the longest reign for a Thai King of 70 years at the age of 89 years.
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was one of the most loved Kings in Thai history. He was known as The King of Kings, the Developer King, the Father of Thailand, but to me, I also know him as The Humble King.
I have come to know him better only in the past 7 years when I first step foot in Thailand. From the airport to the hotel, pictures of the King and Queen in larger than life size were in the front of most buildings. I often wondered why. During my short first stay in Bangkok, I happened to go to a cinema and before the show started after all the movie teasers, everyone got up and stood at attention to an anthem playing. After it ended I asked my friends, was that the National Anthem of Thailand and she said yes before it became a song dedicated to and in respect of the King of Thailand.
In the short anthem for The King, images of his work with the people all over the country was portrayed. The first thing I thought to myself was, “what a remarkable Monarch Thailand has, where the King actually goes out on the field and meet his subjects with no pomp and splendor or a glitzy entourage!” I was not only amazed but curious to find out more of this Amazing King of Thailand.
From my friends I heard more about the King, such as how he liked to walk among the common people without any protocol, would be invited to the humble home of a villager and not decline the offer and even more. To me, these were the qualities of a simple and humble King that you only heard about in stories but existed right here in Thailand with one of the most powerful Monarch in the modern world. I was truly in awe and learned as much as I possibly could about such a man that the people affectionately called the Father of Thailand.
This is my tribute to the Father of Thailand, the late HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I have seen numerous pictures of His Majesty on the internet, in books and on the news. The thing that most touched my heart and I would give the utmost respect for, is His Majesty’s consistency in being so dedicated to giving his life to progress the country and his people.
Throughout the 70 years of his reign since the day he became King, he has dedicated almost all of his days to exploring various corners of Thailand, most of them in obscure places that even most of us would not think of going because it is unreachable, wild, overgrown and just plain difficult to get too with no modern comforts. Not so for HM King Bhumibol. With his camera, a note pad and pencil, maps and pure tenacity of strength and determination, he braved all the discomforts and difficulties to reach even the most remote of places and villages.
While it is difficult for foreigners to fathom the expanse of His Majesty’s achievements or why he is so loved by the people or why such pomp and mourning at his passing. One has to just look at all the documented footage and pictures to understand the love, dedication and concern of this remarkable King for his country and subjects.
I remember one excerpt from an interview with Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on why things were done this way. Her simple reply was “we did not just want to go out occasionally to meet the people, if we wanted to eradicate poverty and build sustainability, we have to go out and meet our subjects where they are and teach them how to do it’ and so, the Royal Projects were created. Not just one or two but hundreds of them all throughout Thailand.
His Majesty King Bhumibol, never thought twice about getting his hands all muddy or his shoes all ruined by the miles of trekking through jungle and muddy fields when he could have stayed home, been pampered and gotten a manicure. Every step of the way he earned the right to be in the heart of the Thai people. You can see the results of his Royal Projects and fruits of his labor from the North to the South of Thailand and some of the most beautiful Royal Projects are in the mountains of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Many of them have now become centers of learning for agriculture or are agricultural projects that help to sustain whole villages.
HM King Bhumibol also always stressed on “living within your means”, for though he could have anything he wanted, His Majesty practiced what he preached. If you look at his photos closely, you can see he wears no jewelry except for his wedding band (he believed in a complete and happy family based on loyalty and togetherness. His marriage to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit lasted as long as his reign as King, an impressive 70 years) and a simple watch, mind you it is not even a Rolex.
He also showed that all lives mattered, not just human but also animals. He is fondly revered for picking up street dogs and taking them to live with him in the palace. Treating each of them with much love and understanding, while the most famous is Khun Daeng a dog he loved very much and has appeared in many of his pictures. His lesson was to show that even animals in need on the streets should not be ignored.
This Great King, the King of Kings and beloved Father of Thailand was as simple a man as he could be which made him very loved by his subjects. For 70 years and as Thailand’s longest reigning monarch, through his wisdom, love and care for his people has made Thailand one of the fastest developing countries in the world. His many projects brought sustainability, work and income not only for Thai subjects but also the many hill tribes from Myanmar, Laos, and China who have called Thailand “home”.
Few, if any monarchs in history have accomplished this much in their life time. The Thai people looked to him for advice in times of difficulty, celebrated with him on his birthdays and worshiped him as much as if he was their own father.
Therefore today, at the sad news of his demise, it is no wonder that a nation weeps at the saddest news that they knew would one day come. HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej had worked himself hard even through days when he was sickly and being blind in one eye, did not stop him from doing what he had achieved. Now as his heart stops in his tired body, with legs and hands that can no longer have the strength, he has given his all to build a mighty Thailand. Lucky and blessed are we to have witnessed this era of Great King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and for future generations to continue his great works and philosophies.
Remarkably, HM King Bhumibol was also a very accomplished photographer, jazz musician, talented artist, skilled sailor and great sportsman among many other things. He set the perfect example for all to follow which was to live one’s life to the fullest, accomplish much, dedication and love for parents and family, be generous, be kind and most of all to believe in oneself with all goodness and integrity. He never just said these things but showed it by example for all to follow.
As a nation weeps and mourns for the loss of such a beloved Father, I, as a guest of this great country weep with you on this immense loss. It has shown me that even a King can be humble and yet mighty. That through hard work and dedication, much can be achieved to reach sustainability. The demise of Great King Bhumibol Adulyadej is one of the greatest loss to Thailand and the end of his Golden Era but the legacy of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej will live on forever in the hearts of each Thai and Thai at heart for generations to come. Rest in Blessed Peace His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and forever watch over the land you love so much and her peoples.