It is one first observations a new visitor makes in Thailand: Massive portraits of the King from most of the light poles all over the country, across bridges, on billboards. Framed portraits of the monarch grace almost every Thai home and in every business, even in the taxi. “God Save the King” is written in huge letters on buildings, airports and ships. It is everywhere in Thailand: demonstrations of the great affection the people have for the King, the Royal Family and historical dynasty.
Thailand has identified with the monarchy for well over 700 years, and the bond between the people themselves and the Royal family is deeply rooted in the history of the nation. The King is the Soul of the Nation. But it is also the person of the King himself and the great things he has done for Thailand that has earned this King immense love and great respect universally throughout the nation.
The King of Thailand is referred to as King Bhumibol Adulyadej, but his full name is a bit longer: Phrabat Somdej Phra Paramindra Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitaladhibet Ramadhibodi Chakrinarubodindara Sayamindaradhiraj Boromanatbophit. The King is also referred to as Rama IX because he is the ninth monarch of the illustrious Chakri Dynasty.
The King was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and is the first Thai King to have been born in America with the full rights given to those that are born in the US. His father, Prince Mahidol of Songkla, was at the time of the King’s birth a student at Harvard Medical School, and the King’s first home in 1927 was a modest apartment in Cambridge.
The King is currently the longest-reigning monarch in the World, with over sixty-five years on the throne, and has been a great inspiration for the Thai people. He began his reign on 9 June 1946. His foremost interest is the welfare of the people of Thailand, and it shows. He has initiated more than 4,000 Royal Development Projects in such areas as irrigation, farming, drought and flood alleviation, crop substitution, and public health. The King is the People’s Advocate, rising above the harsh politics that have plagued Thailand during his time of the throne.
The King is an Inventor. He has personally invented various tools and techniques for rural development, and he is the World’s only monarch to be a patent holder (several patents in “rain making” techniques and tools).
According to the Guinness Book of World Records 1998, the King of Thailand has been awarded more honorary academic degrees than anyone else in the world, a grand total of 136!
The King of Thailand is a Jazz Musician and plays the piano, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, and cornet. He plays soprano saxophone the best, and has played with many of the world’s most famous Jazz musicians such as Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Lionel Hampton, and Stan Getz. His Majesty is a composer and has composed 46 beautiful and eternal songs such as Love at Sundown, Falling Rain, and Near Dawn, which are loved both in Thailand and abroad. His first song, Saeng Thian (Candlelight Blues), was composed in April 1946.
The King of Thailand is also a painter, photographer and best-selling author and translator. His translated works are “Tito” (The biography of Josip Broz Tito, former Yugoslavia president, by Phyllis Auty) and “Nai In Phu Pid Tong Laang Phra” (The Man called Intrepid by William Stephenson). The King has authored national best-seller “Phra Mahachanok” which is based on a traditional Jataka story of Buddhist scripture. “The story of Thong Daeng” is the story of his dog Khun Thong Daeng.
Every Monday, many of the people in Thailand wear Yellow Shirts. Yellow was originally for the Moon God, and is now the color representing King Bhumibol. Monday morning when you see Thai people commuting on the Bangkok Sky Train, or crowds going into the financial centers of the City, there is a sea of Yellow. On Tuesday this repeats with workers wearing Pink for the Mars god, and it being the color representing HM Queen Sirikit (the Queen of Thailand).
It is striking to the Western visitor seeing the huge showing of affection that is given to their King, much more than in any other country on Earth. So it is important for any Western visitor to Thailand or expat taking residency in the Kingdom to understand fully about the deep seated admiration and affection for the Royal Family, and to always show strong respect for the King. For instance, in a movie theater, the national anthem is played before the movie starts with pictures or film on the screen showing the King. Everyone is expected to stand and show reverence, even non-Thais. The same holds true at many events, and sometimes on special market days. Watch the crowd and do what they do. If a tourist from another country does not stop and stand and show respect, there could be uncomfortable results for the visitor.
Anything that has the likeness of the King must be respected. Many Americans (including me) sometimes just stuff money crinkled up into my front pants pocket, and then sort of straighten it out when needed to buy something. In Thailand, the King’s picture in on all money, so it should be treated respectfully. Keep money in the wallet in good condition, and never throw it on the floor or crinkle it up or any other disrespectful handling. If you drop a coin, don’t stomp on it with your foot to stop it!
Father of Love – Video
Lot’s of other great videos and information, including Thai traditional music and dancing, and World Music Festivals at the performers website Lavelle Entertainment. Highly Recommended – great stuff!
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