15 October 2016


King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand died yesterday. He had been on the throne for seventy years and was revered by ordinary Thai people like a god. No visit to a cinema in  Thailand is complete without a rendition of "The King's Song" and when the associated images appear on screen you must stand to attention or risk arrest. King Bhumibol Adulyadej's image is everywhere and I know that the Thai people will be hurting terribly today as they begin a period of national mourning that will last a year.
We, servants of His great Majesty,
prostrate our heart and head,
to pay respect to the ruler, 
whose merits are boundless,
our glorious sovereign ,
the greatest of Siam,
with great and lasting honour,
We are secure and peaceful 
because of your royal rule,
the result of royal protection
is people living in happiness and in peace,
May it be that whatever you will,
be done according to the hopes of your great heart
as we wish you victory, hurrah!

This what President Obama had to say about him a few hours after the king's death, "I had the honour of calling on His Majesty the King during my visit to Thailand in 2012, and recall his grace and warmth, as well as his deep affection and compassion for the Thai people. As the revered leader and only monarch that most Thais have ever known, His Majesty was a tireless champion of his country's development and demonstrated unflagging devotion to improving the standard of living of the Thai people. With a creative spirit and a drive for innovation, he pioneered new technologies that have rightfully received worldwide acclaim."

I believe that the technologies referred to were mostly to do with land drainage and the supply of electricity - subjects which fascinated the king in his younger days and you may see images in the YouTube clip associated with these very practical concerns.


  1. On a news bulletin a few hours ago I heard about his passing. Strangely, I don't recall hearing or reading much, if anything, about the King before this.

    1. He lived in a hospital for the last decade of his life. Even so, any visitor to Thailand could not fail to have noticed the king's significance... like Buddha, benignly watching over his people.

  2. The King Song brings back memories. Also the taxi ride from Bangkok airport when I asked who the woman was on the many posters. "Ah, that is Mrs King," came the reply.

    A year of mourning seems a tad excessive though.

  3. It was on Germany's main TV news last night, too. Although I am sure this man was genuine in everything he did for his country, I am always a bit puzzled (and find it slightly scary) when confronted with such personal cult. To rever their ruler like a god is something the old Egyptians did, and most other ancient civilizations. Some Russians are not far off, either.
    Here in Germany, we (as a country) have extremely bad experience with person cult. Maybe that's what makes me so wary of it.

    1. In Thailand some of the reverence towards Buddha easily migrates to the king so that sometimes they seem indistinguishable.

  4. The future may well be 'interesting'. I hope not.

    1. The heir to the Thai throne possesses very few of the qualities that his father exhibited.

  5. "No visit to a cinema in  Thailand is complete without a rendition of "The King's Song" and when the associated images appear on screen you must stand to attention or risk arrest."
    Makes you wonder how much real affection there was for the king and how feared any protest might have been ??

    1. Visitors to Thailand are advised not to ask any questions about Thai royalty. My observation was that he was genuinely loved...making the trials of everyday life easier to bear. Look at the masses of ordinary people gathering in Bangkok as I write.


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