In Thailand most people can’t remember a time when King Bhumibol Adulyadej wasn’t a King. His death has triggered a widespread grief and also left the country the challenge of moving ahead without the stabilizing influence of the world’s longest serving monarch.
The King’s reign stretches seven turbulent decades. During his reign the country passed through the cold war and conflicts in nearby Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. At home, King Bhumibol Adulyadej witnessed several coups and dozens of Prime Ministers while Thailand developed into a manufacturing and export economy.
The monarchy was at a low point when King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended the throne as a teenager in 1946. It was just fourteen years after the military ended the monarchy’s absolute powers. The young King took the opportunity to improve the life’s of ordinary Thais by channeling some of the family’s wealth into rural development projects. His public stature began to grow and demand moral authority and loyalty. In Bangkok today his face is hard to miss.
He was also known for his keen interest in Sailing. He loved Jazz music and played a saxophone and composed several songs. As a constitutional monarch the King of Thailand has no official political role but King Bhumibol Adulyadej used his moral authority to ease some of the crisis that deeply divided the nation.
The government declared a mourning period of 1 year and no government event will be held for 30 days.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej will likely be succeeded by his only son, Crown Prince MahaVajiralongkorn.
The Wall Street Journal