The Daily You is one with the people of Thailand following the passing of their beloved monarch, Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX), who passed away Thursday after battling ill health for several years.
The late king was at the time of his death the world’s longest-serving head of state, having ruled for over 70 years since assuming the Thai throne in 1946. He has been credited for overseeing the successful transformation of Thailand into one of Asia’s emerging powerhouses and a force on the regional stage.
Born in 1927 in the United States, Bhumibol became king through an unexpected turn of events that included the conversion of the Thai monarchy from an absolute into a constitutional one, and the still-unexplained death of his brother Ananda Mahidol, Rama VIII, that led him to become king at just eighteen. He chose not to assume his position immediately, finishing his studies first during a time of political uncertainty for Thailand.
However, the king’s strong sense of duty as spiritual and moral leader of the Siamese people transformed the monarchy into one of the most-respected and beloved institutions in the world, spurred by equally harsh lèse majesté laws that can dole out 15-year sentences for even so much as negatively commenting or discussing on the senior royals.
That isn’t to say the King was incapable or pretentious. Far from it. A highly cultured man he was (his biggest hobbies included jazz music and photography), Bhumibol presented himself as an ideal leader: a reassuring tower of strength for the Thai people in times of uncertainty or turmoil, a champion of the people who helped develop the poverty-stricken rural areas of his country, and a modest, lead-by-example influencer (the Thai royal family’s immense wealth notwithstanding).
Even when the monarchy was constitutional and thus by legal definition a ceremonial role, King Bhumibol’s great popularity among the people still granted him a unique charismatic aura that can make – and has made – even the most senior heads of government in Thailand fall to their knees in front of him, and make decisions based on his givings.
Throughout his seven decades of rule, although the backdrop of the government was prone to frequent change, King Bhumibol always placed the welfare of his people first, living a life of service to his subjects and his country. He was to them the one shining beacon of hope, of stability, of reassurance, of unity. And today, Thailand unites in mourning his passing.
And so we, The Daily You, salute the King.