The Royal Family of Thailand photographed in the Baisal Daksin Hall of the Grand Palace on the occasion of the Longest Reign Celebrations.
It has often been said that, apart from the normal economic and security requirements, the independence and integrity of Thailand are assured by three unifying factors: its people's freedom-loving spirit, the Buddhist Religion and the Thai Throne. Indeed, the three factors were already there together at the first founding of the first integrated Thai nation with its capital at Sukhothai more than seven centuries ago and have successfully survived the test of time just as Thailand itself has also survived as a united and independent country throughout its long History up to the present days, while countries all around in Southeast Asia at certain periods fell disintegrated or victims of colonialist powers. For that reason, no Thai would now deny that as these unique and sacred institutions survive and flourish, so the Thai nation will also survive and flourish. Without either one of them, no one could foresee what Thailand would be like.
His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkhla holding His Majesty the King. Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S.A. 1928.
Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother with Their Royal Highnesses Prince Ananda Mahidol, Prince Bhumibol Adulyadej and Princess Galyani Vadhana. Lausanne, Switzerland. 1928.
The present Thai Monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was
born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on Monday the 5th of December 1927,
being the third and youngest child of Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess
Mahidol of Songkhla and grandson in direct line of the celebrated King
Chulalongkorn or Rama V of the present Royal House of Chakri of Bangkok. After a period
of primary schooling in Bangkok, he went with his Family to Switzerland where he
received his secondary as well as university education. While already King, he
married the 18 year-old Mom Rajawongse Sirikit, daughter of His Highness Prince
Chandaburi Suranath (Mom Chao Nakkhatra Mangala Kitiyakara) and Mom Luang
Bua Kitiyakara, on the 28th of April 1950. Their Majesties now have four children,
1. Her Royal Highness Princess Ubol Ratana, b. 5th April 1951, in Lausanne, Switzerland. 2. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, b. 28th July 1952, in Bangkok, Thailand. 3. Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn. b. 2nd April 1955, in Bangkok, Thailand. 4. Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, b. 4th July 1957, in Bangkok, Thailand.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej acceded to the Throne as Rama the IX of Thailand on the 9th of June 1946, when he was only 18 years of age. Thailand had become a Constitutional Monarchy since 1932 but the then King Prajadhipok reigned only for a few more years and King Ananda Mahidol, the present King's Elder Brother, who succeeded to the Throne at a very tender age, spent his Life mostly at study abroad before he met his unfortunate demise at the age of 20. The task, therefore, fell upon King Bhumibol Adulyadej to be the first really reigning Monarch under the Constitutional System and thus to give a new and contemporary meaning to the Thai Throne. With a perceptive as well as imaginative mind and an inborn sense of intense dedication, His Majesty has set himself with relish from the beginning of his Reign to analyze and find the true circumstances of the task at hand in order to devise the best approach and then try to accomplish the task in the best possible manner. His sense of involvement, be it in small or significant duties, is always so total that he would never feel relieved until each duty is carried out to his complete satisfaction.
His Majesty starts by being meticulous in what is usually regarded as mere formalities such as in putting his Seal or Signature to all Laws and Decrees down to minor Public Orders. He instead acquaints himself with all subjects which pass before him and makes observations wherever appropriate, requesting clarifications from the relevant officials wherever necessary. He makes formal State Functions into personal affairs, even adjusting the details of some ceremonies to make them more authentic and meaningful, and above all, he always takes such opportunities to meet and talk with the people from all walks of life who attend these ceremonies in order to learn the true circumstances of their professions and thereby the true conditions of the country. His Majesty takes equally seriously such formal roles as of the Highest Commander of the Armed Forces or the Country's Supreme Representative in Foreign Affairs. He thus gets to know the problems and conditions of the country's fighting men at first hand and personally tends to their morale, equipment and bodily ills or comforts. He receives accredited representatives of friendly countries in both formal and informal manners, and he gives personal advices to all Thai representatives going abroad so that diplomacy is carried out in a more friendly and co-operative atmosphere. Their Majesties have, besides, paid State and Official Visits to more than 25 countries in all Continents and have received about the same number of visits from Foreign Heads of States, always exerting their charms and thus helping to enhance understandings between Thailand and the rest of the world.
The emphasis is given by His Majesty, in particular, to the close contact which he holds with the ordinary Thai people in all corners of the Realm. Either through extended tours or brief but frequent visits, Their Majesties have been to every one of the 72 provinces which go to compose Thailand and the more remote the area, perhaps the more often it gets visited. His activities in this direction are centred on getting to know the local conditions and problems from the people themselves and, after consulting with the officials concerned, to devise the best ways to improve the conditions or solve the problems. At the same time, he would emphasize to the local population the necessity of self-improvement and the impedance of the basic factors of life such as education and health so that at least the level of their general welfare could be improved.
His Majesty, however, never limits himself to academic studies of the country's conditions and problems but also tries in all practical ways to complement the Government's works in all appropriate fields of actions. With a group of volunteers and using his Privy Funds supplemented by voluntary contributions, he has helped to set up and supervise numerous Foundations and action groups in such fields as Public Health ,Education and Disaster Relief in order that medical care, supplies of food and other necessities of life, books and educational accessories, as well as breeding animals and seeds for propagation are available for distribution to needy people. His programme to solve the difficult and special problems of the Hill-tribes people in the northern part of the country, for example. have been successful to the extent that within a decade of its inception, agricultural methods normally practised in the lowlands have replaced the centuries old method of slash-and-burn cultivation which have destroyed vast areas of valuable forest reserves. Moreover, the programme now embraces introductory stages of activities ranging from animal husbandry. wet and dry cultivation of rice and other cash crops such as coffee, tobacco, soybean and corn. to production of preserved fruits and vegetables that in stages would alleviate the hardship and suffering of this poorer sector of the rural population whose standard of living is close to the margin of subsistence. Reafforestation projects are also a major concern with a goal for replenishing destroyed forests for the preservation of watersheds and natural reservoirs. The growing success of the programme has also served to eliminate gradually the growth of opium poppies which used to be widespread among the Hill-tribes of Thailand. for the agricultural incomes earned through the programme substantially exceed the price which Hill-tribesmen used to acquire through the selling of opium. For this reason, His Majesty's programme has received enormous assistance and support from international organizations of all kinds which are interested in narcotics control and has even been taken as a model upon which similar programmes of crop substitution have been instituted in many other countries afflicted by the same problem of opium growing and narcotics production.
The thoroughness, originality and success of His Majesty's projects are manifested in the agricultural experiments undertaken within the Palace grounds. The cultivation of different species of rice utilizing various mixtures of natural and chemical fertilizers in a variety of soil conditions that were experimented with in order to be used in the Annual Ploughing Ceremony resulted in a demonstration farm which introduced new technology in rice-cultivation to farmers for an increase in paddy production. The necessity to store a surplus of the cultivated rice led to storage experiments in traditional wooden granaries and modern concrete as well as metal silos. which in turn led to the establishment of a rice-mill to study the most economical method of rice milling. It then followed that a Husk Grinding Project to utilize the by-products of rice milling for use as fuel and fertilizer was initiated soon after.
His Majesty has assisted in diversifying the livelihood of farmers through the promotion and extension of dairy farming whereby simple methods of animal husbandry, milking, pasteurizing and packaging are demonstrated to the interested public at the Dairy Farm and Milk Production Unit within the grounds of the Palace. A Powdered Milk Plant was also established to process the surplus of milk for distribution to the needy and to be sold on the market. All these experiments are considered as pilot projects for further application by farmers or farmers groups to promote and enhance the well-being of their families.
His Majesty's ingenuity and intellectual leadership in analysing the prob- lems of land reclamation and the usage of arable land to its fullest content led to instigation of land development projects with infrastructures necessary for agriculture such as the construction of weirs and dams for watershed development and flood control. cropping and pasture development. farm ponds and fish ponds. as well as breeding of cattle and utilization of waste products for improvement of the soil. Proper management of water resources for maximum benefit and proper treatment of used water is also a high priority concern of His Majesty. Blueprints of machinery designed by His Majesty to treat polluted water has been presented to the Royal Irrigation Department for experimental assembly and use.
His Majesty's advocacy of joint ownership of land by farmers' groups to prevent transference of land tenure into the hands of absentee landlords and financiers and advocacy of co-operative villages in which members and their families are given the right to till the land for perpetuity while the governing board of the co-operative is responsible for marketing, purchasing of necessary seeds, crops. foodstuffs and agricultural equipments or utensils for the members were realized in the Land Development Projects on a co-operative basis at Hoob Kapong and Dhon Khun Huay in Phetchaburi Province, Nong Plub in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province and Thung Lui Lai in Chaiyaphum Province. Such projects have provided farming families with permanent and sufficient land to work and to live on, thus eliminating shifting cultivation and illegal settlements while promoting agricultural activities that have procured the highest possible yields.
Mention must also be made of His Majesty's initiative in devising the Artificial Rain-making Project to provide water to arid areas in order to sustain crops beset by drought and his promoting of the digging of drainage canals most of which are designed to mitigate flooding in vast areas of paddy land and some of wnich are designed to reclaim swamp land for allocation into co-operative villages under an integrated scheme of land and community development to enhance the livelihood and well-being of the people of Thailand.
His Majesty's attention and consideration are given especially to the problems of the country's youth. To provide needy and orphaned children with education in the most economical and effective manner possible. hence minimiz- ing their chances of becoming unemployed, His Majesty initiated Welfare Schools attached to selected monasteries in the central provinces. Such schools followed the traditional pattern of education whereby monks taught subjects not contrary to Buddhist discipline while lay-teachers assisted in other subjects in accordance with Governmental educational programmes. Support for primary and secondary schools in remote areas of the south and northeastern parts of Thailand through Royal Funds for construction materials has also been given with labour jointly donated by army engineers in the particular Army Region as well as by the local populace.
In order to create a sense of self-responsibility and duty by youth to the society as a whole, His Majesty promoted the writing of a Thai Junior Encyclo- paedia in whicn useful informations are gathered for children with varying levels of educational background for home studies. The encyclopaedia includes matters in the fields of science and technology, history, mathematics and agriculture with the cost of printing borne by His Majesty while committees of specialists involved in research and writing have willingly donated their services to a project considered to be of great benefits to the public.
Apart from tending to the material needs of education, His Majesty has managed to strike a remarkably close relationship with the country's youthful citizens and particularly with students of all levels. He maintains personal and special contacts with them by regularly attending such formal functions as the Degree Ceremonies in which His Majesty travels to each Metropolitan and Provincial Campus to confer honour on each individual recipient, as well as holds himself ready to meet with the students on all appropriate informal occasions. Through sheer concentration and a will to understand, His Majesty has managed to win considerable trust and affection of the country's student communities who have come to value greatly the advices and guidance of His Majesty in all affairs including such important items as their basic attitudes to life, work and study.
His Majesty, besides. never ceases to extol the virtues of the country's other pillar of existence and that is the Buddhist Religion. He caters to the full to all the Buddhist traditions of Thailand including giving up his regal duties and becoming a Buddhist monk for a while in order to meditate and make merits. His Addresses and advices often quote the Buddhist Scripture and Principles as the bases of all his thoughts and actions. The Constitution also appoints him as the Defender of all other Faiths in Thailand and he on his part carries out this latter duty to the full and in a spirit of complete tolerance. On appropriate occasions, he gives bounties to Buddhist and institutions of other religions alike and he pays equal attention to problems of other religious groups.
His Majesty is also Patron of the Arts and Sports and again he is not so simply nominally. His talent in music and especially in the composition of jazz and the so-called popular music is celebrated beyond the boundaries of his own country. Whenever he has spare time from his arduous duties, he finds satisfaction and relaxation also in painting and photography as well as in various sports with particular emphasis on yachting.
His Majesty has devoted over forty-three years of service for the benefits and happiness of his people. The success of His Majesty's reign is clear for all to see. People in all spheres of life from the highest officials to the peasants in the border areas seek and value the advices of His Majesty in their daily conducts as well as when they are faced with ditficult problems. They all know, besides. that His Majesty's advices will always be given with true willingness after careful study of the circumstances and out of a dedicated sense of devotion to their secure and happy existence. The relationship between King and people is thus firmly built upon the bases of mutual trust, interest and affection. The words in the Constitution that the King is the Repository of the Sacred Trust of the Thai People and the Supreme Symbol of the Nation's Unity are thus given their true and material meaning. To most people. the task which His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has set himself to accomplish to give a new significance to the Thai Throne under a Constitutional system must seem to be nearing a very successful end, he, however. in his total dedication and involvement in the task, can never see an end. Every day instead brings new challenges and becomes but another step in the ever widening and ever lengthening path of his dutiful Life
Office of the National Culture Commission
Department of Fine Arts
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration
Old Japan Students Association
The Embassy of Japan
The Japan Foundation
Japanese Chamber of Commerce