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CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Prince Bhumibol at the age of two (1929); at the age of 11 in Luksue Nam uniform

while in Bangkok (1938); as a young boy in Switzerland (1939); with the Princess Mother and his brother, King Ananda; at the
age of one with his father, Prince Mahidol (1929).

From Baby Songkla' to the world's longest-reigning monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej has provided leadership, inspiration, comfort and wisdom to not just Thais but
people around the world for six decades. His Majesty's vision and compassion are boundless,
as is the love and respect his subjects have for His Majesty.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Family portrait on the third birthday of Prince Ananda (1928) ; King Ananda's abode, Villa Vadhana
Mansion, in Lausanne, Switzerland ; at the age of three in Bangkok with Princess Galyani Vadhana ; summer in Switzerland.

It was a chilly Monday morning, December 5, 1927, when 27-year-old Mom Sangwan Mahidol gave birth to a
baby boy at 8:45 am. The place was Cambridge Hospital (now Mt Auburn Hospital), in the US state of
Massachusetts; the proud father was 35-year-old HRH Prince Mahidol of Songkhla.
On duty that morning was Dr W. Steward Whittemore, who would remember the Siamese boy he delivered.
He was a very good baby, indeed, the doctor recalled to the Boston Globe in 1960. His mother was a
wonderful patient. She never complained. Little did the good doctor know that "Baby Songkla, as he was
recorded on his birth certificate, would 18 years later become a king let alone the world's longest living
monarch 60 years after his accession to the throne.
Without pomp or ceremony, the birth of the future great king was an occasion of joy within his family of five,
who lived in a modest apartment on 63 Longwood Avenue, Brookline in Boston. Three hours later, Prince
Mahidol telegrammed his mother, Queen Savang Vadhana, to inform her of the birth of his second son. He
asked if King Rama VII would bestow him with a name.
Nine days later, a telegram from Thailand arrived stating that King Rama VII had given Baby Songkla the
name Bhumibala Aduladeja (later changed to "Bhumibol Adulyadej"), meaning "Strength of the Land with
Incomparable Power".
At home, Baby Prince Bhumibol was welcomed by his elder sister, Princess Galyani Vadhana, 6, who was
born in London, and older brother Prince Ananda, 2, born in Heidelberg, Germany.
On the year of Prince Bhumibol's birth, there was nothing to suggest that within a short five years an
unprecedented political upheaval in Siam would totally change the course of the Chakri Dynasty and
ultimately the lives of the Mahidol family. For at that time the country was securely administered under an
absolute monarchy by King Rama VII, whose grandfather, King Mongkut (1851-1868); father, King
Chulalongkorn (1868-1910); and brother, King Vajiravudh (1910-1925), had resisted the threat of Western
colonialism with their articulate foreign diplomacy.
In fact, Siam was the only country within the region, from the China Sea in the East to the Indian Ocean in
the West, to survive the onslaught of the colonial era that stripped neighbouring countries of their

Spending his winter holiday in a mountainous resort at Arosa Kulm Hotel, in Arosa, Switzerland

Though himself one of the heirs-apparent, Prince Mahidol, King Rama VII's half-brother, did not seem to
expect that one day the mantle of kingship would be shifted to his family. Thus he decided to pursue an
education in a field where he thought he would most benefit the country and its people: health care.
Aspiring to be a doctor, the prince abandoned a navy education in Germany for the United States to pursue a
public health degree at Harvard University.
At his side was a commoner from humble origins, the former Sangwan Talapat, whom he married in 1920.
While her husband studied at Harvard University, the then Mom Sangwan pursued a degree in nursing and
economics at Simmons College. In 1950, the Simmons College Review published local recollections of Prince
Mahidol and Mrs Songkhla: Bostonians were often impressed when they saw this pretty girl in Oriental
costume shopping with a basket over her arm in the grocery stores at Coolidge Corner. Despite their great
wealth, the Songkhlas lived in a modest kitchenette apartment at 329 Longwood Avenue. Prince Mahidol
was an intern at the Boston Lying-in Hospital, where he scrubbed floors and rushed out on ambulance calls.
He would come home in the afternoon from Harvard Medical School to help his wife with the cooking and
the care of their two sons, who eventually were to become kings. One year after the birth of his third child,
Prince Mahidol, now armed with medical knowledge, brought his family back to Bangkok, enthusiastic about
starting a new life as a doctor at Siriraj Hospital .
But much to his disappointment, the Prince soon realized that his royal status as a celestial prince would not
allow him to pursue this line of service. Determined to use the knowledge he had gained in order to help
those in need, Prince Mahidol decided to leave his family behind and work as a resident at McCormick
Hospital, an American missionary hospital in Chiang Mai. The hard-working, selfeffacing prince took care of
needy patients at all hours of the day and night, and even, according to records, donated his own royal blood.


Afflicted with severe kidney disease, the selfless Prince ignored his own ill health. Four months after moving
to Chiang Mai, he came to Bangkok for a funeral, planning to take his family with him on his return to the
North. He never made it back.
Four months later, in September 1929, the Prince succumbed to his illness, leaving a huge void not only in
the local field of medicine but also in the hearts of his wife and their three little children. His youngest son,
Prince Bhumibol, was barely two years of age.
On that tragic morning, HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana recounted in two books Mae Lao Hai Fang
(Mother Told Me) and Chao Nai Lek Lek, Yuwa Kasat (Minor Royalties, Young Kings): I was playing in
front of the palace building, stomping heavily on the road's edge, when I was summoned to see my mother.
She was sitting on a long bench by the window in her dressing room. She pulled me into her embrace, said
something that I could not recall, and cried. I cried too, but only due to the shock of seeing my mother
sobbing. Both of my brothers were unaware of what had happened. Perhaps, mother might have thought
that they were too young to understand. For one year, we were in mourning. Despite their huge loss, life
went on for the Mahidol family. The Princess Mother sent the children to school Prince Bhumibol to
kindergarten at Mater Dei, Prince Ananda to Dhepsirin, and Princess Galyani to Rajini.

While the young Mahidol children were exploring their childhoods, clouds of political turmoil began to take
shape. The Great Depression that gripped the USA in early 1930 spread throughout the world, and
Thailand's economy plunged to an unprecedented low.
The economic downturn sent public morale tumbling, which in turn fuelled resentment of the absolute
monarchy among a group of young, foreigneducated Thais. Hoping to change the nation into a democracy,
the group clandestinely plotted a coup d'etat.
On the morning of June 24, 1932, soldiers successfully took control of Bangkok while King Rama VII was
vacationing at Klai Kangwol Palace in Hua Hin. Himself democratically minded, King Prachadhipok had
intended to ease the nation towards democracy once he felt the time was right. With his hand forced, the
King decided not to resist the premature transition in order to spare the country from useless bloodshed.
Unfortunately, the relationship between the King and the new government was a strained one. As tensions
continued to grow and the relationship fractured beyond repair, rumours spread of an abdication.
The young Prince Ananda's name was often mentioned as heir apparent, to the surprise of many.
As HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana explained in Chaonai Lek Lek, Yuwa Kasat , Prince Ananda became the
first in line to the throne as a result of the Law of Succession, which was issued in 1924 by King Vajiravudh.
The law stipulates that heirs must be direct descendants of the King and the Queen, disqualifying anyone
who suffers from psychological problems; is not Buddhist; is married to a foreigner; has had their heir status
revoked; or has been disqualified from the line of accession. Princess Galyani wrote: Amid rumour of the
king's abdication, perhaps someone had rushed to study the Law of Succession.
One day Prince Ananda came home from school telling mother that his friends called him 'Ong Poey'.
Mother immediately realized the hidden meaning of this, Number Eight' in Chinese [Rama VIII]. But she
did not explain this to the young prince. Out of concern for her grandson's fragile health and potential
political involvement, Queen Savang Vadhana decreed that the Mahidol children should pursue their

education abroad. The decision came down to weather: Switzerland was the first choice over second-place
In 1933, when Prince Bhumibol was five and a half years of age, the Mahidol family settled in a tiny flat at No
16 Tissot Road, a 15-minute walk to the central city of Lausanne, Switzerland. They all enrolled at the Ecole
Miremont primary school.
It was here in this modest apartment where the Mahidol children enjoyed their childhood as ordinary kids.
Despite their distance, trouble followed them from home. As rumours of the King's abdication turned out to
be true, newshounds in Europe frantically combed Swiss schools to find the young Siamese heir to the
throne, at first without success.
Eventually they caught up with him. In an excerpt of a letter from the Princess Mother to Queen Savang
Vadhana that was printed in Chaonai Lek Lek, Yuwa Kasat , the Princess Mother explained why she finally
had to give in to the press: Initially, I refused but finally had to give in when they pointed out that they
would be able to capture photos of Nandha [the prince's shortened name] on his way home, anyway. But,
they said, they would prefer being granted permission.
On the eve of King Rama VII's abdication in February 1934, the government sent its representatives to
approach the minor prince through the Princess Mother, acting as his guardian. The Princess Mother
declined to respond, saying that the crucial decision should be left to Queen Savang and the King (Rama
VII). However, the Princess Mother told them that the young prince's health was fragile and illsuited for
tropical weather, and that his doctor recommended he stay in Switzerland.

CLOCKWISE, FROM BOTTOM LEFT: In boy scout uniform, left, with his brother, Prince Ananda. HM King Ananda upon
his arrival at Bangkok's Don Muang Airport in December 1945. King Ananda, HRH the Princess Mother and Prince Bhumibol
in Bangkok 1946. King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol skiing in Switzerland. With his pet dog 'Muen' in Bangkok.
CENTRE: As a student in Switzerland.

On March 2, 1934, King Rama VII abdicated in London, England, where he spent the rest of his life in exile
until his death in 1941.
After the abdication, the Thai parliament unanimously agreed to invite Prince Ananda to the throne
following the Law of Succession. Upon Queen Savang Vadhana's blessing, Prince Ananda was named King
Rama VIII. He was just nine years old.
In the book Chaonai Lek Lek, Yuwa Kasat , Princess Galyani recounted King Bhumibol's 1987 recollections
of this momentous period of his brother's accession to the throne: "The king [then 7] remembered that he
felt nothing special.
No particular excitement. What he recalled, however, was how he and King Ananda were amused by the
'pompous' manner of those [government representatives] who were granted an audience with the young
king. While the government's representatives agreed that the new king should stay in Switzerland, they
tried to convince the Princess Mother that the king should be provided with special tuition at home, and that
he should live in a grand atmosphere full of pomp and ceremony worthy of his status.
The Princess Mother flatly rejected both suggestions.
He and his siblings, she insisted, would be raised incognito, as ordinary kids in ordinary schools in an
unpretentious environment.
In a note to Queen Savang Vadhana describing her conversation with government representatives, the
Princess Mother wrote: At first, Chao Phya Sri [government representative] suggested that the king should
stop going to school. Tutors should be provided at home. I promptly said that I thought otherwise. In private
tuition at home without friends and peer competition, the king would suffer from a lack of enthusiasm and
feel isolated. Having to shoulder the mantle of kingship, the king would be unhappy if deprived of his
childhood.... It is quite necessary for a king to mix and mingle with ordinary people to learn about their
habits. By doing so, it would benefit the country, which is under a democratic system. Together, King
Ananda and Prince Bhumibol were enrolled into a new, private school, Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande,
where they learned Latin, French, German, English and Spanish as well as gardening and carpentry. At
home, they attended a Thai class, where they studied the language as well as Thai history and Buddhism.
While King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol received wellrounded education and participated in activities to
broaden their perspectives, thus making them fit to be king and, inadvertently, a king-to-be, the Princess
Mother stressed that they were to be treated as normal kids.
Even though they moved out of their tiny apartment into the more spacious, three-storey Villa Vadhana in
Pully, outside Lausanne , the royal family lived in only moderate luxury, as insisted upon by the Princess
Mother. Indulgence to the king or his siblings was discouraged except for special occasions such as birthdays
or the new year.
Just like other boys in the neighbourhood, King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol had errands to run and chores
to do such as picking up fruit in the backyard or sweeping snow off the road. They were also encouraged to
earn extra money by picking apples and pears in nearby fruit orchards.

With only two years separating them, King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol developed a profound bond, which
Princess Galyani Vadhana described as something quite extraordinary. They were like twins, she wrote,
buddies, who are fond of one another more than they are of other friends.
They would prefer to play together more than anyone else. Four years after his accession to the throne, King
Ananda, in 1938, returned to Thailand as its sovereign for the first time at the age of 13. Walking one step
behind him was his bespectacled younger brother and heir apparent, Prince Bhumibol. His royal title was
Somdej Phrachao Nongyather Chaofah Bhumibol Adulyadej but he became affectionately known as
Chaofah Waen (the Bespectacled Prince) by the public.
Albeit short, King Ananda's 59-day homecoming visit invigorated the country. His 18 million subjects had
yearned for the presence of their young monarch. Traditional ceremonies, which had abruptly ceased after
King Rama VII's abdication, were restored with pomp and pageantry.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Family picture on the second birthday of Prince Bhumibol. With the Princess Mother, in Bangkok, 1938.
The athletic Prince Bhumibol rowing a boat one summer in Switzerland.


As a child, Prince Bhumibol had been described as a precocious and animated boy, talkative and witty. A
darling of the family, the young prince was barely 10 when he started wearing glasses for short-sightedness
after his teacher noticed him having to approach the blackboard to take notes.
Even at a very young age, Prince Bhumibol demonstrated his remarkable talents, which ranged from sports
to music, science and technology, carpentry and art.
His knack for sports was shown at the tender age of eight as he agilely glided down mountain slopes during
his first ski lesson in 1935. Later in life, he adopted several other active games such as badminton and water
sports, and excelled at all of them.
But it was technology Prince Bhumibol demonstrated a special aptitude for especially mechanics and
electricity at a very young age.
Normally, mother would not allow anyone to indulge her children with gifts unless it was a special occasion
such as a birthday or the new year, Princess Galyani wrote.

One day, mother saw Phra Anucha [Prince Bhumibol's new title as the king's younger brother] playing with
a new toy car. Upon learning that Nan [the family's nanny] gave it to him, she asked why. Nan said it was a
reward for fixing her sewing machine.... Another example that stood out in Princess Galyani's memory
occurred when, at the age of 10, the King transformed metal coils into a radio. "He won the coils as a prize in
a raffle at school. Upon receiving the prize, he asked an expert how to build a radio. He was told to acquire
black ore (galena or galenite or PbS) which is a crucial material for making a receiver for radio waves, and an
earpiece. The whole thing cost about 10 francs. It was unclear how he pieced them together, but eventually
his invention was able to receive radio signals. The brothers shared the earphones and took turns listening to
the radio.
Upon our return to Switzerland from Thailand, the king was presented with a Philips radio. At first the two
brothers, who shared the same bedroom, also shared the radio. Later, when the king moved to a new
bedroom, he left the radio behind for his brother, who connected the radio to a loudspeaker and broadcast
the radio programmes into the king's bedroom." One of Prince Bhumibol's childhood activities was to build a
dam in a stream near their summer school on Les Pleiades mountain. It wasn't simply for fun, but also a
learning experience, wrote Princess Galyani.

Studio picture of the nine-year-old King Ananda and seven-year-old Prince Bhumibol
in Switzerland, 1934

When the Princess interviewed His Majesty the King in 1986, he vividly recalled the way the school directed
the water into the students' pool by building a clay slope path, smoothing them with glass bottles.
The Princess also recalled Club Patapoum, which King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol had established.
The idea was adapted from comic books in which the main children's characters would gather to form a club.
King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol, then 12 and 10, adopted the idea and named their club Patapoum.
The club had had plenty of committees and members, albeit existing under in name only. It was the two
brothers, who alternately took different administrative positions and their deputies under odd pseudonyms.
These odd aliases would be used just between the two of them.
For Prince Bhumibol, these included: Raoul, Gontran and Le Gommeux.

Apart from his aliases, Phra Anucha (Prince Bhumibol) also named his future kids as: Fkou for the first
child; Deliz for the second; and Fkou-Deliz for the third. So that when he called Fkou-Deliz, all three would
show up. It was in their bedroom's empty closet where the two royalty held club meetings to discuss
crucial decisions such as how the club's money would be well spent.
From bedroom closet, their playing activities sometimes extended to the kitchen, where the two royaly
experimented with cooking. Princess Galyani wrote: they used to cook together preparing mignons de
veau on a toy stove. Butter was hand-beaten from cream. They even helped Nan to prepare peanut butter.
However, the most favourite dish of King Rama IX was his own culinary creation called kai pra athit' (the
sun's egg). It was an omelette garnished with grains of crispy-brown cooked rice resembling dark spots on
the sun. Beyond the fun and games, it was music that the two young brothers enjoyed together from their
childhood into their adolescence. Princess Galyani wrote: King Rama VIII started piano lessons after he saw
me learning it. King Rama IX opted for accordion.
But he took only a few classes before calling it quits, since it didn't go well with piano'. Eventually, King
Rama VIII stopped piano too.
One day as he (King Ananda) was inspired by an orchestra playing in a hotel, he acquired a second hand
saxophone at a price of 300 francs. Mother chipped in for half of its price, Club Patapoum supported the
other half. When an instructor showed up at home, instead of attending the class, King Rama VIII pushed
his brother into the room to replace him.
"Thus, it was King Rama IX, who first started.
After 2-3 courses, King Rama VIII bought his own clarinet. The instructor split the class into 30-minute
sections to instruct each of them.
After the class, the instructor would bring out his own saxophone prompting a trio. For six months, they
played together in the same manner. Then Phra Anucha (King Rama IX) had to attend boarding school. Yet,
he continued his class by biking from school to his instructor's studio. During those two years at boarding
school, he bought a clarinet for 200 francs. King Rama VIII bought an old sax while some of his friends
taught him more on piano.
They even built their own instruments, such as a drum from planks of wood and thick paper and a bass from
a wooden crate and rope. Eventually, both royals developed their passion for jazz, which spread from the
United States into Europe in the 1940s. King Rama VIII preferred Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet
albums, while King Rama IX would go for Duke Ellington and Count Basie. For jazz albums, they had to
spend their own money, but for classical they could get reimbursed, wrote the Princess.


King Ananda after his accession to the throne in 1934 with his family.

It was on December 5, 1945, the 18th birthday of Prince Bhumibol, that both King Ananda and the prince
made their second home-coming visit to Thailand after the end of WWII.
Although they had been away for seven years, King Ananda, then 20 and Prince Bhumibol, 18, received an
overwhelming welcome from the public, who showed their unwavering loyalty to their king by turning up in
full force along every street the king and his brother passed. For six months, the king and Prince Bhumibol
rigorously performed royal duties, presiding over ceremonies as well as visiting people upcountry.
What was originally planned as a one-month trip was extended to six months during which King Ananda's
popularity soared as the king charmed his subjects with his unpretentious characteristics.
In its Feb 15, 1946 issue, The Suparb Burud Prachamitr newspaper reported: (The King) favoured a simple
way of living without pomp and ceremony as if he were an ordinary person. He would address himself as
I and with a krub' (sir) to anyone he granted an audience to. Yet, tragedy struck the glowingly popular
young king, just a few days before his scheduled return to Switzerland to resume his education. King Rama
VIII was found dead with a bullet hole in his forehead on the morning of June 9, 1946 at Boromphimarn
On the same day, heir-apparent Prince Bhumibol was named his successor as King Rama IX. His formal
title: Phrabath Somdej Phra Paramindara Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitarathibej Ramathibodi
Chakrinaruebej Sayammindhrathiraj Boromnartborpit.


Two and a half months after the mysterious death of his brother, King Bhumibol returned to Switzerland for
his education at Lausanne University. But instead of pursuing sciences as he initially planned, the King
switched his education to law and political science in preparation for his new role as the Siamese monarch.
On October 4, 1948, the King had a car accident while he was driving on the main Geneva-Lausanne
highway. The Associated Press quoted police in its report of Oct 9, 1948, that the King was driving a
midgetsize automobile toward Geneva when "a truck ahead of him stopped suddenly to avoid two cyclists

and the royal car crashed into the rear. For three months, the King was hospitalized to recover from the car
crash that affected his right eye.
While in hospital, the King received a vivacious visitor whose acquaintance he had previously made, Mom
Rajawong Sirikit Kitiyakara, daughter of His Highness Prince Chandaburi Suranath (Mom Chao Nakkhatra
Mangala Kitiyakara), Royal Siamese Ambassador to Paris, and Mom Luang Bua Kitiyakara.
As their romance grew, the King asked for the hand of MR Sirikit and they became engaged on July 19, 1949.
Upon his journey back to Bangkok in early 1950, the King was occupied with three significant missions: a
royal funeral ceremony for King Ananda, his marriage to M.R. Sirikit and his own coronation. The royal
funeral was held on March 29, 1950. One month afterward, he married his 17-year-old fiancee in a ceremony
presided over by Queen Savang Vadhana, at Sra Pathum Palace. The royal newlyweds enjoyed their
honeymoon at Klai Kangwol Palace in Hua Hin.
On May 5, 1950, a grand coronation ceremony was held for King Bhumibol with pomp, ceremony and
pageantry. Soon after the coronation, His Majesty the King together with Her Majesty the Queen returned to
Switzerland to further his education.
Their permanent return to Bangkok came on December 2, 1951. With them was their eight-monthold firstborn child, HRH Princess Ubol Ratana, born on April 5, 1951.
Their second child, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, was born on July 28, 1952; their third child,
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on April 2, 1955, and their fourth, HRH Princess Chulabhorn on
June 4, 1957.

ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: Studio photo of Prince Mahidol and Miss Sangwan Talapat on their marriage in 1920. Official
birth certificate number 3173 by City of Cambridge, Massachusetts for the birth of Bhumibol Aduldej Songkla, at Cambridge

Hospital on December 5, 1927. One-year-old Prince Bhumibol on board the Kashimamaru with his father, Prince Mahidol of
Songkhla, December 1928. As a primary student in Ecole Miremont school in Switzerland. Family picture upon their trip back
to Bangkok in 1938.

ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol on their return to Thailand in 1945. HM King Bhumibol and
Mom Rajawong Sirikit Kitiyakara. HM the King on his coronation day. Their majesties with their four children.


For six decades, His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej has inspired, entertained and encouraged the Thai people in
countless ways. One of these is through music, and His Majestys songs, ranging from jazz to classical to patriotic anthems, have
been performed not just in Thailand but internationally by some of the worlds leading musicians and orchestras

On Saturday nights, a group of some 10 professional and

amateur musicians, most in their 60s and 70s, gather together at
Klai Kangwol Palace by Hua Hin beach for a jazz rendezvous.
These well-seasoned musicians take their time to find their
seats, with instruments in hand, lips to the mouthpiece, fingers
to the keys, until the band leader looks up, Ready?
Suddenly, as if rejuvenated by the spell of the music, the grayhaired band members come alive with youthful exuberance,
adroitly creating sounds as fresh as musicians in their prime.
On the saxophone is none other than 78-year-old HM King
Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Until the wee hours of Sunday morning, the King and his Au Sau
Wan Suk Band members fill the sultry air of Hua Hin with
smooth jazz from a wide selection of styles Dixieland, New
Orleans, Big Band chart-toppers sometimes with an interlude
of one of the Kings own compositions.
His Majesty and HRH Crown Prince Maha

Until his retirement from public performance some two decades Vajiralongkorn perform a saxophone duet.
ago, the King had awed Thai audiences with cool jazz, then novel
to Thai society, in a weekly radio broadcast of concerts from university and public stages that ran from the
early 1950s through to the 1970s.
As if a king blowing his sax for the joy of his subjects isnt remarkable enough, His Majesty also made
Thailand internationally famous for his role as a highly-recognized musician, particularly in the jazz world.
His name has been listed in jazz websites and jazz encyclopedias, from the esteemed Vienna music academy
in Austria to the coveted Yale music school in the US.
Marking the 60th anniversary this year of his first musical composition, the prolific King has produced 48
outstanding pieces ranging from romance to march to ballet suites, in classic, blues, jazz, pop and alma
maters. Many of them have become all-time classics including Saeng Tien (Candlelight Blues) Sai Fon
(Falling Rain) and Porn Phi Mai (New Years Greeting), to name a few. And not only in Thailand, some fine
selections of his compositions have reverberated across the globe in prestigious concert halls and informal
settings alike as his songs have been included in the albums of some leading jazz musicians and prestigious
international orchestras.
To glorify His Majestys musical talent isnt flattery. For, from my professional point of view, the Kings
musical talent is genuine, says a close aide to His Majesty the King, himself a distinguished musician who
wishes to maintain anonymity, He is quite extraordinary as a composer and remarkable as a musician.
An articulate composer, the self-taught King has developed music-writing skills and become accomplished in
this craft. In his early teenage years in Switzerland, he took private saxophone lessons. The rest jazz music
and song composition was self-taught through reading and grueling practice. The technique he has
developed in music writing is so comprehensive that he could excel in it by producing outstanding works of
music. He composes music with a complexity of notes simultaneous with chords, and yet maintains all the
requirements of musics rules. This is a process that only a few song writers could achieve, says his aide.

His Majestys compositions, he goes on, are diversi- fied in style and mood. When His Majesty creates a
romantic song, it is truly sweet and romantic. But when he produces a march, it is filled with all the bold
elements required for this martial style. And both achieve a distinct beauty.
Nevertheless, what he sees beyond HM the Kings gifts is his unwavering determination. When the King
intends to do anything, he would work hard until he achieves. The same is true in his determination to
acquire musical skills, he says.
This is evident with his mastery of skills that, sometimes, outdoes professional foreign musicians during
their jam sessions.
The musician recalls a visit by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans some years back. The

LEFT TO RIGHT: In the late 1940s, HM the King, who is self-taught, composed music while a student in Lausanne,

Several of HM the King's compositions reflect his love and passion for his vivacious queen.
In the early 1960s, His Majesty established the Au Sau Radio Station. He is seen here tuning the transmitter at the station.
Jamming with US jazz idols Benny Goodman (clarinet),Gene Krupa (drums) and Urbie Green (trombone).
HM the King was the first Asian composer to receive membership in Die Akademic fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst (The
Institute of Music and Arts of the city of Vienna).

session soared to the

height of its thrilling
mood so much so
that one trumpeter
impulsively strode
down the bandstand
blowing his trumpet.
Simultaneously, he
heard another
trumpet blazing
down from the stand.
He almost threw his
own trumpet away
with amazement as
the crisp sound from
the stand was so
powerful and so
distinctive. It was His
Majesty the King who
blew it.
Once, a young
clarinetist was
impressed by His
tremendous power in
performance despite
his age, and asked his
advice in fingering
techniques to attain
highpitched tones
that he could not
achieve. His Majesty
pointed to his lips
saying that it was the
strength of the lip
muscles, not the
fingers, he recalls.


For over a decade,

His Majesty has
inspired the public
as well as university
students with his
cool jazz in live
performances with
Au Sau Wan Suk
His Majesty the
King performs
outdoors in rural
Thailand in the late
1950s. Among those
enjoying the music
is Her Majesty the
Queen, far left.
His Majesty took the
clarinet and
jammed with the
Dixieland Jazz Band
during a reception
hosted for him in
Hawaii in 1960.
His Majesty the
King and the King
of Rock n Roll,
Elvis Presley,
during His Majesty's
visit to the US in
Echo is among the
few songs written by
HM the King with
English lyrics.

Unlike singers, whose

voices may falter with age, outstanding musicians mostly can maintain their performance if they
continuously rehearse. His Majesty, he further explains, is dexterous with all wind instruments and excels in
all. While in session, he would start with saxophone, switch to clarinet, trumpet and sometimes trombone.
Not so many musicians could switch from woodwind to brass, since they require different techniques and
skills. The woodwinds use reeds to make sound, while a brass instrument such as a trumpet doesnt. Brass
instruments use the lips in place of the reeds. The only famous jazz musician who is adroit in both
instruments that I know of is the late Benny Carter, he elaborates.

Over several decades, the Kings Au Sau Wan Suk Band has received such international jazz idols as Benny
Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Jack Teagarden, James Moody, Benny Carter, Les Brown, Maynard Ferguson,
The Preservative Hall Jazz Band, and many more as guest musicians for impromptu sessions.
It is here with these idols that one can observe the King at his very best. Unlike when he plays with his house
band, whose members are mostly amateurs, His Majesty would master his jazz supremacy with all the
techniques he has acquired to match with these visitors.
His Majestys first encounter with an international jazz idol occurred in 1960 during his state visit to the
United States. His two jam sessions with Benny Goodman in New York were reported in Time in its June 18,
1960, edition:
His Majesty went to dinner with the King of Swing, Benny Goodman, (and 94 others) at the suburban estate
of New Yorks Governor Nelson Rockefeller. For 90 minutes after dinner, King Bhumibol and Benny led a
foot-stomping, starch-melting jam session. Next day, the King toted a sax up to the 22nd story roof garden
above Bennys Manhattan House apartment for the fulfillment of a jazzmans dream.... The King stood them
toe-to-toe for two hours, paid his royal respects to The Shiek of Araby (in 17 eardrumming choruses),
savoured Honeysuckle Rose, swung low On the Sunny Side of the Street.
In the article The King of Jazz, by Harry Rolnick, published in Sawasdee magazine in 1987, American
singer Patti Page described her audience with the King: It was like a dream come true. I had heard about his
compositions, but only when I had them in my hands did I see how fine they were....
For two hours, Rolnick reported, she sang the works of His Majesty, with her personal accompanist, while
the King made changes when necessary.
The late jazz icon Lionel Hampton was also quoted in the same article as saying: He is simply the coolest
king in the land.
Recently, the world of jazz has literally recognized the King by putting his name in one of the recent editions
of the Encyclopedia of Jazz that came out some four years ago, his close aide says: If you flip to the B index,
you will find his name and a short description of his works. He is the only Thai musician to earn such an
Back in 1964, he recalls, when HM the King visited Vienna, Austria, for a state visit, he attended a concert
where five of his finest pieces, Kinari Suite, Sai Fon, Yam Yen, the Royal Marines March and the Royal
Guards March, were performed. Not only was the audience in the concert hall appreciative of HM the Kings
compositions but also music lovers across Austria, as the concert was broadcast live on radio.
After the concert, His Majesty received overwhelming accolades with a long standing ovation as the
composer. Two days after the concert, he was conferred with the 23rd honourary membership of the worldrenowned Die Akademic fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst (The Institute of Music and Arts of the city of
Vienna). He was the first Asian composer to receive such an honour.
As a school boy in Switzerland, His Majesty received early training in classical music. But saxophone lessons,
which later became HM the Kings most favourite instrument, occurred by chance. In the book, Chaonai Lek
Lek, Yuwa Kasat, by HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, the Princess recalled that it was King Ananda who
bought a secondhand saxophone for 300 Swiss Francs and intended to take lessons. At the last minute, he
changed his mind and sent his younger brother, Prince Bhumibol to the class in his place.

Eventually, King Ananda joined the class with his clarinet. The one-hour, twice-weekly classes with Alsace
musician Mr Weybrecht were split into two half-hour classes to accommodate King Ananda on clarinet. For
two years the classes continued and often ended with an hour-long trio session with Mr Weybrecht and King
Ananda on clarinet and Prince Bhumibol on saxophone.
Despite their classical music training, both King Ananda and Prince Bhumibol were more inspired by the
exciting beats of blues and jazz, containing rousing rhythms and freedom of expression. The teenage royals
started collecting gramophone recordings of jazz icons with King Ananda preferring Louis Armstrong and
Sidney Bechet,

Blowing his trumpet over Rangsit Canal in Ayudhaya.

while Prince Bhumibol opted for Duke Ellington and Count Basie. King Bhumibol practiced his instruments
to the strains of blues and jazz from these recordings. He played along with recordings of Sidney Bechets
soprano saxophone, Johny Hodges alto saxophone and Duke Ellingtons piano.
His Majestys favourite instruments are the saxophone, clarinet and trumpet. He also plays guitar and piano.

It was during 1946, when the then18-year-old Prince Bhumibol visited
Bangkok, accompanying King Ananda, that his potential in music writing
was taken seriously.
Encouraged by King Ananda, the aspiring prince started composing
where his heart was the blues. He wrote fragments of scores and
showed them to HH Prince Chakrabandhu Bensiri Chakrabandhu,
himself a musician, who, in turn, asked the young prince to complete the
compositions and offered help with lyric composition.
In April 1946, his first composition was accomplished. It was named
Saeng Tien (Candlelight Blues). Soon afterwards, his second
composition, Yam Yen (Love at Sundown), rolled out, again with the help
of Prince Chakrabandhu on the lyrics. By the time Prince Bhumibol tried
his third piece, he smoothed the scores out almost effortlessly within a
single day. Sai Fon(Falling Rain) was its name.
Over a span of five decades, the King has created 48 musical numbers.
Out of them, five include lyrics and melody by the King himself: Echo,
Still on My Mind, Old- Fashioned Melody, No Moon and Dream Island.
Two of his compositions were created from lyrics about patriotism: Kwan Fun An Soong Sud (1971) and Rao
Su (1976).
Selecting music for his Au Sau Radio
audience in the mid-1950s.

Having excellent ears for music and a quick wit, HM the King is admired for his ability to compose a song on
the spur of the moment, without any assistance of a musical instrument. Sometimes, we got music scores on
a piece of scrap paper or an envelope with bars and notes on it. When the King was inspired, he would write
the melody out of what he heard in his head. Later on, the melody would then be completed with a piano,
the close aide says.
How His Majesty composed the song Rak (Love, 1995) was quite extraordinary, he adds. His Majesty blew
his sax while reciting the lyrics. His close aide would write down the notes from what he blew. After
finishing, he asked for the rough notes to be completed, after which the arrangement was done.
Alexandra, a song to welcome Princess Alexandra, was written in a similar prompt fashion, upon the visit of
the princess in 1959. In The King of Jazz, the late former prime minister and musician MR Seni Pramoj
recalled the princess's visit: I remember when we were waiting for Princess Alexandra to arrive. About 20
minutes before the plane landed, His Majesty came over to me with a sheet of music. He had written a
welcoming song for Princess Alexandra and he expected me to write a poem to go with the music! Of
course with royal command like that, I had no choice but to write it.
In similar impromptu fashion, Porn Phi Mai (New Years Greeting) was swiftly composed on New Years Eve,
1951. Wishing to bless his subjects with a song, His Majesty together with Prince Chakrabandhu took turns
to alternately compose the melody with a saxophone until its completion that evening. The song became an
instant hit and has been played during New Year celebrations for over 50 years.
From his early trio sessions in his Alsace teachers studio in Switzerland, both King Ananda and the then
Prince Bhumibol often took pleasure in musical companionship. During their visit to Thailand in 1946, King

Ananda and Prince Bhumibol invited some amateur musicians for casual weekend sessions.
After King Bhumibol ascended the throne and subsequently returned to Switzerland, he continued the
pastime by inviting Thai students to join music gatherings both in Switzerland and in Paris.
Upon his return to Thailand for a permanent stay in 1950, he initiated a jazz band and named it Lai
Khram. The band members included M.L. Vimvathit Rabibadhana, M.C. Waewchakra Chakrabandhu, M.L.
Dej Snidvongse, M.C. Kamolsarn Jumbala, M.C. Chumpokbutr Jumbala, M.L. Udom Snidvongse, M.R.
Pong-amorn Kridakara, M.R. Seni Pramoj, Surathern Bunnag and M.L. Praphand Snidvongse. The bands
regular singers included M.C. Murathapisek Sonakul and M.C. Kajornchobkitikuna Kitiyakara.
In 1952, His Majesty established a radio station within the Amporn Satharn Palace and named it after the
initials of the palace as Au Sau Amporn Satharn Radio Station. Through broadcasting, the dynamic Lai
Khram band thrilled its radio audiences with vibrant selections of jazz numbers. It performed along with
several bands including the Kaset band under the supervision of HH Prince Chakrabandhu Bensiri
Eventually the Lai Khram band members grew in number. To accommodate them all, His Majesty expanded
the band and called it Au Sau Wan Suk (Friday Au Sau). A special characteristic of the band was that His
Majesty would join in on its live broadcasts every Friday evening. His Majesty would select music as well as
recordings for the programme and encouraged call-in requests. Occasionally, it was His Majesty himself who
personally took the calls.
On weekends, the band members would convene at Klai Kangwol Palace for private musical sessions with
the King. The fun-filled event sometimes lasted till sunrise as band members marched down the beach with
their instruments in the crisp morning breeze to greet the day with their jazz.
Past and present members of the band have included M.R. Seni Pramoj, M.L. Praphand Snidvongse, Uthis
Dinakara na Ayudhaya, M.L. Seri Pramoj, M.L. Usni Pramoj, Manrat Srikranond, Dej Thiewthong, Thavorn
Yaovakhan, Suvit Ungsavanond, Nondha Buranasomphop, Kavee Angsawanond, Apichitr Sukchand, Uab
Hemaratchata, Santhad Tanthanand, Aniruth Thinnakorn na Ayudhaya and Dr Phathorn Srikranond.
Singers have included Khunying Savitri Srivisarnvaja, Khunying Chamari Snidvongse na Ayudhaya, Khun
Kanda Thammamongkhol, Thanpuying Suvaree Dhepakam and Pallop Suwannamalik.
During the early period of its establishment, the band ventured beyond the radio station and palace
boundaries into the public, especially in universities. Apart from playing music for generations of university
students, His Majesty also composed alma maters for Chulalongkorn, Thammasat and Kasetsart
Eventually, the Au Sau Wan Suk band gradually faded out of public performance owing to His Majestys
increasing engagements in rural development projects.
But the bands jazz spirit is still alive and well. Our band is still going strong playing regularly with the
King, says Rear Admiral ML Usni Pramoj, a privy councilor and band member. His Majestys arduous
tasks have been so overwhelming that we wish the music would help in releasing his stress. For everyone has
to have a way to relax. And music is one of the best. We are so honoured to have the chance to serve him.
Not only did His Majesty become an inspiration for professional musicians, but a mentor for those amateurs
working in different fields. In 1986 His Majesty gathered those working with him in several rural
development projects, including agriculturists, volunteer doctors, court of- ficials, aides and security officers
to form a brass band, naming it Sahai Pattana (Development Friends). Instead of exercising as routinely

scheduled, His Majesty sacrificed his evening hours to train the brass band members, with Her Royal
Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn first on the list.
A maestro in his own right, the septuagenarian King has been lauded for his role not only as a great king but
also a great musician. His splendid music legacy has left its mark on numerous albums both locally and
Jack Teagarden asked royal permission to include a royal composition on his album. So did the Les Brown
Big Band, which asked for six compositions, as well as the Claude Bolling Big Band from France and Ted
Peace, says his close aide.
Already, a committee has been set up to screen requests for public performance and recordings of the Kings
compositions. In the past, there were those who inadvertently adapted or changed the Kings compositions,
which is inappropriate, says the musician. They should respect that anyone who composes does not wish to
have their pieces rewritten. The committee, therefore, is set to screen and approve requests.
Although the Kings latest composition, his 48th, called Menu Kai (Egg Menu) came out in 1995, he believes
that it would not be the last. I think the King is still working on his compositions. And more will be coming
out to the public.
By Hua Hin beach on Saturday nights, the indomitable music maestro still serenades his modest audience.
The strains of his sax have echoed throughout the country, entertaining millions of his subjects, from the
past to the present, who have heard and appreciated their Kings compassion through his music.
As one of his English-language compositions, Echo, goes:
Of it is nothing left
But the echo
Though time is unforgiving
I know
Our love will
Linger on
For eternity

On September 12, 1962, at the Thai Embassy in Australia, many Thais turned up to greet His Majesty the King. His Majesty
allowed them to stand around him, and then His Majesty used a camera with a wide-angle "fish eye" lens to take
photographs.His Majesty placed the camera on the table to take this photograph. Both His Majesty's hands are visible, due to

the wide lens. Apart from being artistic, this photograph also captured His Majesty's intention of holding all the people in his

From painting, photography and sculpture to sailboat design and construction, His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej has demonstrated exceptional talent as an artist and has made a significant contribution to society
as patron and promoter of the arts

While being the subject of all

cameras surrounding him,
His Majesty has
captured various rare
pictures from the King's

In addition to being a keen

sportsman, His Majesty is
also a skilled
designer and craftsman.

A self-taught artist, His Majesty

expresses art in vibrant colours
and bold brush strokes.

TOP LEFT: This black and white photo of the then MR Si
was taken by His
Majesty the King on April 20, 1950, eight days before the
were married and 15 days before the King was officially

At Klaikangwol Palace, Hua Hin, HM the King saw his re

swimming pool and was intrigued by the pictorial oppor
Grabbing a slender palm for balance, His Majesty leaned
and took several pictures.

At Wat Sai Thong, Ruso District, Narathiwat in Septemb

Majesty the Queen was
taking notes of the villagers plight, and it was getting da
took a photograph of Her Majesty without a flash, using
ISO 1,600 film.

This photo of Her Majesty the Queen mbracing Princess

her bosom was taken by His Majesty the King for his ow

The then Prince Bhumibol often acted as a royal photog

several historical pictures of King Ananda during his re
King Ananda is shown addressing a crowd in Samut Pra


At Chitralada Villa, Dusit Palace, Her Majesty the Queen
winter attire, while posing in a joyful mood for His Maje
photograph "Winter Time" portrays a peaceful atmosph


Looking at His Majesty the Kings childhood photo collection, one cannot help but be affectionately
mesmerized by them.
Not only have the photos captured our beloved King and his family in candid, animated moments but also
serialized every bit of his progress and activities from a baby prince to a precocious young royal to a
solemn teenage King.
Obviously, what these photos have reflected beyond cherished family pictures is the photographic keenness
of those behind the camera. And they were none other than Their Royal Highnesses Prince Mahidol of
Songkhla and the Princess Mother especially the Princess Mother, who solely took over family
photographer role after the untimely decease of Prince Mahidol.
As a nursing student at Siriraj Hospital, the Princess Mother was fond of photography a passion that she
continued to develop while she was studying in the US in 1918 with her first camera, a Brownie Box by
Eastman Kodak Her interest in photography later developed into home cinematography as she became a
member of an amateur cinematographer association whose royal chairman was King Rama VII.
Growing up with cameras pointed at him, it is not surprising that His Majesty himself aspired to be a
photographer, and at the age of eight he owned his first camera, a Coronet Midget, bought for him by his
The little princes first experimentation with photography produced unsatisfactory results. His Majesty
reminisced about an incident to HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana in the book Chaonai Lek Lek Yuwa Kasat
that five out of six frames were completely spoilt. And the only good shot was taken by somebody else.
Far from being disheartened by the first failure, His Majesty continued to develop his skills by obtaining tips
and techniques from photo experts until eventually he became an excellent photographer.
Several decades before the era of the automatic and then the digital camera, His Majesty, like all pros, took
full control of the camera, which operated manually. With the 135, 120, and special film formats, he used
ordinary cameras without exposure metres. By calculating and setting the cameras for proper exposure, he
became so proficient that, at even to this day with all the technical advances, he still takes photographs with
ordinary cameras.
At the age of 13, His Majesty, as Prince Bhumibol, accompanied King Ananda in 1941 and again five years
later, recorded several historical shots of King Ananda. Among these are the rare pictorials of King Ananda
speaking to a crowd at Pak Nam, Samut Prakarn Province, using an antique carbon-microphone
to address to the crowd.
His collection of photographs of mural paintings at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha during this period
further demonstrate his thorough understanding of phototographic composition, lighting, and other
HH Prince Chakrabandhu Bensiri Chakrabandhu once recalled the Kings visit to a camera shop in
On the first day of his visit, he bought one camera from the shop. A few weeks later, he returned to the shop
and asked the shop-attendant several questions. The shop attendant seemed to be baffled. He summoned

another attendant to answer the Kings complex, technical questions. He, too, was unable to answer. The
third person, who was an expert, was called to provide His Majesty with proper advice. In the end, His
Majesty decided to buy several lenses and other equipment.
At this time when photographic technology was advancing slowly, innovative photographers such as the King
developed their own techniques to reach their full potential.
His Majesty created his own special filter, which was partly blue and partly orange in colour. The result was a
series of amazing photographs that appeared in natural colours in the centre with enhanced blue skies and
warm foreground tones. His Majesty's artistic photography was outstanding as he explored new techniques
and unconventional photo angles. His Majesty also developed his skill in photo development and
enlargement. He installed a dark room on the ground floor of the Radio Au Sau Building in the palace. The
dark room was equipped to develop both black and white and colour photographs.
In an excerpt from a book on the Kings photography written by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, she
writes: I watched His Majesty taking pictures and saw his photographs in photo albums in which he
personally serialized each shot with a number. At first, he did it all by himself. Later on, he taught the royal
guards to set them into the album.
In these albums, there are all sorts of pictures such as family photos and those of his children from very
young ages until they were grown up. For myself, he said, it was very difficult to capture my photo since I
was quite naughty and moved around a lot.
Apart from that, there are interesting photos such as those of royal ceremonies, the mural paintings at the
Temple of the Emerald Buddha, scenic pictures, and of sights and scenes His Majesty saw during his various
rural trips.
They include pictures of each place, the people, and its magnificent natural surroundings. In His Majestys
photographic development, these are crucial elements. Some, for example, illustrate the potential at a
geographical site to build a dam or a reservoir, or a road. Sometimes these photographs are horizontal, taken
on a flat plane or of a birds-eye view from a helicopter. These pictorial documents were eventually used for
royal initiatives in rural development.
Occasionally, once a development project was completed, His Majesty would take photograph of the
officials in charge of the project showing their accomplishments.
Several pictures of His Majesty reflect his wisdom as well as his captivating philosophy. Each of the pictures
displays different technique. His Majestys proficiency in photography was well-known, and he was invited
to be in a judging committee for a photo contest.
For Thais, one of the most familiar scenes of His Majesty is one of him with a camera hanging around his
neck and a pencil and a map in his hands. The camera was not limited to artistic photography but was also
an efficient tool for the King in his efforts to solve the countrys complex problems, from poverty to the
environment to drought and flood.
With the Kings photographs being dispatched to offi- cials involved, the remedial actions in various areas
were timely and correctly implemented.
Yet, there is another photographer role His Majesty assumed in his early years of his accession to the throne
that a lot of people do not know about; that was as a press photographer. HH Prince Prem Purachatra asked
for and received royal permission to publish some of His Majesty's photographs in his magazine, Standard.

Referring to his media role, His Majesty once mentioned his 100 baht monthly income as the magazines
photographer. I never got a raise, he teased.
Despite his lack of formal art training, His Majesty the King has won appreciation from art connoisseurs as
well as art professionals for his works that excel beyond amateurism.
Albeit brief, His Majestys period of artistic creativity that stretched between 1959 and 1967 was a productive
one. He produced over 60 paintings and sculpturesmostly expressionist, abstract, and impressionist
during this period.
Each of His Majestys paintings is an unmistakable re- flection of his strengths. All are portraits.
Nevertheless, the outlined profiles are not mean to be realistic representations of the models, but a
framework for the artist to express his inner feelings on the canvas," explains renowned artist Uab Sanasen.
Even though each line flows freely according to the artist's mood, the form on the painting still leaves traces
of whose portrait it is. For example, the oil painting Paint at Phuping obviously portrays Her Majesty the
Queen, while Un-name shows six portraits, apparently His Majesty, the Queen, and their children.
Bold in the application of colour and forceful in brush strokes, His Majestys paintings seem to have been
spontaneously created without hesitation. And yet, they dont muddle, says Uab. Apparently, they were
executed with decisiveness and within a short period of time.
Such spontaneous expression, Uab says, demonstrates His Majestys personality. It shows that he is a man


While following his father on a rural visit during the monsoon season, HRH Crown Prince
Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was young then, slipped and fell several times on a muddy and
slippery track.
As the crowd in New Zealand was cheering to great their royal visitor in August 1959, His
Majesty captured that moment on film from the limousine .
The four right hands signify a sense of brotherly unity.
A cat in sunglasses reflects HM the King's sense of humour.

Her Majesty the
Queen sits for His
Majesty the King as he
paints her portrait.
In this portrait of
HRH Prince Mahidol,
HM the King made
good use of highlights
and shadows.
An oil painting of Her
Majesty the Queen
from 1963.
'Double Personality'
oil on canvas mounted
on wood.
One of HM the King's
many 'Untitled'
abstract oil paintings,
this one from 1963.

strong willpower and resoluteness the characteristics of those who are at the top management level.
Although His Majesty's interest in arts started at a young
age, when he lived in Switzerland from 1937-1945, he started painting later.
In HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana's book Chaonai Lek Lek, Yuwa Kasat, His Majesty the King explains how
he got started painting. It was in 1946, he reminisced, when he accompanied King Ananda to Thailand for a
royal visit. A full painting set including brushes, paints, and canvases was presented to the Princess Mother.
As the Princess Mother showed little interest in picking up a brush, His Majesty decided to give it a try,
completing several oil paintings, some of which were auctioned for charity together with His Majestys
photographs and handmade model ships and planes.
However, it was some time 13 years before His Majesty seriously pursued his passion for oil painting.
A self-taught artist, His Majesty began by exploring technique and drawing inspiration from art books he
bought or was given by the worlds leading artists. These were books he bought for himself or was given as
gifts. Later, His Majesty sought advice from several Thai artists whose works appealed to him. By visiting
their studios to discuss their technique, His Majesty's perception of art gradually progressed. Eventually, His
Majestys art developmentreached its maturity as His Majesty expressed himself on the canvas with a style
and technique distinctly his own.
Among his art advisors was Mr. Bhiriya Krairishka, who had the chance to study with leading Austrian
expressionist Oskar Kokoschka. He worked very closely with the King. Thus, several of his works on display
at the National Art Exhibition were expressionist, says Uab, who was also one of the Kings art advisors.
Other advisors included such celebrated artists as Hem Vejakorn, Kien Yimsiri, Chamras Kietkong, Fua
Haripitak, Paitoon Muangsomboon, Chuladhat Bayakaranondha, and Chalerm Nakhirak.

Executing his art in realistic, expressionistic and abstract approaches, His Majesty once explained that he
consciously avoided allowing other people's works to influence his own. Like any self-taught, amateur artist,
His Majesty enjoyed a lot of freedom and imagination, and he was able to express himself with his brush
strokes without restraints (do you think it should be 'restraints by theoretical principles and rule' rather than
'like'?) like theoretical principles and rules.
Using both daylight and artificial light, His Majesty usually painted in the evening and at night, asking Her
Majesty the Queen and their children to be his sitting models. Most of the paintings in his collection are
portraits of Her Majesty the Queen.
Among his outstanding works include two notable pieces. One is of a portrait of his father, His Royal
Highness Prince Mahidol, which exudes gentleness and makes good use of highlights and shadows. Another
is of an old woman, Untitled, 11-6-07, which is executed with strong brush strokes.
"His Majesty the King first painted portraits which were realistic and finely executed. He then proceeded to
modern expression and developed new techniques in order to express his thoughts without worrying about
realism, which would restrict freedom of expression, wrote M.C. Karawic Chakrabandhu in the book
Supreme Artist.
His Majesty is a true artist in the sense that he enjoys other people's works, yet is never satisfied with his
own. He is always searching for new techniques, yet his paintings always exude originality. While he is
working on purely abstracts subjects, he is still able to paint other aesthetically pleasing subjects even though
they might be against his wishes at the time.
As an artist, His Majesty fully expresses his thoughts and feelings, which are sincere and forceful. He uses
bright colours and mainly strong curving lines but also, on occasion, straight and zigzagging lines."
His Majestys paintings were kept in his private collection until 1963, when he granted permission to exhibit
a few of them at the 14th National Art Exhibition. Subsequently, his works were included in this annual
event in following years.
To recognize his artistic talent, Silpakorn University, in 1965, presented him with an Honorary Doctorate in
In April 1982, on the occasion of Bangkok's Bicentennial Celebration, the Fine Arts Department was granted
permission to exhibit 47 out of some 60 paintings by His Majesty at the National Gallery. It was a
momentous occasion, as it was the first single exhibition of a monarch's paintings in history.
During this period, His Majesty also extended his interest in art to sculpture, as he learned modeling, mould
making and casting techniques.
A leading sculptor, Paitun Muangsomboon, who had been working for His Majesty for a number of years,
recounts His Majesty's sculpture activities in Supreme Artist: "His Majesty was interested and is conversant
in all aspects of sculpture, from modelling to casting techniques. His Majesty had studied from books on the
subject of sculpture and wanted to experience it for himself."
Two of his outstanding sculptures now adorning Chitralada Mansion of the Dusit Palace are a kneeling
woman 9 inches high modelled in plasticine and a bust of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, which is approximately
12 inches high, also in plasticine.


'Red Hand', oil on canvas,

'Untitled', oil on

'Untitled', oil on canvas.

His Majesty's hobby during his teen years in Switzerland was
building model warships out of wood.

His Majesty has designed several models of dinghies which are

agile in Thai water and practical for Thai sailors.

'Untitled' oil on

'Untitled', oil
on canvas,

After each dinghy was designed and built, His Majesty would
try it on in the sea.

BELOW LEFT: Not only a skilled craftsman, His Majesty is also

a master in sailing. He won a gold medal in the 1967 Sea Games
together with his sailing partner, HRH Princess Ubolratana.

His Majesty in his designed Micromod

Apart from these sculptures, His Majesty initiated the making of the second series of seated Buddha statues
in the Royal Cypher and amulets. The two Buddha statues are 9 inches high and 5 inches wide at the knees.
His Majesty also practiced a technique of sculpture casting using the larger Buddha statue in the Royal
Cypher as a model.
In January 1966, His Majesty cast another Buddha statue in the attitude of Subduing Mara" that was 9

inches wide measured at the knees. He decorated the plain base with lotus petals in such a way that to
accommodate one of the amulets mentioned above.
A series of bronze castings were made from this prototype. He then affixed an amulet to each of these
statues. His Majesty had intended to make 100 statues and to enshrine one in each and every province in the
Kingdom. He named this Buddha statue the "Buddha Navarajbopitr".
Since the amulet contains His Majesty's personal effects, the "Buddha Navarajbopitr" may be regarded as
one of the most important amulets created during his reign.
For the generation who had a chance to witness that historical moment when His Majesty the King won a
gold medal together with HRH Princess Ubolratana for sailing in the Fourth South East Asian Peninsular
Games in December 1967, they could attest to the overwhelming jubilation and pride the country had over
the royal victory.
Yet, very few knew that the dinghy that agilely carried His Majesty and the Princess to the finish line in that
International OK Class sailing tournament was actually designed and built by the King himself.
As a matter of fact, several of the sailing boats that have been entered in international tournaments in
Thailand in the past decades are the brainchild of His Majesty the King, and the legendary the Mod dinghy
was patented in the UK under his name.
An adept sailor and an adroit carpenter, His Majesty crafted sailing boats which were perfect for Thai sailors
and travelled fast over local seas. Of his sailing boats, His Majesty chose to fashion dinghies of International
Enterprise Class, International OK Class, International Moth Class, and a hybrid out of his own creativity
named Mok.
Reflecting on His Majestys upbringing, it is not surprising that the King would one day be inspired to build
sailing boats of his own design. As a child, His Majesty was encouraged by HRH the Princess Mother to use
his imagination and creativity to make toys of his own instead of buying them. In the spirit of joyful
enthusiasm, His Majesty made several toys out of old wire clothes hangers. As he mastered carpentry, he
built ships out of wood scraps with sails sewn from bits of cloth.
As His Majestys craftsmanship skills became further honed, he crafted elaborate wooden replicas of war
ships and airplanes at a time when toys replicas of this kind were not yet commercially available.
On a visit to Thailand in 1946, the then Prince Bhumibol, accompanying King Ananda, auctioned off replicas
of his Thai warship, Ayudhaya, and a model airplane for 20,000 baht and 10,000 baht respectively.
Once on the throne, the sailing enthusiast King, then in his 30s, worked on a prototype sailing vessel that
had its first test run in the pond of Chitralada Palace.
In 1964, after much trial and error, His Majesty perfected a prototype model of an International Enterprise
Class sailing boat that met all international specifications. He named his first sailing boat "Rajptan".
In 1965, His Majesty sailed the Rajptan against the Duke of Edinburgh in a race from Pattaya to Koh Larn.
Construction of the second> boat of the same class, named 'A.G.', started the very same day of the race. In
the following year His Majesty produced a series of dinghies in the International OK Class named Navaruek,
Veca 1, Veca 2, and Veca 3.

The most outstanding series of Kings dinghies are those of the Moth
Class. Named the Mod", "Super Mod and Micro Mod, they are
innovative in design, inexpensive to build, and most importantly,
The Moth Class specifications limit overall length to 11 feet and a
maximum sail area of 75 square feet. The width, shape and height of
the mast are not restricted nor are construction materials. This allowed His Majesty a great of freedom to
create a truly innovative design.
The "Mod", the first of the Moth Class series, has proven its durability. With length of 11 feet, and a 4-foot
seven inch beam, the singlemast dinghy's compact size is well suited to Thai sailors and is relatively
inexpensive to build. Its light weight makes it portable, readily stored, and easily maintained. With 72 square
feet of sail area, the boat is fast and agile in the water. His Majesty registered the design of the "Mod" at the
Patent Office in Great Britain.
His Majesty's "Mod" design soon evolved into a newer version called. "Super Mod". The length and sail area
were unchanged, but the beam increased slightly to 4 feet 11 inches. Weighing 35 kilograms, the flat-bottom
dingy is stable, sturdy and fast.
Superior performance and affordability have made the "Super Mod" a favored choice for international sailing
events. The design was chosen for the 4th South East Asian Peninsular Games in 1967 and again for the 13th
South East Asian Games in 1985.
His Majestys final design in the Moth Class series is the "Micro Mod". At 7-feet-9-inches long and sporting a
3-foot-4 inch beam, the dinghy is designed to make sailing accessible to children and Thai sailors of smaller
In 1967, His Majesty combined the OK Class with the Moth Class design to produce a hybrid of his own
creation. Calling it "Mok", His Majesty designed the boats hull to be a little wider than that of Super Mod,
but employed the mast, sail and other fittings of OK Class vessels. Mok became
His Majesty's final masterpiece. He abandoned boat building soon after to devote his time and energy the
cause of rural economic development. His Majestys dinghies continue to be admired for their elegant,
simple and accessible designs. All the materials needed in construction are obtainable in Thailand, and are
therefore affordable.
In an effort to further promote sport sailing amongst the Thai people, His Majesty gave permission to Royal
Thai Navy Sailing Club to manufacture and to sell the "Mod" and "Super Mod". The "Royal Chitralada Yacht
Squadron," was also established by the King to encourage sailing among the public.
Although His Majesty competed only once in 1967, he has often been seen sailing his dinghy in the Gulf of
The King once traversed the gulf from Hua Hin to Sattahip covering 60 nautical miles during a grueling 14hour
To recognize His Majestys contribution to sports, December 16, _the day the King won the gold medal in the
South East Asian Games, was declared National Sports Day.

Through raising the standard of health care and promoting education, His Majesty the King
has helped the Thai people to live happy, healthy, and prosperous lives

CLOCKWISE, FROM MAIN PICTURE: During a visit to a self-help community in the southern province of Narathiwat in 1985, HM the King
encourages a handicapped boy to walk. The boy later received treatment as a royal patient. Their Majesties the King and Queens extensive travels
to rural areas revealed a lack of adequate public health services and educational infrastructure in more remote areas of the country. A wounded
soldier in Chiang Rai province receives a medal from His Majesty during the Kings visit to a field hospital in the North in December 1971. HM the
King often visited soldiers and police wounded in combat during the height of the communist insurgency. PHOTOS BY ROYAL COURTESY

HM the King
maintains a
constant interest in
the development of
Thai medical
science and is
always ready to
assist in its
When visiting
remote rural areas,
His Majesty would
take along a mobile
medical unit for
the benefit of poor
HM the King
personally hands
out necessities to a
hilltribe man
during a visit to
Mai Mok Cham
village in Mae Ai
district of Chiang
Mai in January
HM the King
questions officials
about the
condition of a
crippled villager
during a visit to
Ban Nong Pla Duk
in Sakon Nakhon
province in
November 1989.
HM placed the
villager under his
royal patronage.
HM the King is
briefed on the
condition of a child
being treated at the
Hospital in
February 1968.
During a visit to a
Thai Red Cross
unit in Hua Hin in
May 1972, Their
Majesties the King
and Queen,
accompanied by
Their Royal
Princess Maha
Chakri Sirindhorn
and Princess
Chulabhorn, listen

to a border patrol
policeman explain
how he was
wounded in a mine

Born into a family of medical professionals, health and medicine had always been prominent in His Majesty
King Bhumibol Adulyadejs childhood. His father, HRH Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, was a pioneering
doctor who dedicated his life to the plight of the rural poor. He initiated numerous healthcare programmes
that brought medical care to the far reaches of the provinces, where modern medicine had previously been
unheard of.
His mother, the late Princess Mother, was a trained nurse who tenaciously supported her husbands causes.
After the death of Prince Mahidol, she continued to carry out his work and started numerous public health
Growing up against a backdrop of dedication and service to public health, it comes as no surprise that His
Majesty the King has followed in the footsteps of his parents and is an ardent advocate of health and medical
concerns. While His Majesty, in recent years, is seen as being more active in areas such as rural
development, water conservation and the environment, he has remained a compassionate champion of
issues related to health and medicine since the end of World War II.
At that time, state-run medical facilities in the provinces were scarce and under-developed. During His
Majestys frequent visits to rural areas, he would come across sick, malnourished people or those suffering
from malaria who were desperate for medical attention and did not know where to get help, says Magsaysay
Award recipient Dr Prawase Wasi.
Since then His Majesty has traveled with a team of doctors and nurses to treat those who come to him with
their illness. When he meets someone with a serious disease, he will write down their names before sending
them off to the hospital. Hes been doing this for years. It gives people great hope to see him. Its a cause that
has stayed close to the Kings heart, says Dr Prawase.
His Majestys actions prompted a fundamental change in the attitude of healthcare authorities, says Dr
Prawase. In the past the attitude and practice was that the ill had to go to hospital for treatment. By taking
mobile medical teams with him wherever he went, His Majesty changed this attitude. Medical professionals
saw that they had to go out to the sick and not wait for them to come to the hospital. This led directly to
changes in the structure of the healthcare delivery structure by the Public Health Ministry.
[Doctors and health care officials] began to realise that medical treatment and public health care had to be
distributed because that was the only way it could reach the people. They realised volunteers, health workers
and nurses should play a role in this. This was the groundwork for what is now called basic healthcare work.
I think that the King played a great role here in changing attitudes. And he did it without giving orders but by
setting an example.
Apart from the official attitude to healthcare, His Majesty was also instrumental in encouraging villagers to
care for themselves, first by adopting basic preventive healthcare measures rather than waiting until they fell
ill. Wherever he went, His Majesty would advise rural residents on how they could take care of themselves.
Apart from being instrumental in changing attitudes and actively assisting national health programmes, His
Majesty has played a direct role in assisting the eradication of several diseases that were widespread in the

country. After the Second World War, former public health minister Dr Sem Pringpuangkaew explains, the
countrys most dreaded disease was tuberculosis.
The state did not know how to contain the disease because at that time there werent any sanitoriums to
house those infected. The King, however, took a personal interest and set up the Anti-Tuberculosis Society to
help prevent the disease from spreading, he recalls.
With a personal donation to the Red Cross Science Division, the Mahidol Wongsanusorn building was
constructed in 1950 to produce BCG vaccines. UNICEF later bought the vaccines for use in other Asian
His Majesty was also instrumental in eradicating leprosy. Dr Sawasdi Daengsawang, then the director
general of Public Health, was one of the first to turn to His Majesty when the disease became rampant in the
mid-1950s. I asked the King for help because at the time leprosy was spreading so quickly that in some
cases in the Northeast, entire villages were becoming infected.
In 1955 leprosy was everywhere in the streets, says Khwankeo Vajarodaya, Grand Chamberlain of the
Royal Household Bureau. The Public Health Ministry had a plan to bring it under control in 12 years, but
the King wanted it tackled much faster. A doctor told him that it could be done in eight years if there was an
institution to train more professionals. So His Majesty set up the Rajaprajasamasai Foundation which also
served as a research and development centre.
His foundation is directly responsible for dramatically bringing down the incidence of leprosy, says Mr
Dr Vichai Chokevivat, Deputy Director-General of the Communicable Disease Control Department, agrees
that His Majesty played a significant role in eliminating polio from Thailand. Apart from private donations
to set up the Polio Welfare Fund and building the Vajiralongkorn Tarabambat building at the King Mongkut
Hospital, he spearheaded the drive to raise funds for vaccines. His Majesty used his volunteer radio to call on
Thais for donations to buy equipment to help those stricken with polio.
The country responded. Mr Khwankeo notes that it was His Majesty who initiated the use of Jacuzzis to treat
the disease and donated equipment to Siriraj Hospital.
Polio was later eliminated from Thailand. It reappeared in the 1990s following the influx of Cambodian
refugees 10 years earlier. Dr Vichai says that a campaign launched to inoculate all Thai children against polio
proved highly effective: Only one child was reported to have contracted the disease. The campaign continued
for three years until polio was eliminated from the country once again. We have to recognise that we have
reached this stage because His Majesty the King took an interest in the well-being of his subjects, the doctor
Since 1946, His Majesty has injected millions of baht of personal funds to assist numerous national
healthcare programmes. The Thai Red Cross has been a primary bene- ficiary of HMs support, especially in
its work producing vaccines and serums. In 1952 His Majesty set up a blood service centre which developed
into the National Blood Service Centre in 1969.
At present the centre has branches throughout the country, saving thousands of lives each year. It produces
saline drip for sale, while blood is distributed free of charge.
His Majesty has expanded the work of the Red Cross to cover the whole country. His Majesty has assisted in
providing funding for research on diseases relating to hormones, bones and joints, the nervous system and
the blood. He has set up a fund for medical research, a foundation to promote cleanliness and health among

schoolchildren, and a vocational centre for soldiers and border patrol policemen who have been disabled
while protecting the country.
In addition to His Majesty the Kings commitment to addressing current and future healthcare needs is his
belief in funding the future development of Thai medical professionals.
There must be continuous training of people who are skilled and experienced in public health care, says Dr
The late Princess Mother saw the importance of this and used personal funds to send many Thais to study
medicine overseas. Dr Klum Vacharobol, Dr Sri Sirising, Dr Sawadi Sadaengsawang, Dr Luang Nit
Vechavisit, and many other doctors who have become teachers of the medical profession were among
recipients of the Princess Mothers support. These people went on to play a crucial role in laying the
foundation of medical and public health work in Thailand.
His Majesty continued to support his mothers work by establishing the Ananda Mahidol Fund to send
doctors to further their education overseas. Dr Charas Suwanvela, former president of Chulalongkorn
University, was the first recipient. Later the fund became a foundation and is now open to public donations.
His Majesty allocates a considerable amount of time to the foundation, acting as its honorary chairman and
paying great attention to its financing. Students under this foundation would be granted an audience with
HM the King, during which they would be given invaluable advice before going overseas. On their return
they would be granted another audience in which His Majesty would ask about what they had learnt. His
Majesty would on occasion spend hours talking with them.
As a healthcare advocate, His Majesty the Kings contributions remain immeasurable, and build upon the
pioneering work of his late father and mother. Perhaps the best way to describe His Majestys attitude
towards health care would be to use his own words. During a visit to a tuberculosis treatment centre on April
6, 1950, HM said to then Health Minister Luang Payung Vejchasart, Is there a medicine that can cure this
disease? If you lack any medicine I will find it for you. I want to see Thai medicine progress.

Good physical health is a vital factor in supporting the economic progress and social security of the country
because it leads to good mental health. Physical and mental fitness enable the individual to effectively serve the
nation while refraining from imposing burdens upon it. That means we should support, not delay the development
of the country.

As a student in
Switzerland, His
Majesty came to realise
the value of education.
His Majesty the King
gives a lesson to
students of Wang
Klaikangwol School as
shown on the
Suksathat (Quest for
Rural students line up
to receive school
supplies and uniforms
from His Majesty the
students were taught by
His Majesty the King to
be morallyupright,
compassionate, kindhearted, self-sufficient,
and self-reliant.

When His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne in June 1946, Thailand had barely
recovered from the effects of World War II which had ended just one year earlier.
Our educational system had been in disarray like never before, former education minister ML Pin Malakul
in his report, His Majesty the King and Education.
Schooling was interrupted as people fled the war to seek refuge somewhere else. A large number of school
buildings were devastated by the bombs of the occupying army. Gone with them was a huge amount of
educational equipment and teaching materials. Worse yet, teachers were forced to find other jobs in order to
After the war, he writes, massive renovations were urgently needed. Yet, budgets were minimal. Many
older, mostly wooden school buildings were destroyed by major flooding that occurred during the war
As a result of the war, academic standards plummeted and most students failed to complete school due to
poor attendance. Some classes graduated to the following grade level without the required knowledge.
Sixty years later, Thailand is now recognised as one of the leading academic hubs in Asia. From an abysmal
50 per cent literacy rate in the mid-1940s, now over 95 per cent of Thailands 63 million citizens can read
and write.
The major achievements of the past six decades could not have been realized were it not for major
contributions by His Majesty the King. The poor, the handicapped, those of minority ethnic groups, the
young and the old the King has made certain that each be provided with access to education, as long as
they have the will to learn.
Over half a century His Majestys vision has helped to build the solid foundation necessary for the continued
economic and social development of the nation.
In his reign, His Majesty has built large numbers of schools throughout the country, especially in remote
areas. He has granted scholarships to students with excellent academic records, as well as those who are
poor, orphaned, and< handicapped. He called for the publication of the Thai Junior Encyclopaedia which
promotes self-directed learning.
In areas with teacher shortages, hundreds of thousands of students in remote schools learn their lessons
together with pupils in the Kings private school, Wang Klaikangwol, under the Distance Learning via
Satellite programme. The King also established the Phra Dabos project to promote vocational education for
those without the necessary preparation to enter the traditional educational system.
One of the most challenging times came early in His Majestys reign. Thailand was besieged by communist
insurgents. Border regions and the more remote areas were plagued with insurgent attacks. For most
children of school age living in these isolated communities, schooling was but a distant dream. There were
no schools to attend and no teachers to staff them.
His Majestys frequent visits to these areas beginning in the early 1960s made a huge difference in the lives
of many youngsters.
The number of primary schools increased noticeably, especially the remote Border Patrol Police schools. At

a time when even education inspectors found it tough to visit these far-flung schools, none other than Their
Majesties the King and Queen and HRH the Princess Mother were frequent visitors. Their visits served to
promote education in isolated parts of the country and their contributions of educational equipment, clothes
and food encouraged parents to commit to keeping their children in school, recounts ML Pin.
Between 1963 and 1974, His Majesty built nine schools for children in remote hilltribe villages. Thirty-one
more were built under royal initiatives for the children of offi- cials and employees of the Forestry
Department. The Navaruek Foundation, established by His Majesty the King, supports needy primary and
secondary school students. Using personal funds, His Majesty initiated construction of temple schools, run
by monks to cater for poor children and orphans. The initiative was motivated by the belief that the bond
between disadvantaged children and religion could be strengthened within the school setting.
His Majesty did not overlook children belonging to marginalized groups. Special schools were established to
serve the children of parents infected with leprosy.
Other schools were established to serve physically handicapped and developmentally delayed children.
In 1962, Cyclone Harriet hit 12 southern provinces. One small seaside village in Nakhon Si Thammarat,
Laem Talumpuk, was particularly hard-hit. Over a thousand people perished in the storm. Houses, farms,
temples, and schools were swept away. Those who survived were left destitute. Many children were
His Majesty, using Au Sau radio, invited the public to donate money to help the victims. Through his
Making Merit with the King campaign, the radio station raised more than 11 million baht. Part of the fund
went to assist deprived orphans whose parents died in the catastrophe. The rest was set aside and used to
establish the Rajaprajanugroh Foundation in 1963.
The foundation established primary schools in the cyclone-affected areas offering orphaned students both
room and board. As more donations flowed in, the foundation eventually extended its mission to help poor
and disadvantaged children in other areas of the country.
For instance, Rajaprajanugroh School 33, in Lop Buri province, accommodates orphans of Aids victims,
while the Rajaprajanugroh School in Pang Mapha, Pai, and Mae La Noi districts of Mae Hong Son province
serve hilltribe children. Others offer education, room, and board for children of Aids-afflicted parents.
When the tsunami hit six southern provinces in December 2004, children again suffered. Many lost their
parents, friends and teachers, and saw their entire communities vanish within a matter of minutes. The
Rajaprajanugroh Foundation was among the very first organisations to provide help. Last year, the
foundation built four new schools in Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi and Ranong covering 1,200 needy children in
Like many remote schools across the country, the Rajaprajanugroh schools suffered from a severe shortage
of teachers. In far-flung rural schools, the ratio of teachers to students stands at 20 teachers per 1,000
students compared with 70-100 teachers per 1,000 students in district schools. The shortage of teachers,
especially those qualified in sciences, mathematics and languages has resulted in a widening of the academic
gap between urban and rural students.

CLOCKWISE, FROM ABOVE: Their Majesties the King and Queen and the young HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
observe a class being taught in a rural school.
Their Majesties the King and Queen travelled to some of the remotest parts of the country to check on the condition of
underpriviledged children.
For several decades, His Majesty maintained the tradition of presenting degrees to university graduates.

The consequence is a major disparity in access to higher education between graduates of rural and urban
Border schools suffer the most, since there are many students, but very few teachers, says Khwankeo
Vajarodaya, Grand Champerlain of the Royal Household Bureau, chairman of the Rajaprajanugroh
Foundation, and manager of Wang Klaikangwol School in Hua Hin.
At Wang Klaikangwol School, a private school established by King Prajadhipok (Rama VIII) in 1938,
students have access to teachers of the highest credentials.
We tried to figure out how we could give access to classroom teaching in Wang Klaikangwol School to
students in remote schools via satellite, Khwankeo recalls.
In 1995, the dream was finally realised. The Distance Learning via Satellite Foundation (DLF) successfully
linked classrooms in Wang Klaikangwol School with classrooms in remote schools. The first transmission
was broadcast on December 5, 1995, the birthday of His Majesty the King to mark the auspicious occasion of
the 50th anniversary of His Majestys ascension to the throne. The live satellite broadcast reached remote
schools, where students were able to follow the lessons along with their peers at Wang Klaikangwol.
Student morale at the remote schools has improved, says Mr Khwankeo. They know they are given the
same quality and standard of education, the same teacher and tutor, the same period of study, and the same
treatment as His Majesty the Kings students.
Distance learning has proved to be a success, and the foundation has expanded its broadcasts to cover both
primary and secondary school curricula, as well as vocational training, community education, university

education and classes in six foreign languages.

Presently, the satellite transmissions are picked up beyond national borders, reaching schools and
households in neighbouring China (Yunnan), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. A number of schools
and universities in these countries have received royal grants to cover the purchase of distance learning
In an effort to narrow the gap between the haves and the have-nots, His Majesty has initiated several
educational alternatives that offer different options for learning. One of them is the Thai Junior
Encyclopaedia Project.
According to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Princess Mother bought an ncyclopaedia so that
members of the Royal Family could find answers to their questions. His Majesty said he would like to have
that kind of encyclopaedia translated into Thai.

LEFT, TOP TO BOTTOM: His Majesty the King with students of

Wang Klaikangwol School.
A young student from Rajaprachanugroh School carries a portrait
of His Majesty in one arm and a donation package in the other.

The Thai Junior Encyclopaedia is divided into three levels. The high level is for older children and adults
seeking specialised knowledge on a variety of subjects. The other two are for intermediate and elementary
school children.
His Majesty summarised the purpose of the encyclopaedia as follows: They are books that include all the
knowledge humans have gathered since ancient times. Normally this knowledge is learned at schools or
educational institutions. But due to a lack of teachers and schools, there need to be an alternative source of
knowledge which enables people to learn by themselves or from relatives and friends who know more.
Five years after the inception of the project, the first Thai Junior Encyclopaedia was completed and 10,000
copies printed. Half of the first volume was distributed to school libraries across the country. The other half
was available for sale to the general public.
Realising that some people, especially the underprivileged, are enthusiastic to improve their professional
training but are unable to do so due to their lack of basic knowledge and financial support, in 1975 His
Majesty initiated a project called Phra Dabos.
The concept of the Phra Dabos school is like that of the phra dabos (hermits) in folk tales. According to the
tales, anybody wishing to gain knowledge would go to the woods to find a phra dabos. Before one could be
admitted as a student, one would be required to pass tests of faith, patience, and intention to study. Once
admitted, the students would serve their phra dabos mentor in exchange for free education.
By integrating this philosophy into the present nonformal education concept, His Majesty wished to impart
not only professional training but also social ethics and compassion. The school is
open to anyone regardless of their age, gender, or educational background.
Following the royal initiative, the first programme offering electronics and radio training was launched in
1976 at the Office of the Royal Household Bureau on Samsen Road.
With the Kings initial contribution of 5,000 baht a month, nine students participated in the nine-month
training programme. Seven passed the final assessment test and scored above average. Since then the
programmes curriculum has been extended to include intermediate electronics and radio repair, welding,
and skills relating to the construction and electrical professions.
While Education for All has become a catch phrase internationally only recently, His Majesty the King has
quietly campaigned for this goal for several decades. With little fanfare, His Majesty travelled to every corner
of the country and saw for himself how equal opportunity in education could be offered to as many people as
possible without regard to religion, location, ethnicity, or economic background.

For six decades His Majesty the King has inspired and touched the hearts and souls of millions of his subjects.
The worlds hardest working monarch as seen through the eyes of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

LEFT TO RIGHT: In this picture taken in 1970s, His Majesty holds Princess Ubolratana in his arm, while HRH Princess Maha
Chakri Sirindhorn looks on. A loving father, His Majesty the King has inspired his children to devote themselves to work for
the people and the country. Early in his reign, His Majesty is surrounded by his subjects, whose loyalty has only deepened in
passing decades.

Following in
her father's
HRH Princess
Maha Chakri
witnessed the
suffering of
and pledged to
do whatever
she could to
help them.
Getting direct
from the local
people is one
of His
main working
His Majesty
turns his
camera to
HRH Princess
Maha Chakri
while she cuts
rice stalks.

Get the facts right. Go to the source. Listen to the people.Build coordination between different state agencies.
And never give up.Whether its a royal effort to improve the livelihood of the rural poor or to fight floods for

Bangkokians,His Majesty the King always operates on the same working principles as recounted here by
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha
Chakri Sirindhorn.
As His Majestys daughter and personal secretary, the Princess probably knows best how His Majesty works
with a thorough understanding of the countrys big picture while always maintaining an eye for detail.
The following is a transcript of a well-known interview with the Princess which clearly shows His Majestys
dedication to the people,His absolute selfdiscipline and His tireless quest for knowledge that has made him
the worlds hardest working monarch.
His Majestys primary task is to do his best to develop the country. However, his idea of development is not
just to go into a village and blindly give directions.
First, he must know all the geographical conditions of the area the height, depth, everything. It seems he
knows the entire country very well. Thats because hes got first-hand experience. Which he believes is very
And thats why he always drives himself during field trips and doesnt mind walking. He says it gives him
insight into a place.
When travelling by other types of vehicle, like helicopter, he also uses these chances to review and correct
maps. He would be very angry if we fell asleep. He said that to ride in a helicopter using petrol paid for by
the public is a privilege, and therefore we must make the most of it, for the good of the people. We cant
just listen to the whirr of the engine and go to sleep. Still, His Majesty is the only one who always observes
the terrain below and compares it with what was shown on maps and aerial photographs.
It takes a long time to make a map, and sometimes by the time the map is finished, the landscape has already
changed, for example, new settlements, new reservoirs that change watercourses, and so on.
I dont know exactly when His Majesty began to use aerial photographs. But the furthest back I can recall is
one day when I was little, and he asked me to help him arrange pictures of a project. I remember I quit to go
out and play when the work was only half done. Thats why I didnt gain knowledge in this field.
The aerial photos he uses are provided by the Royal Thai Survey Department and the Air Forces Directorate
of Aerial Reconnaissance. Instead of using two reference pictures like we do, His Majesty can just look at a
photograph and plot things down on the map. But sometimes he has trouble with mosaic pictures because in
such pictures the same house can appear in two places.
He doesnt just use the photos provided by government agencies but also takes some himself. He always
brings along both compact and SLR cameras. Like when the construction of a dam is completed, he would
take pictures of the dam and the engineers. He keeps these pictures in catalogues.
Every time he rides in a helicopter, he takes pictures of the landscape below. Afterwards he lays the pictures
out and tapes them together. The result is a makeshift aerial photograph which can be used for planning
development projects.
Speaking of maps and aerial photos, I must also talk about His Majestys use of satellite images. They are one
of the things he is interested in because he has long been involved in agricultural planning, and particularly
working on artificial rain. To help in agricultural planning and the making of artificial rain, you need to have
knowledge of the wind and rain, of meteorology.

Every day for the past 10 to 20 years, the Department of Meteorology has sent His Majesty the daily weather
forecast map. Lately, they also send him the meteorological satellite photos.
His Majesty would then read the weather forecast map and the satellite images, make notes, and plot the
paths of storms, their names, and the effects they tend to create. This information would be used in
determining the development of agriculture and water sources.
In 1986, Bangkokians faced a big flood problem. Seeing the peoples hardship and equipped with his mapreading habit, His Majesty believed he might find a way to alleviate the situation and fix some damage.
I had seen him working on his plan before the flood. First he hunted around for Bangkok maps, from the
oldest ones he could find to the most current ones. Then he arranged them in chronological order to
compare the city and its water drainage system during different ages. He also studied old aerial photographs.
When the flood crisis was about to begin, he went out to observe several areas. I didnt go with him so I cant
give much detail. I once followed him after he left but couldnt find him. Instead, I got stuck in a tremendous
flood, so I decided to go back home. But from what he told me, whenever he goes on such observation trips
he brings along officials from several agenciesthe Irrigation Department, Bangkok Metropolitan
Administration and other concerned agencies.
And like when he plans for rural development, His Majesty looks at each area to see how water naturally
flows in and out of it. For different areas have different problems. If we look at it superficially, we tend to
think it is the same flood problem.
But His Majesty looks at each place very closely and sees that they are actually different. He considers every
factor that contributes to the flood. And during his surveys he uses every person he knows, even if they are
not engineers and not related to engineering.
Policemen, for example. He would ask them to measure the water level and report it to him. He also asked a
friend who lived in the flooded area to measure the water level at his house every day and keep him
His Majesty also uses people he doesnt know by having people he knows ask their friends to keep records of
the water level every morning and evening so he could use the information for his planning.
When he visits an area he would explain the system of that area and how its problem could be solved as well
as how things work in other areas.
These days he understands Bangkok more thoroughly. He understands the water pattern in each canal its
flood and ebb tides and what happens when it wreaks havoc, what goes wrong.
Some canals are no longer natural drains because they are blocked. For instance, in one case someone was
growing banana trees that blocked a canal. His Majesty gently asked people in the neighbourhood who the
trees belonged to.
When the owner showed up, His Majesty asked him: How much do you care for these trees? And the man
replied: Not so much. To this His Majesty said: Not so much means you still care a little.
He knew the man had consideration for him. So His Majesty told him that he didnt want to bully him but: If
you dont care for them so much, please allow me to have them cleared out. He always negotiates

diplomatically like this.

Sometimes he gives ideas to officials and passes on the work to them. He would use anybody who could
possibly help him with information. His idea is to gather all the information and keep it systematically and
comprehensively. For example, we cant just use hydro-engineering to explain a flood. There are several
factors involved meteorological elements, water in Bangkok, water flowing down from the northern part of
the country, and the tides from the gulf.
His Majesty seeks information from all sources. For example, officials concerned with hydrography,
meteorology, irrigation and power generating. And many more. Thats how he builds his database.
From Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorns interview with Radio Chula in 1987, which
clearly shows His Majestys working principles, just as applicable today as they were back then.
In her latest book, Duj Duang Tawan,Her Royal Highness
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn shares personal anecdotes that give insight into His Majesty the Kings
commitment to education and information to improve the lives of the rural poor a shining example of a
dedicated monarch, as illustrated by this excerpt:

Being keen on Thailand's
geography, His Majesty has
made accurate and
comprehensive maps to be
used for rural development.
His Majesty has had a tight
schedule with both royal
ceremonies in the city and
development work.
His Majesty is often at the
wheel himself, navigating
through rough terrain during
his upcountry visits to
improve the livelihood of the
rural poor.
When traveling by helicopter,
His Majesty takes the
opportunity to review and
correct maps.
A farming couple offers a
bucket full of vegetables to His
Majesty and His Royal
Highness Crown Prince Maha
Vajiralongkorn during a royal
trip to foster community selfsufficiency.
The hard-working monarch
has guided the people through
all types of hardship.

His Majesty the King is interested in various fields of knowledge. He is a thinker and inventor who can
explain his thoughts to others. He is a good teacher himself. Often when he goes out to meet the people, he
advises those who come to welcome him on various matters such as the preservation of watersheds and
farming. From my experience, an example of His Majestys qualities as a teacher could be seen during a trip
upcountry many years ago.
I was about seven or eight years old at the time and we were travelling in the same car. On the way, he taught
me and my brother and sister how to determine the traveling time by calculating the distance and speed. He
also taught us about the topography and at night he taught us about stars in the sky.
One day I teased people in the entourage by asking them how many grains of rice there were in a sack.
Nobody answered. When His Majesty heard about this he had somebody fetch him a litre of rice and made
me agree that the result of that calculation would be an estimate.
He told me to fill a cup with rice to see how many cups it took for the whole litre. After that he told me to
count the rice grains in the cup and multiply that by the number of cups taken out. The result was the
number of rice grains in one litre.
Then I had to multiply that by the number of litres in one thang [a traditional unit for measuring rice], and
multiply the result with the number of thang in one sack. What I got at the end was the number of rice grains
in the sack. That was the first time I learned to do estimated calculations.

A few years later when I had to study math and do exercises from the Education Ministrys textbook, which
were all similar to one another, I became bored and didnt pay much attention to the subject, claiming that I
didnt see any use for it in real life.
His Majesty cured my laziness by giving me just two math exercises to do during the following summer
break, which lasted almost three months. The first exercise was about water buckets, which I was familiar
with because the Hua Hin district where we spent the holidays was pretty arid and the buckets were
necessary items.
Every time the Royal Medic Squad went out to visit villages we would gather money to buy buckets for the
villagers. In the exercise, I had to calculate from the number of donated buckets the amount of water people
used each day and the amount of rainfall.
To make it worse, it was assumed that the buckets had holes. There was simply no answer to this exercise.
The other exercise was about the income and expenses of a family that is rather poor. Despite the fact that
the children of this family receive Royal scholarships and some financial aid, they still have a hard time
making ends meet.
One day, a member of the family became sick and, worse still, their house was hit by a heavy storm which
damaged the roof. The family had to borrow money from a loan shark to buy corrugated iron and have their
roof repaired. This exercise, too, had no definite answer. But it helped me learn about the prices of food and
things because I had to find out the real prices from the market. I couldnt make them up.
As for geography, instead of just letting me learn it from books, His Majesty encouraged me to compare the
actual landscape with the map. Clouds too. He taught me with real clouds in the sky, not just their names in
a book.
He didnt do this just with his children. He wants every Thai to have the chance to study. And this
determination of his is evident in the Rongrian Phra Dabos project.
From the article titled Rongrian Phra Dabos in A Compilation of HRH Princess Maha Chakri
Sirindhorns Writings, Bangkok Bank, 1978, page 185-7.
The Phra Dabos project (initiated by His Majesty the King in 1976) is basically a kind of nonformal
There are lots of people in society who are equipped with useful knowledge but these people dont have
enough money to open a school of their own. At the same time, they dont want to work with the
government, but they are ready to pass on what they know to others.
His Majesty said that the concept of the Phra Dabos project is like that of the Phra Dabos (hermits) in
folktales. In the old days, anybody seeking knowledge would go into the woods to stay with the Phra Dabos,
serve them and learn from them.
His Majesty said that even these days, there are still people who are glad to be Phra Dabos. We should
provide them with the facilities and food they need, like creating a forest for them.

Meanwhile, children who come to study should have moral responsibilities so the relationship between the
teacher and the children will be good. The most concrete field of study so far is electronics and a few other
subjects. Students who have finished the course can study further in a related field. Many have managed to
use the knowledge to earn themselves a living.
From HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorns interview with Prof Pairash Thajchayapong, on May 12,
1995, on His Majesty the King and information technology, at Chaipattana Building in the Chitralada Palace.
His Majesty told me about how HRH the Princess Mother used to teach him how to do research. And she did
research herself, too. The Princess Mother told him that whenever her children had questions about things,
she would try to find the answers. So she bought an encyclopedia for the whole family to use.
Later, His Majesty wanted to have that kind of encyclopedia produced for Thai people, in Thai. He said that
at that time, we the children were still of school age. The older child could teach the younger one. So he
had them produced in three levels.
The high level is for older children and grown-ups who do not have specialized knowledge in those subjects.
The other two levels are intermediate and elementary. Actually, its not easy to explain complicated subjects
in language young children can understand. But that was made possible with the help of several people.
Theyve been working on the project for 20 to 30 years, producing one set after another.
The encyclopedia is a compilation of academic information for easy reference. Id like to cite a few parts of a
speech His Majesty made to the committee in 1974:
Again, we can conclude the purpose of encyclopedias: Theyre books that include all the knowledge humans
have gathered since ancient times, processing it for later generations.
Normally, this knowledge is learned at schools or educational institutions. But due to the lack of teachers
and schools, there needs to be a source of knowledge which enables people to learn by themselves, or from
relatives and friends who know more. Knowledge could be passed on from one person to another without
having to be gained through school.
And heres a bit more from the speech.
The purpose of this encyclopedia is to point out to readers and users that all sciences are related. Its not
that a person who is a specialist in one particular field can work completely on his own. Furthermore, it
shows that to succeed, everybody must depend on another person one science is completed by another
In short, its education for underprivileged children and a conjunction of all sciences.
From a speech titled Education and National Development given on November 7,1995, at
Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok.
Their Majesties are very good at recognizing people. They also remember what should be done for every
single person. His Majesty has it all recorded in his head.

Other people cant remember such things and when they ask how His Majesty manages to do so, he says that
if we care, we remember. When we care for people, love them and wish to help them find happiness, we
think about

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: With his vision, His Majesty guides government officials for a rural development work that
is both efficient and sustainable.
His Majesty observes the livelihood of the people.
His Majesty, accompanied by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri
Sirindhorn and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration officials, inspect the Makkasan swamp to tackle water pollution

them. Hearing this, I felt like Im the one who does not love the people and does not want them to be happy.
And I felt guilty. So I had to find ways to compete with him, to serve him. Thats why I started building up a
Actually, the truth is we wanted to do this, not him. He could remember it without any help.
From HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorns interview with Prof Pairash Thajchayapong, on May 12,
1995, on His Majesty the King and information technology, at Chaipattana Building in the Chitralada Palace.
As for rural development, especially in remote and dangerous places, Their Majesties the King and Queen
always cover all areas of life. They would start by getting to know the villagers and trying to gain their trust.
That is not so difficult for them because most people regard His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the
Queen as their father and mother who can help them solve problems and lessen their hardship. Whatever
they say, people listen.

In areas where communication is lacking, His Majesty would put an emphasis on peoples self-sufficiency
enabling them to rely on external factors as little as possible, especially for rice. Everybody must eat rice.
Weve got to do everything that gives farmers enough rice to eat.
Also, weve got to make sure there are markets for their products so they have the money to buy the
necessities they cant produce. Buying consumer goods is wasteful because you have to pay prices that
include transportation and service costs. So people should try to grow their own rice. It is also important that
the people enjoy good health and that the sick get proper medical care. Sickness causes a lot of problems.
Some people lose everything when they have to pay the hospital bills.
Weve also got to give the people the chance to have an education. At least they should be literate and able to
read official documents to gain knowledge about new technologies. This is difficult in some remote areas.
In some places, even though schools are available, students cannot go to school because they cannot afford to
pay for the textbooks (despite the fact that primary education is compulsory and free of charge). Some
students have to work and some live too far away from school.
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during an interview on development and aid to rural villagers,
given to the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board in 1985.
The reason I like to help people is, I guess, because Im used to it. Ever since I was young, Ive seen that His
Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother were always busy
trying to find ways to help better the living conditions of the Thai people.
Following him around, I witnessed the hardship my compatriots were facing. That made me feel I should
help with whatever I could. I shouldnt be idle. So when I grew up and had the ability to help, I just did it
automatically, following His Majestys instructions and guidelines. Anyway, to help the people is a duty of
the royal family. Besides, helping those who are in trouble is in accordance with Buddhist teachings. Meritmakers achieve happiness from giving, which is a merit.
One more thingI always feel that being a princess is a privilege. I get trust, help, knowledge and all kinds of
cooperation. Dealing with people is also made easy. Its a hereditary benefit for the family whose ancestors
have done good deeds for the country.
The benefits fall on their children and grandchildren. So we should use this privilege for the good of other
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during an interview on development and aid to rural villagers,
given to the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board in 1985.
His Majesty uses a computer every day. And when he composes a song he doesnt use a ready-made music
programme. He does it with an ordinary, basic one. These days when he writes stories he always writes them
on a computer. But before he actually writes a long story he would first make up some short stories as
Another thing he does with the computer is drawing. He doesnt use any modern software, but an old one. I

dont know how he does it. He does it by himself. Like when he wrote the Phra Mahajanaka book, he also
drew the picture of Phra Mahajanaka swimming while Nang Manee Makhala flies towards him.
When drawing a map (for the book), he didnt use any map-making programme, either. He drew a map of
India. And from what was said in the Jataka tale, he worked out where the places mentioned should be; like
where Phra Mahajanaka swam, and where each character in the story travelled.
He plotted the places on a modern map. Then he got out the meteorological map and figured out what the
weather would have been like on that day. He compared the situation to what happened when a fierce storm
swept fishermen over to Bangladesh. He said the weather must have been
like that.
He then compared different positions of the sun and the moon.
Everything that he converted from the Jataka into modern-day terms, he
typed on the computer. He also writes his new songs on the computer.
Songs like Pleng Rak and Menu Khai he did on the computer.
When typing letters or any other document, he does it on the computer
himself. Also, he uses it to write speeches for different occasions, like the
royal speech on December 4. After he finishes writing those speeches, he
translates them into English himself and types the translated version on
the computer. Now he is writing an autobiography. I have no idea how far
he has gone. Ive never seen it. But he writes it on the computer.

While trying to alleviate suffering and

poverty for adult villagers, His Majesty
also tries to ensure that the future of
rural Thai children will not be bleak.

From HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorns interview with Prof Pairash Thajchayapong, on May 12,
1995, on His Majesty the King and information technology, at Chaipattana Building in the Chitralada Palace.
His Majesty is interested in information and the filing of information. He gathers and files information he
has, not on the computer, but in conventional files which he keeps in different categories. Hes been doing
this for a long time. He told me that he has taught his filing system to Khun Khwankeo (Grand Chamberlain
Khwankeo Vajarodaya) who now does the work for him.
If anybody asks Khun Khwankeo about His Majestys royal duties during the early years of his reign, hell
find that Khun Khwankeo has all that information carefully filed. There are details about public health, and
the royal visits to the United States and Europe in 1960, for example. Also, there are photographs taken by
His Majestys private photographers. Each of them is numbered in order to make it easy to retrieve. Thats
also a system he has set up.
As for maps, His Majesty doesnt use digital mapping, which is a popular method nowadays. Instead, he
remembers the features of the places when he visits them. When driving across bridges, he would look down
at the stream and see which direction the water flowsthat gives him some idea about the inclination of the
terrain. He records and processes the information in his head the way we do for the digital models and maps
in the computer. Then he would describe the model he has in his mind to other people so that they could
work on the details.
From the speech titled Information Technologies Beneficial to National Development given by HRH
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on June 2, 1995, at the United Nations Convention Centre in Bangkok.

His Majesty has maps from the Armys Royal Thai Survey Department. Most of them are 1:50,000 maps. He
compares them with the actual terrain. If the map is incorrect or the landscape has changed he makes
corrections on the map.
Also, he adds changes that villagers tell him about. When people come to him to request that a reservoir be
built, he would ask villagers about their farmland and the watercourses so he would know what should be
done. Some may say that the villagers might not have given the correct information but I think His Majesty
double checks that information with several people. So what hes got is basic information that is accurate
enough for the officials to use.
Sometimes he obtains information that field officials missed or details the aerial photographs could not
record because the area was covered by clouds.
Since he always writes things down on his maps, he couldnt keep them in the plastic map envelopes. The
information he notes down is useful for a long time. After some time, though, the maps get worn-out. And
when he gets new maps, he has to copy all the notes onto the new ones. He also connects the maps himself.
Nobody does it the way he wants.
The gadgets he uses with the maps are nothing more than a compass and the cars altimeter. When he draws
up a map, he doesnt do it on the computer. Lets say he uses only his skills and some basic equipment. When
he travels, he is always followed by officials from the Royal Thai Survey Department. They use His Majestys
remarks to help them correct the maps.
As for aerial photographs, His Majesty looks at them one by one. Sometimes he compares the photos he
already has with the maps. In case the given project does not have aerial photos or those available are too
old, he would have new photos taken.
A lot of his knowledge, I think, came from experience. For example, in rain-making hed observe the wind
direction and read the air pressure from the meteorological map. Then he knows what to do. And when a
storm comes, he would know it from the map.
Knowing the speed the storm is moving, he can predict when it would arrive and has some time to warn the
people to get ready for it.
The meteorological maps are delivered to His Majesty in envelopes. Actually, all the information he uses is
nothing mysterious. Nothing beyond the reach of other people. Nothing special. The difference is just that he
has them delivered. But more to the point is his ability to decipher information from them. As for maps, they
are ordinary ones but he can read them.
From HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirinndhorns interview with Prof Pairash Thajchayapong on May 12,
1995 on His Majesty the King and information technology, at the Chaipattana Building in the Chitralada
Duj Duang Tawan (Like the Sun) is a compilation of excerpts from writings and speeches by Her Royal Highness Princess
Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The palm-sized book also features poems and drawings by the Princess for His Majesty as well as
His Majesty's computer drawings and music notes. Compiled by Suparat Lertpanichkul, the book is published by Nanmee
This is excerpted from an article entitled A Regal Example, which appears in the book A Visionary Monarch published by
the Bangkok Post to celebrate His Majesty the King's 72nd birthday.

His Majesty
and forest
to ensure a
steady supply
of water for
His Majesty
travels to
remote areas
in order to
meet the
people and
gain a firsthand
of their
Bangkok was
hit by
flooding, His
observed how
water flows in
the capitals
canals and
and he
came up with
schemes to
help protect
the urban
This drawing
is a birds eye
drawn by His
Majesty from
the air of a
royal project
on the Kam
River in
Majesties the
King and
appreciate the
beauty of

All newly industrialized countries must struggle to manage the negative effects that rapid economic and
industrial growth can have on natural resources and the environment. Thailand is no exception. From 1960
through to the onset of the economic crisis in 1997, the Thai economy grew at an average rate of seven
percent per year. But what environmental costs were incurred from such rapid growth?
Where 53 percent of Thailands total land mass was forested in the early 1960s, just 26 percent remained in
1993. Over the past three decades, an average of 3.3 million rai of forested areas were destroyed each year.
Soil, water and air quality have suffered similar degradation.
But who is to blame?
Responsibility for environmental degradation is in the hands of every citizen. Be they rich or poor, rural or
urban, members of highland hill tribes or lowland farmers, the cumulative impact of over exploitation of a
fragile affects everyone.
What can we do?
There is one voice that everyone in the nation listens to. The Kings annual birthday speech has always
tended to focus on issues related to the environment and economic development. What follows is an excerpt
from a speech delivered by His Majesty to an audience of well-wishers on December 4, 1993.
The problem is that, when the rains come, there are floods and the water must be drained swiftly. When the
water is gone, a water shortage follows soon after. Therefore, the retention of water is important. Even in the
South, water resources are inadequate. On this subject, I will let< you think for yourselves where the water
should be retained because any location will lead to protests. We dont want to be confronted with protests;
they are tiring and useless.
But the fact is, if we can retain water, a flood like the present one will be less severe, and in the dry season,
which is two or three months from now, when the rain will be scarce, the stored water can be released for
cultivation, even for rice cultivation.
Therefore, if we are thinking of water management for the end of the year, we must think ahead. And if we
dont think in this way, if we think only the short term, we will encounter both the danger of flooding and the
danger of drought, as we are at the present time. That is why we have to think carefully.
On December 4, 1989, His Majesty said in his speech to birthday well-wishers: Just the other day we were
saying that water will soon be scarce in Thailand. There will be no water left and we would have to buy water
from other countries. That could be possible. But I believe it wont happen. If we calculate the amount of
water flowing in Thailand, theres still sufficient water around. It only needs to be well managed. With good
management, we will have plenty of water
Five years later, on December 4, 1994, His Majesty spoke along similar lines: Every year some things
change while others remain the same. If you compare this year with the last, there have been many changes.
Last year I talked about drought and flood. We had severe drought and some flooding. This year, we have
some drought and severe floods. Thats the major difference.
Development of water resources is clearly a subject HM holds most dear to his heart. Importantly, we
must have water. Because water is crucial for consumption and agricultural uses, our lives depend on it. If
there is water, we can live. If there is no water, we cannot live. If there is no electricity, we can still survive. If
theres electricity but no water, then we cannot survive

HM advocates for reforestation and forest conservation as dual means to ensure a steady supply of water for
consumption and cultivation.
To preserve watersheds for eternity, it is important that we maintain and replant forests in watershed
areas, said
His Majesty in one of his speeches. His Majesty is frequently sighted traveling to remote rural areas in order
to meet the people and gain a firsthand understanding of their problems. Indeed, The King has rightfully
earned a reputation as a working monarch.
Pho Luang Jorni Odoshau recalls fondly a cool February day some 15 years ago when two visitors came to his
high mountain village.
The visitors were none other than His Majesty and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who had traveled
all the way to Ben Nong Tao, located some 1,100 metres above sea level in Chiang Mais Mae Wang district.
Both were on hand to inspect a site where His Majesty had earlier initiated construction of a dike and
widening of an existing stream in order to facilitate delivery of adequate supplies of water for irrigation and
personal consumption.
For the people of highland Karen tribe, the project represented a clear and concrete manifestation of His
Majestys kindness to his subjects across the land. The hill-tribe villagers started a tree ordaining
programme with the aim to ordain 50 million trees in the catchment areas of the northern mountains as a
way to thank HM for his kindness. Tree ordinations involve the adaptation of the Buddhist monk ordination
ritual for use on trees.
Pho Luang Jorni explains that ordaining a tree would allow forests which have deteriorated over the years to
grow back undisturbed. The ideas grew from HMs advice, said the Karenni headman.
The King said a couple of years ago that we should leave degraded forests alone, not to disturb them, and
they will regenerate on their own.
According to HM, reforestation projects should focus on three types of useful trees. First, fuel woods, such as
krathin thepa, should be cultivated for household use. The availability of this wood would prevent villagers
from cutting down trees in the wild. Second, fruit-bearing trees, such as mangoes should be planted for
consumption. And finally, trees that have commercial value like yang na or teak should be planted so that
villagers can use or sell them as construction materials.
What His Majesty tries to do is to revive the ecology through attention to the interdependence between the
soil, water supplies, and forested areas, said Kriengsak Hongto, director of the Khao Hin Son Royal
Development Study Centre in the eastern province of Chachoengsao.
Water is particularly important. It is a life-giving force. The King always told us that we have to reforest the
highland area as it provides an important source stored water for us.
But the task is not accomplished by planting a lot of trees. For the King, reforestation necessitates a thorough
understanding the interdependency between humans and their environment.
Some people wonder why I became interested in irrigation or forestry, His Majesty said in one of his
speeches 30 years ago. I remember that when I was 10 years old, a science teacher who is now dead taught
me about soil conservation. We had to write: There must be forest on the mountain or the rain will erode the

soil and damage the mountain surface.

This is a fundamental fact of soil and forest conservation and of irrigation. If we fail to maintain the
highland forest, we will have problems ranging from soil erosion to sedimentation in dams and in rivers.
Both can lead to floods. I have understood these relationships since I was 10. Since 1974 His Majesty has
launched several reforestation projects. The work is now being jointly coordinated by his Chaipattana
Foundation and the Princess Mothers Mae Fah Luang Foundation.
Among his many initiatives, The Kings plan for land allocation, called The New Theory, has been widely
practiced. Finding that most farmers possess an average of 10 to 15 rai of land, His Majesty suggested that
individual plots be divided into four portions. A farm pond, a rice field, and fruit and fuel wood trees would
each take up 30 per cent of the land. The remaining10 percent land would be allocated for a house, roads,
vegetable gardens and animal farming.
With this 30-30-30-10 formula, the farmer would have adequate water for household and agricultural
uses. With fish from the pond, rice from the field and fruit and fuel wood from the trees, farmers become
totally self-sufficient and may even produce enough to sell for extra income.
His Majestys idea of tree planting represents a compromise between forestry officials practice of clearcutting and then re-planting the same species of tree as one would on a farm, and the deep ecologists belief
that formerly forested areas should be left to regenerate themselves.
Never peel the land, His Majesty told officials from the Office of the Board of the Royal Development
Projects in an address on the subject of reforestation techniques. Dont plough away the surface soil as you
have been doing. It depletes the fertile top soil and the survival rate of seedlings is very low. Up to 80 per
cent of them die.
Understanding the need to conserve and improve soilconditions, His Majesty

'If we fail to maintain the highland forest, we will have problems ranging from soil erosion to sedimentation in
dams and in rivers. Both can lead to floods.'

His Majestys
map of a water
project for the
His Majesty
cash crop
through the
Royal Project
for the
hilltribes in
place of their
To preserve
for eternity, it
is important
that we
maintain and
replant forests
in watershed
areas, said
His Majesty in
a speech.
While playing
in a Swiss
forest as a
boy, His
Majesty shows
his keenness
for water
by building a
dam with clay.
During visits
to rural areas
in the 1960s,
Majesties the
King and
Queen saw
with their own
eyes the
plaguing the
that led them
to initiate
many royal
Rather than
focus on

poverty alone,
His Majesty
into his
His Majesty
records his
while on a trip
with Her
Majesty the

urges farmers to use buffaloes or cows instead of tractors to plough rice fields. He also advocates that
farmers plant a variety of fruit and fuel wood trees, using as many indigenous species as possible.
His Majesty discourages the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides, urging the farmers to grow plants
which can be made into natural insecticides and to use only organic fertilizers in their fields. He also
cautioned against the application of weed killers or herbicides. He warned that farmers should never use
these chemicals because they are extremely dangerous. These toxic substances, once applied are left in the
soil for a very long time.
Following the His Majestys advice, many of Thailands farmers have practiced for years what
environmentalists now call integrated farming.
Another of his many great initiatives was his introduction in 1991 of vetiver grass as a natural deterrent to
soil erosion and excessive water run-off. The hardy grass also stores nitrogen, conserves moisture in the soil
and prevents toxic substances from reaching water sources.
Vetiver planting has been employed in various locations. Its presence has proved useful mainly near
reforestation projects, on roadsides, in areas prone to soil erosion, at land fill sites, in flatlands, around the
edges of ponds and reservoirs and on farms.
His Majestys vetiver grass initiative has received worldwide attention and acclaim. In 1996 Thailand won
the honor of being the host of the First International Conference on Vetiver.
In response to the Royal initiative, more than 30 agencies from the government and private sectors are
working together to conduct studies, research and field experiments. His Majesty has constantly kept himself
apprised of the progress of projects under development and has provided additional guidelines to improve
the results. Already, vetiver has been the subject of more than one hundred research projects.
To His Majesty, environmental conservation is not a matter of conservation for its own sake, Dr Sumet
Tantivejkul, Secretary-General of the Chaipattana Foundation explained. The word conservation by itself
denotes a very narrow meaning. An important element is the principle of management, and of taking into
account the interdependency between human beings and natural resources.
Human beings have a need to exploit natural resources while ensuring that they will be available for future
generations. The problem is how to manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The philosophy and principles underlying His Majestys activities have been preached by environmentalists

for years: reforestation by allowing forests to regenerate themselves; integrated farming; appropriate
technology; moderation in living and agricultural development; the belief that local villagers are best suited
to maintain and benefit from the forests in which they live; use of natural methods to fight pollution such as
using water hyacinth to treat polluted water; and aversion to using chemical fertilizers and insecticides.
Some uncertainties still surround the much-debated issue of dam construction. Generally His Majesty
supports small scale widely distributed irrigation projects for the alleviation of immediate problems faced by
farmers. In his New Theory scheme, he proposes a three-tiered irrigation system that utilizes individual
ponds, a community reservoir, and a larger basin.
'Never peel the land. Dont plough away the surface soil as you have been doing. It depletes the fertile top soil and
the survival rate of seedlings is very low.'

These small- and medium-scale water storage facilities, His Majesty notes, will act as rain water regulators,
meaning that the reserves will compliment the use of natural water supplies during the dry season or in
times of drought. When the water level drops too low in one of the water collection facilities, it will be
replenished, through extensive pipeline systems, from the next one up.

There are occasions, however, when His Majesty has suggested building large
dams. Much as he is aware of opposition to dam building on the grounds that it
permanently destroys already dwindling forests, according to his trusted aide on
development, Dr Sumet, His Majesty feels that the benefits for farmers and the
country as a whole out-weigh the loss of some part of the forest. In certain areas
and in certain situations, small-scale water storage is impracticable or
inappropriate. Large-scale dams are therefore necessary. The key is to have the
appropriate planning and good management to gain maximum benefits.
Sometimes, a certain amount of investment is required before benefits can be
realized. Sometimes Our loss is our gain.
In building a dam, we have to sacrifice a portion of forest land which is our
loss. But we gain water and farmers gain crops. The question is whether fears of
environmental damage can be allayed.
The answer is we can [mitigate some of our losses]. For example, some of the
water can be used for reforestation, and we can re-plant more trees than we will
lose. But whether it will succeed depends on implementation, said Dr Sumet.
His Majestys concerns for the people are not directed solely to those living in
the rural areas. In urban areas, he has provided advice on how to alleviate and
resolve the traffic and flooding problems that have been affecting the lives of
city residents for decades.
His Majestys concern for Bangkok residents and their plight over traffic is
ongoing and often not displayed publicly, said a senior city official. Apart from
making recommendations and being asked for advice, the official continued, His Majestys awareness of the
hardships caused by traffic is personal. In July 1995, when the late Princess Mother was undergoing
treatment at Siriraj Hospital, His Majesty would make frequent visits. But these visits were scheduled so as
not to affect the traffic and the people. His Majesty would go either very early in the morning or late at night.
His Majestys approach to city traffic problem is holistic and thus similar to the approach he adopts when
dealing with such national issues as rural development, education, public health or the environment. The
then Bangkok City Clerk, Prasert Samalapha, had dealt with flood prevention and traffic management in
Bangkok for several years. Mr Prasert said that His Majestys strategies to solve traffic and flooding
encompass human, social and environmental factors.
In 1980 Bangkok experienced one of the worst floods in its history. The city was virtually paralysed, and
many areas were under metredeep water. Some areas of the eastern suburbs around Ramkhamhaeng Road
were submerged for more than a month. Some local citizens used Army trucks and flat-bottom boats to make
their daily commute.
City officials were at a loss as how to control the floods as water from the north reached Bangkok at the same
time as tides peaked in the Gulf of Thailand. His Majesty suggested that dikes should be built at various
points along the river to stem the rising tide. Few saw the importance of this advice then, said Mr Prasert.
Only after serious flooding struck again in 1983 did authorities rush in to build the structures. Bangkok has
faced many instances of heavy rain and flooding since then, but overall the inner city and even the previously
flood-prone eastern suburbs, have remained relatively unscathed.

In 1995, said Mr Prasert, His Majestys assistance and advice again saved the city from inestimable damage.
I have to admit that without the King helping with the handling of the floods, the city would not have been
able to contain them, and inestimable damage would have resulted for the country.
The numerous speeches and initiatives of His Majesty clearly reflect his deep concerns about the
environmental problems currently facing Thailand and its people. As a result, public and private
organizations readily rally behind efforts to respond to His Majestys calls for conservation and protection of
the environment. Myriad projects, campaigns, foundations, associations and groups have been formed to
promote environmental awareness and conservation of natural resources. To affirm Thailands strong
commitment to the cause of conservation as led by its beloved monarch, The Ministry of Science, Technology
and Environment has hence declared December 4 as Thai Environmental Day.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT:Their Majesties the King and Queen on a rural visit in the 1960s. His Majestys
approach to solving Bangkoks traffic problems is similar to the approach he adopts when dealing with other issues, with
the overall solution encompassing social and environmental factors. His Majestys advice for solving both traffic and
flood problems have been sought after for decades by officials. Trisadee Mai (The New Theory) reads this sign on a plot
demonstrating His Majestys land allocation plan. Water hyacinth is used to naturally filter polluted water.

His Majesty the King talks to villagers during one of his visits to rural areas.

His Majesty reads a
message to declare
Parliament open.
Her Majesty the
accompanied by
HRH Princess
Maha Chakri
Sirindhorn and
HRH Princess
Chulabhorn, visit
the South to give
moral support to
His Majesty
presents a bag of
supplies to a
soldier during a
visit to rural areas.
His Majesty signs a
new Constitution
after it was
presented to him
by Wan Muhamad
Noor Matha, then
While remaining detached from politics and playing a nonpartisan role in political process, His Majesty the
King, as the constitutional monarch, possesses "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the
right to warn."
Thus, on April 25, 2006, as the country was embroiled in what was seen as its worst constitutional crisis and
no apparent way out in sight, His Majesty timely stepped in to provide a guiding light to defuse the crisis.
In his most direct political message, His Majesty separately told judges of the Supreme and Administrative
courts to explore all legal solutions to bring the country out of what he described as a "political mess". His
Majesty said the election which produced a one-party parliament was undemocratic, and rejected calls by
opponents of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that a royally-appointed premier be named to replace
Thaksin, pointing out that such an appointment was undemocratic.
"Please consult with the people who govern the country. Please consult with the Supreme Court, the Appeals
Court, the Criminal Court and with the other courts. It will help the country to be governed by democratic
rule. Do not wait for a royally-appointed prime minister because that would not be democratic," His Majesty

told the Supreme Court judges.

"You are Supreme Court judges with clear heads that can think of a method to work this out. The
administration must have a House with a full quorum. If not, it would not be functional. I feel that
establishing a House which lacks a quorum would only mess it up."
To the Administrative Court judges, His Majesty raised the legitimacy of the April 2 election. "Another point
is whether it was right to dissolve the House and call for snap elections within 30 days. If it was not the right
decision, it must be corrected. Should the election be nullified? You have the right to say what is appropriate
or not. If it is not appropriate, it is not that the government is not good but as far as I am concerned, a oneparty election is not normal. The one-candidate situation is undemocratic.
" Before the King's critically timely "intervention", Bangkok was beset with almost daily mass protests
mainly by middleclass urbanites under the banner of People's Alliance for Democracy urging His Majesty to
invoke Article 7 of the Constitution to appoint a prime minister to replace Mr Thaksin. Counterdemonstrations, meanwhile, were organised by Thaksin supporters urging him to stay on. In light of the
political divide, the government decided to dissolve the House and the Election Commission scheduled snap
elections for April 2. However, the election was boycotted by the Opposition, claiming it was too hasty and
caught them unprepared.
As a response to His Majesty's "words of wisdom" on April 25, senior judges of the Constitution, Supreme
Administrative and Supreme courts met to discuss "legal solutions" to the political mess. On May 8, the
Constitution Court ruled that the repositioning of polling booths by the Election Commission, which was
found to have compromised the confidentiality of the voters, and the way the snap elections was held in a
hasty manner "were unconstitutional". The Court thus nullified the April 2 election.
Thanks to the King's intervention, a solution to the messy snap elections was found. It was not the first time
His Majesty the King intervened to diffuse a political crisis. Fourteen years ago in May, His Majesty stepped
in to bring the country back to normal following what is now known as the "Black May" events.
After several days of mayhem in Bangkok which saw street demonstrators being brutally cracked down by
troops, His Majesty the King summoned political rivals then prime minister Suchinda Kraprayoon and
Major-General Chamlong Srimuang to Chitralada Palace on May 20, 1992. Televised live, a relieved nation
looked on as His Majesty, seated serenely on a sofa, spoke calmly as he explained why he had called the
meeting and the consequences its outcome could have for the nation.
"The reason I asked you to come to this meeting may not surprise you. There has been an unfathomable loss
of public confidence and morale, along with a serious loss of credibility to this nation's economy ...
" Nowadays, people everywhere are apprehensive that there will be a catastrophe, that the nation is headed
towards a complete collapse, and it will be most difficult to stop things from going that way."
His Majesty asked Suchinda and Chamlong, both seated at his feet, a rhetorical question, which undoubtedly
resonated with the entire nation: "Can there ever be a winner? Of course not. It is very dangerous. There will
only be losers. That's it. Everyone is a loser. Each side in the confrontation is a loser."
During the week leading up to the historic meeting at Chitralada Palace, Bangkok had been besieged daily
with large demonstrations. Mainly urban middle-class people were calling for the resignation of Prime
Minister Suchinda as they felt that under his leadership the country's democratic institutions were being
undermined. At one point, the otherwise peaceful demonstrations being led by Chamlong turned violent.
Believing that the crowds were trying to approach the royal residence at Dusit Palace, soldiers with orders

from the government opened fire on the unarmed demonstrators with small arms and water cannons.
Thousands tried to flee, several were killed, and many more were injured as they fled in panic. Eventually,
martial law was imposed. Until His Majesty stepped in, it seemed possible that the situation might
deteriorate even further.
Suchinda and Chamlong agreed to His Majesty's request for conciliation and the violence that had been
tearing the country apart ended just as abruptly as it had begun. Suchinda resigned and was replaced by
interim Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun. With the crisis averted, His Majesty refocused his attention
away from politics and back to his ongoing efforts to promote national development.
Historically, His Majesty had largely steered clear of playing a role in national politics. But for the good of
the people and the country, the King intervened in a time of crisis and was able to readily avert impending
conflict and instability.
Thongthong Chandrangsu, then a lecturer of law at Chulalongkorn University, said in an August 1995
interview that His Majesty's intervention came later than many people might have expected. His Majesty felt
uncomfortable about giving orders to a government that was still in power. He said His Majesty believed that
intervention had to come at the right time or it would not be effective.
The Thai government and its citizens have a long history of seeking His Majesty's help to solve problems and
avert national crises. In 1973, in the wake of what is now known as the "October 14 Uprising", His Majesty
personally intervened to restore peace and order to the political realm.
It was apparent in 1973 that public discontent with the dictatorial regime of Field Marshal Thanom
Kittikachorn was increasing. Widespread sugar shortages and alleged abuses of power by the regime and its
cronies appear to have fuelled the dissent. The crisis reached a boiling point on October 6 when police
arrested 13 activists and student leaders for publicly demanding a return to democratic rule. Large-scale
demonstrations took place at Thammasat University to demand the release of those arrested. A new
constitution was drafted on campus and distributed throughout Bangkok.
As Prime Minister, Field Marshal Thanom sought an audience with His Majesty to brief him on the situation
and to seek his advice. His Majesty expressed his wish that the authorities avoid the use of force and urged
the government to seek a peaceful resolution.
On October 13 the government submitted to all the protesters' demands. However, many demonstrators did
not trust the government's promises and tensions persisted. Student leaders turned to His Majesty for
advice. The students were told to be satisfied with their gains and to disperse. Finally, an agreement was
drafted and signed by both parties. Throughout the crisis, His Majesty played the role of the father of the
people, counselling and mediating conflicts. Nonetheless, a peaceful end to the conflict had not been
In the early morning of October 14, a fight broke out between a group of student demonstrators and
policemen. Police, who thought the retreating crowds were moving toward Chitralada Palace, used tear gas
and batons to try to get them to disperse. In the melee, many demonstrators were forced to flee toward the
palace grounds. His Majesty ordered the palace gates opened and allowed some 2,000 demonstrators to take
shelter there.
Meanwhile, rumours spread all over Bangkok that the army and the police had attacked and killed the
demonstrators. Violence flared as protesters, many of them vocational students, fought back with makeshift
weapons and set fire to government buildings and public buses. By the following day Field Marshal Thanom,
Field Marshal Praphas Charusathian (deputy PM and interior minister) and Colonel Narong Kittikachorn

(Thanom's son and Praphas' son-in-law) resigned under pressure and left the country.
In this highly charged and unstable atmosphere, His Majesty intervened with a dramatic television
appearance. His words effectively reassured the nation that the crisis had subsided and let each citizen know
that Thanom, Praphas and Narong had decided to leave the country.

Senior judges of the Supreme, Constitution and Supreme Administrative courts meet to discuss ways to end the
political crisis.
A protester dons a headband with a portrait of His Majesty the King during an anti-Thaksin rally held by the
Peoples Alliance for Democracy.


His Majesty the King addresses
Thai diplomats upon their return
home to attend a seminar on
economic development.
Two main rivals during the>
Black May event, General
Suchinda Kraprayoon and Maj
Gen Chamlong Srimuang, were
summoned to an audience with
His Majesty in order to restore
peace to the country.

The Royal Family visits wounded

soldiers in a field hospital during
the war against Communist
insurgents in the 1970s.
The Royal Family visits students
who escape from the police and
take temporary refuge at
Chitralada Palace during the
October 14 uprising in 1973.
Attired in military fatigues, His
Majesty visits a rural village to
inspect Royallysponsored
development projects.

His Majesty appointed one of his privy councillors, Prof Sanya Dharmasakdi, as interim prime minister. His
Majesty's decision was unprecedented because it was the first time he had taken a direct role in the political

During the swearing-in of the new prime minister and his cabinet, His Majesty seemed cautiously optimistic:
"The events of the past week have brought about real and substantial changes. A model form of government
is desired, so that all can reside here with dignity, security and pride. Now that democracy has been won
through struggle, it is hoped that the government will give us a truly democratic representation and that a
constitution will be promulgated within six months.
"Simultaneously, the machinery of government has fallen into disarray. Peacekeeping, the cleansing of the
spirit and body, has passed from the government to the public. It is therefore this government's special
responsibility to see that all its normal functions revert to it. Official functions must be discharged by the
government if objectives of democracy, prosperity, and the good of the majority are to be fulfilled.
"Through democracy, we elect members of parliament who, in turn, elect members of the government
responsible to them. At this juncture, however, the council of ministers is not elected by the people. I
nominate them, as befitting the present situation."
The task of nation-building in this situation was most definitely in the hands of His Majesty. There was a
gradual return to normalcy interrupted by occasional demonstrations. His Majesty worked closely with the
Sanya Dharmasakdi government to restore power to the people. In order to achieve this, a convention of
people representing all walks of life was established. His Majesty called on them to "bring about a National
Legislative Assembly which shall truly represent interests, occupations, professions as well as the spectrum
of views and opinions in our country".
By December 28, 1973, the National Legislative Assembly had been chosen. Its first session was opened by
His Majesty. In his address, he declared his wish for a democratic state that worked for the benefit of the
people: "I am most grati- fied to have seen that the election result has brought together people from various
groups and walks of life who normally conduct their business quite far apart from one another. They will
now have to come together in this assembly session in order to exchange and listen to one another's points of
view and to derive decisions from these discussions which will be beneficial to our beloved country."
With these words, His Majesty once again stepped back and returned political power to the people.
His Majesty cautiously intervened in politics once again in 1976 after the October 6 massacre of student
protesters which resulted in the collapse of then-prime minister Seni Pramoj's government. A list of three
potential candidates for the premiership was submitted to the palace for consideration. The first, Dr Prakob
Hutasingh, then deputy president of the Privy Council, was dropped due to concerns that his appointment
might create an impression of palace dominance in politics. The second candidate, Bangkok Governor
Thamnoon Thien-ngern, was dropped out of concern that his appointment might create an impression of
palace bias. The third candidate, Thanin Kraivixien, a Supreme Court judge, was finally chosen. Political
scientist Surachart Bamrungsuk once said that His Majesty's successful diffusion of national crises have
made him an important force in the country's political development. But he warned that there were dangers
in involving His Majesty too much in the democratisation process.
Dr Prawase Wasi, a highly respected social critic, agreed that His Majesty was "an invaluable national
resource" whose credibility could influence civil society to effectively solve conflicts.
"We must try to build a civil society where everyone cooperates from the grassroots, including NGOs,
academics, government officials and businessmen to weave a selfless society in which His Majesty acts as
a catalyst for generating compassion," Dr Prawase said.

ML Usni Pramoj, a privy councillor, said he believed it was His Majesty's baramee (charisma; respect and
loyalty earned by the performance of good deeds) that his words are heeded and obeyed by all parties during
times of conflict. "Everyone feels krengjai toward His Majesty [treats His Majesty with deference; unwilling
to disturb him], and he is loved by everyone. When His Majesty's advice is offered and not accepted, there
will be misfortune. His Majesty does not want anything in return for his advice. His interest is only the good
of the people. You cannot find this kind of advice from anyone else," he said.
ML Usni recalls a BBC interview during which His Majesty told a journalist that he was the greatest
communist because he acts not for personal or political gain but only for the happiness of his people and the
betterment of their livelihoods.
In response to a question about his role in choosing prime ministers, His Majesty told Leaders magazine,
"We go back to the principle of the constitution for a moment. In the constitution it is written that the King
appoints the prime minister. This is a system in which, perhaps, the experience of a king can be of use in
looking for people who would be suitable for prime minister. The president of parliament will come and have
a consultation, but the king may have more power because the people have faith in their king. That is one
"But in principle it is exactly the same as any constitutional monarch when there is a constitution which says

Students hold portraits of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen during mass demonstrations
against the regime of Field Marshall Thanom Kittikachorn in 1973.
Then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra calls on Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda
after dissolving the House and calling a snap election on April 2.

This is the first of a three-part series focusing on the life and work of His Majesty the King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, the worlds longest-reigning monarch. This first part focuses on the early stages of His Majestys
reign as he struggled to implement a rural development agenda without the support of government or the
private sector. The second article demonstrates how His Majesty earned and organised the broad-based

public support he currently enjoys. The third article chronicles how His Majestys years of hard work for the
Kingdom have culminated in a wealth of experience, credibility and success.


Appearing on the veranda of the Grand Palace after their wedding in 1950, His Majesty the King waves to the
cheering crowd with Her Majesty the Queen by his side.
A touching moment between HM the King and an elderly subject.
Riding on a mule's back, His Majesty explores rough terrain in Northern Thailand to find solutions to the drug
problem and hardship among hilltribesmen.

Many have wondered why the handsome, Swisseducated King

Bhumibol Adulyadej chose the life of a hard-working monarch.
When he ascended to the throne in 1946 at the tender age of 18
he could easily have afforded a life of idle luxury.
Rather than opting to live happily ever after inside an unreal
fairy tale, he chose instead to apply his energies to improving
the livelihoods of his subjects.
Why, during his 60 years as monarch, has His Majesty braved
the heat, dirt and dust of the rugged backwaters of rural
Thailand tackling the countrys problems? Because of his royal
status he could have earned recognition without exerting
significant effort.
A look back at his childhood seems to provide an answer.
His Majesty was born into an ideal family. His father, HRH
Prince Mahidol, was a medical doctor who devoted himself to
treating poor patients until his untimely death at the age of 37,
when His Majesty was less than two years of age.
As a child, His Majesty was raised by his commonborn mother,
HRH the Princess Mother, whose lifetime devotion not only as
a mother of the King but also as an advocate for public health
issues, stretched over a period of five decades until her death in 1995 at the age of 94.
While in the monkhood, His Majesty receives

It was obvious that the idealism of both parents has had an influence over His Majesty the King, Dr Sumet

Tantivejkul, secretary-general of the Chaipattana Foundation, said. Though His Majesty was too young to
get to know his father in person before his death, Prince Mahidols dedication to the country must have been
a great inspiration.
One can easily imagine how difficult conditions would have been in the Chiang Mai hospital where Prince
Mahidol worked in the late 1920s. Transportation to and from the northern province was extremely difficult.
He must have been quite dedicated to have worked in such appalling conditions.
Yet, the true King-maker in Dr Sumets opinion was none other than the Princess Mother, who had the
responsibility of grooming her two sons after the death of Prince Mahidol. Her philosophy of strict discipline
helped to create a thoughtful King, capable of solving problems and eager to follow in his parents footsteps
by dedicating his life to social causes.
In every phase of his life, His Majesty was taught by the Princess Mother to be down-to-earth and to be a
fighter Dr Sumet said.
As a child, His Majesty would be encouraged to work for what he desired. If he wanted a toy, he would have
to be resourceful enough to create one of his own or to save money to purchase it. Unlike many children
being raised today, His Majesty had never known easy money that could be used to buy things to indulge
his whims. Whatever he earned, he had earned it the hard way, Dr Sumet said.
The Princess Mother made a rule that none of the Mahidol children should be given gifts unless they had
either done something to deserve them or if it was for a special occasion like a birthday or a New Year
celebration. His Majesty once received a toy car as a reward for fixing a sewing machine for his nanny.
When he wished for a car, he had to walk or ride his bicycle until enough money was saved to buy a car,
said Dr Sumet.
Referring to an anecdote His Majesty related to him, Dr Sumet recalls, There was one time when His
Majesty, then a boy, borrowed money from a Royal Guard to buy a toy. Upon realising how he acquired it,
the Princess Mother commanded that he return the toy to the shop and repay what he owed to the Royal
Guard. He was told that where there was no money, there was no toy. He had to save his own money.
Instead of using money to acquire things, His Majesty was consistently motivated to apply wisdom and be
resourceful to get everything he had. In so doing he came to realise the value of the things he had.
He once built a toy ship from little more than a few scraps of wood, pieces of cloth and the wire from a
clothes hanger.
Not only did the Princess Mother instil in her children important values, she also inculcated in them a sense
of selflessness, said Dr Sumet. The royal children were taxed 10 per cent of their pocket money to fund a
`poor mans box. When the box was full, they would be asked for their opinion as to what charity the money
should go to. Not only was the Princess Mother a marvellous parent, she was democratic as well.
Over time, such unwavering values have helped His Majesty to succeed in the face of considerable odds. The
Princess Mother herself had experienced suffering in her childhood, and she taught His Majesty to be a hero
to those less fortunate than himself.

A self-taught
musician, His
composed his
first song,
Blues, in
Four years
after he
ascended to
the throne,
His Majestys
was held in
Majesties the
King and
Queen during
an official
where His
upon his wife
the title of
jazz, blues
and pop
music to the
public, His
Majesty not
songs but
gave public
to university
His Majesty
showed his
mastery of
his brush in
this portrait
of HM the


His Majesty the King began his reign on June 9, 1946, during a time marked by profound grieving. The 18yearold King was shattered by the loss of his only brother, 20- year-old King Ananda, who died a tragic,
mysterious death.
A few months after his enthronement, His Majesty returned to Switzerland to pursue his education.
While his motorcade made its way through the huge crowd that had come to bid him farewell, His Majesty
heard a voice above the crowd: Your Majesty, dont forsake the people. Upon hearing this, he was later
quoted as saying: If the people dont forsake me, how could I forsake them?
His Majesty has lived up to his word. Almost as soon as he returned permanently to Thailand in 1951, His
Majesty launched royal initiatives addressing root problems faced by the majority of poor people in
Thailand. His efforts have continued for 60 years.
Nobody at that time expected the young King the third constitutional monarch after the 1932 revolution
that toppled the absolute monarchy to perform any duties above and beyond that which was expected of
As His Majesty was building a family in the palace, he quietly and humbly sowed the seeds of his ambitious
plans for the nations development.
At that time, he had neither power nor support, said Dr Sumet. The laws had restricted him into a narrow
role, segregating him from the reigns of power. Although young, His Majesty was quite capable. Being well
aware of the limitations of his situation, he established his base of support among the people. With the
public as his base it became more difficult for him to be defeated.
In the absence of government support, the initial phase of His Majestys social development efforts faced a
harsh reality. His Majesty started off his project almost single-handedly by utilising whatever resources he
had at his disposal. Even his swimming pool was used for one of his projects, said Dr Sumet.
Indeed, late in 1951 schools of fish called pla mor thes (Tilapia mosambica) acquired by His Majesty from
Penang, Malaysia, were swimming in his pool. The first of his royal initiatives, His Majestys project aimed at
promoting protein consumption among the rural poor. The trial was a great success. Within two years, the
royal pool was filled with fingerlings which were eventually distributed throughout the country for further
Early in the 1950s severe epidemics ravaged the population causing loss of life, physical impairment and
chronic suffering. His Majestys battle against tuberculosis, polio and leprosy saved countless lives via the
promotion of large scale disease control.
With an initial contribution of 500,000 baht, His Majesty had the Mahidol Wongsanusorn Building
constructed within the compound of the Thai Red Cross Society where the BCG tuberculosis vaccine was
As the polio epidemic spread between 1951 and 1952, His Majesty donated 250,000 baht to set up a polio
welfare fund for the infected and another 534,000 baht to build the Anand Mahidol building at Siriraj
Hospital where children with polio and other contagious diseases could receive care.

In order to raise funds for the welfare of people with leprosy, His Majesty granted permission to present his
private film footage for public viewing. The presentation was overwhelmingly successful. Later, the King set
up the Rajaprachasamasai Foundation for the treatment of leprosy patients.
At a time when there was still lack of public knowledge about contagious diseases, people with leprosy were
often ostracised, Dr Sumet noted. In his effort to reduce fear and to mainstream people with leprosy into
the general populace, His Majesty visited the infected and drank from a glass of water presented to him by a
person with the disease.
In addition to his efforts to promote nutrition and public health, in 1952 His Majesty ventured into the arena
of rural development. In what is considered to be his first rural development project, His Majesty launched a
landmark road and tunnel building plan in Huai Mongkol village of Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan
province. Using bulldozers borrowed from the Naresuan Border Patrol Police Unit, a new road was built that
cut through the rough hills straight into the village. Farmers gained quick access to the outside market.
Where it once took half a day, fresh produce could now be delivered to the market in 15 minutes.
In the early stages, His Majesty worked without organisational support or a secretarial team. Only his
communication radio was provided for him. Even his field tent had to be self-provided, Dr Sumet recalled.
Most people thought that since His Majesty is the King, whatever he said would be done accordingly. But in
reality, His Majesty would not sit back and wait. He initiated and started working on projects personally.
Anyone working with him during that period recalls the picture of His Majesty standing at the Xerox
machine, running off copies on his own and distributing them to his team. To see things with his own eyes,
His Majesty once walked through raw sewage ignoring sores on his feet, saying that attention should be
emphasised on the inner value not on minor superficial wounds.
By the mid-1950s, His Majesty had travelled extensively to all regions of the country making personal
contact with rural people. His travels led him to every nook and cranny of the country and allowed His
Majesty to gain first-hand knowledge of the plight of the rural poor.

As part of his royal duties, His Majesty h
participated in Buddhist rituals through
the six decades of his reign.

Thanks to His Majesty, generations of t

students have received King's scholarsh
further their studies overseas. Their
contribution to national development h

Their Majesties visits to foreign countr

attracted a lot of attention, and they we
featured on the covers of newspapers an

After Cyclone Harriet struck provinces

South, His Majesty campaigned for don
through his Au Sau radio stations.

Their Majesties the King and Queen dur

their wedding ceremony in 1950.
The royal family in the mid- 1960s.

HRH the Princess Mother raised two do

earth sons who became kings of Thailan
From left to right: HM King Ananda, HR
Princess Mother, and HM King Bhumib

The athletic King is often spotted engag
outdoor activities with Her Majesty the
by his side.

While flying over Phuphan Mountain in northeastern Thailand in 1955, His Majesty noticed that although
there were plenty of heavy clouds along his flight path, they failed to bring rainfall to the arid land below.
Determined to turn nature to the benefit of his subjects, His Majesty looked into ways in which the dry areas
could be provided with more rain than that given by nature. Less than two decades later artificial rain, His
Majestys brainchild, was facilitated by technological advances.
His Majestys first water management project started in 1953 at a small village in Hua Hin district of
Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Upon realising the importance of fresh water for agriculture and public
consumption, His Majesty began construction of the Khao Tao reservoir and donated 50,000 baht out of his
own coffers to finance its construction.
In the area of education, His Majesty set up the Ananda Mahidol scholarship fund in 1955 to award
scholarships to enable outstanding students in the medical field to further their education abroad. The fund
was transformed into the Ananda Mahidol Scholarship Foundation in 1959 and the scope of the scholarship
programme was widened to cover students in science, agriculture, law, art, dentistry, veterinary science and
In his leisure time His Majesty played as hard as he worked. The young King developed a strong passion for
jazz music. Himself a saxophonist and composer, His Majesty enchanted music lovers with self-composed
songs from several genres including blues, jazz, pop and classical.

Early in his reign, the King formed a small, private music band called Lay Kram. His Majesty later expanded
his band, renamed it Au Sau Wan Suk and made his private sessions public. The band played during live
broadcasts on the palace-based Au Sau Radio Station. His Majesty sometimes answered the song requests
from callers in his audience. His Majesty and his band also staged public performances at universities and in
conjunction with various public and charitable events.
As his reign entered its second decade, His Majesty took several steps to broaden his rural development
mission. At the same time, he revived ancient rituals and strengthened diplomatic ties with nations key to
Thailands security and continued prosperity.
Their first State Visit took Their Majesties the King and Queen in 1959 to what was then South Vietnam.
These visits were followed by stops in Indonesia and Burma in early 1960.

Their Majesties with US President Eisenhower.
Their Majesties during a visit to rural Thailand.
His Majesty promoted the breeding of pla nil, which is now popular in every Thai kitchen.
For six decades, Their Majesties have traveled to every nook and cranny of Thailand.

By mid-1960, His Majesty had embarked on a

whirlwind tour of 15 nations in North America
and Europe. Between 1961 and 1967, His
Majesty visited 13 other countries in Asia,
Australia, and made similar visits to Germany,
Austria and the US.
His Majestys visits went a long way in forging
international diplomatic relationships and were
a tremendous benefit to Thailands public
image and to its international credibility.
Former foreign minister, Dr Thanat Khoman,
who travelled in His Majestys entourage,
recounted an interview His Majestys gave to
Saranrom Journal:
The underlining objective of His Majestys
state visit was to make Thailand known
internationally and to seek Western support in
countering the spread of communism that was a
threat to our national security.
More than any other period in the past, His
Majestys state visits have earned Thailand
overwhelming international recognition and
acknowledgement. His were not sightseeing
excursions, but working trips as crucial to the
countrys survival as was countering the
colonial threat that Thailand faced during the
reign of King Rama V.

CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: Overseas visits by Their Majesties greatly

enhanced Thailands public image and
international credibility.
During a trip to the North, the young Queen is shown
dressed in locall costume.
His Majesty the King pokes his head out a train window to wave
goodbye to wellwishers.
Crowds lined the streets in New York City to greet Their
Majesties the King and Queen.

As a result of His Majestys diplomatic efforts

Thailand was able to embark on significant
initiatives in the arena of foreign affairs which
included its role in helping to establish Asean.
His Majesty boosted national morale by
restoring ancient traditional rituals, like the
Royal Ploughing Ceremony. The revival of this
sacred, symbolic ritual dating back to the
Sukhothai period, was highly significant to Thai
farmers who still make up the majority of the

The year 1960 was also remembered as the year of one of Thailands worst national disasters. Thirteen
provinces in southern Thailand were devastated by a severe typhoon which ravaged the Laem Talumpuk
His Majesty raised 11 million baht in donations through his Au Sau Radio programme. Then, in 1963, His
Majesty established the Rajaprachanukroh Foundation to offer emergency help to people affected by natural

To date, the foundation has replaced 12 schools destroyed by storm-related flooding and it has granted
scholarships to the children of the neediest victims. After the tsunami disaster of December 2004, the
foundation was among the first charitable organisations to reach the young victims, many of whom lost their
parents in the disaster.
His Majesty has since expanded his palace-based experiments from fish breeding and has moved on to
explore new methods of rice cultivation and dairy farming.
As each of his experimental undertakings was in its infancy, Dr Sumet said, ``His Majesty wasnt confident
about the results he might obtain. Thus, he decided to conduct all of his research and experimentation inside
palace walls. His Majesty continued to fund his own projects and raised initial investment capital for his
dairy factory with proceeds from the sale of a music text book that he wrote and published himself.
In the agricultural arena, His Majesty ordered that research be conducted to identify varieties of rice suitable
to different weather conditions. The study yielded two different strains of rice, one suited for highland and
the other to lowland cultivation. Both have boosted productivity for rice farmers.
In 1962 His Majesty brought in a small herd of milk cows to the palace where he set up a barn for an on-site
dairy farm.
The trial farm churned out pasteurised fresh milk, powdered milk, condensed milk, ice cream and cheese
under the brand name Chitralada. The first of its kind in Thailand, the royal dairy farm became the
prototype for dairy farmers and the national dairy industry.
In 1965 fish breeding experimentation progressed further with the presentation of 25 pairs of Nile Tilapia
Linn fish to His Majesty the King by Japanese Crown Prince Akihito. Breeding of pla nil was so successful
that His Majesty handed out 10,000 pla nil fry to the public for breeding. Since then, pla nil has grown in
popularity, replacing pla mor thes as the fish of choice in Thai kitchens nationwide.
In the area of education, His Majesty initiated two scholarships the Ananda Mahidol scholarship in 1959
and The Kings Scholarship in 1965. Both aim to facilitate education for outstanding students in various
During this decade, His Majesty authored 17 new musical compositions to the great enjoyment of local and
international music fans. Four of these numbers A Love Story, Nature Waltz, The Hunter and Kinaree
Waltz are part of the highly-acclaimed Kinaree Suite written by His Majesty for the Manohra Ballet.
The Suite and four other numbers brought His Majesty international reputation as a music composer.
During a state visit to Vienna, Austria, in 1964, his musical compositions were performed in a concert by the
N.O. Tonkunstier Orchestra and received an overwhelmingly positive response from Austrian audiences.
In the first part of the programme the orchestra presented the same Johanne Strauss works that had been
performed for King Rama V during his state visit to Vienna in 1897.
The second half of the programme included His Majestys compositions: Music from the Manohra Ballet,
Falling Rain by Emmy Loose; Love at Sundown by Otto Wiener; and The Royal Marines March and The
Royal Guards March.
The following is an excerpt from a letter written by a Thai student who attended the momentous event on

October 3, 1964: Long and boisterous applause from the audience spontaneously erupted in the middle of
the Manohra suite. Spirited applause continued until His Majesty stood up to receive the honour. Lengthy
periods of applause continued through to the last piece. The audience refused to stop clapping when the
concert was over and The Royal Guards March was repeated as an encore. The encore was followed with
more applause and a standing ovation in honour of His Majesty. Outside the concert hall, huge crowds
gathered to get a glimpse of Their Majesties and exclaimed ausgezeichet, meaning superb, and wunderbar,
meaning wonderful. His Majestys music compositions were re-broadcast on radio the next day.
Two days later His Majesty was conferred with honorary membership in the worldrenowned Die Akademic
fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst (The Institute of Music and Arts of the city of Vienna). He was the first
Asian composer to receive such an honour.

This is the second of a three-part series focusing on the life and work of His Majesty the King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, the worlds longest-reigning monarch. The first part focused on the early stages of His Majestys
reign as he implemented a rural development agenda without the support of government or the private
sector. This second article demonstrates how His Majesty earned and organised the broad-based public
support he currently enjoys. The third article chronicles how His Majestys years of hard work for the
Kingdom have culminated in a wealth of experience, credibility and success.

MAIN PICTURE, ABOVE: Craning their necks for a glimpse of their king, large numbers of Thais come out to
show their support for His Majesty wherever he goes.
FAR LEFT: Their Majesties the King and Queen visit a military base during the communist insurgency.
LEFT: Hilltribe villagers present Doi Kham products to His Majesty.

OOf all the world's reigning monarchs, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
of Thailand is recognised internationally as The Working Monarch for his
life-long dedication to rural development causes.
His Majesty has logged an average of 200 working days and 7,164km of travel
per year working to break the cycle of poverty among Thailand's rural poor
and softening the impact that natural disasters have had on their lives.
That, however, doesn't mean that he works only 200 days out of each year,
Dr Sumet Tantivejkul, secretarygeneral of the Chaipattana Foundation, said.
In fact, His Majesty works 365 days a year. Whether he is travelling in rural
areas or in Bangkok, whether it is Saturday or Sunday, the King never stops
working. For the working monarch, there is no day off. His Majesty often
remarked that if those who suffer are not spared from their ordeals on
weekends, then there should be no reason for him to delay his work for the
sake of a holiday.
A touching moment between the
young King and an elderly

If work demands his full attention, it gets his full attention until he
accomplishes whatever it is he is doing.

I remember one physically demanding trip that required mountain trekking from dawn to dusk. At the end
of the exhausting journey, members of the King's entourage collapsed in their beds, myself included. But His
Majesty went straight to his study to work on what he had not finished earlier that day, without taking any
Known to be a strong walker, His Majesty has reached some of the remotest parts of Thailand on foot,
regardless of terrorist threats, rough terrain or adverse weather conditions.
Science and wisdom cannot be
separated; you need to use both.
Wisdom does not refer only to
intellect or academic skill, but also
moral intellect, or the ability to
judge right from wrong, to be farsighted,
and to be almost
enlightened to the point of seeing
into the future by the light of your
wisdom. Wisdom can light your way
through the use of reason. Wisdom,
when used properly, lets you see the
future, because you have seen the
past, and its conditions.
Considering the people's skills and
problems, you can see what the
future will hold.
MARCH 5, 1964
By reaching remote villages, His Majesty has observed firsthand different ways of living and widely varied

Having frequented these small villages, whether they were hill tribe settlements in the North or Muslim
villages in the South, His Majesty would recognise many of the people he encountered even recalling their
first names and family relationships.
During the height of communist insurgency and Southern separatist terrorism in the 1960s and '70s, His
Majesty was undaunted by danger. Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn, former chief of Permanent Royal Court Police
Officers, recalled an incident in 1979: There were two bomb explosions not far from a tent where His
Majesty was presenting a flag to village boy scouts. The fearless King continued with his speech and went on
with his scheduled village visits.
On another occasion, terrorists attacked with cannon fire a site slated for a visit by His Majesty the
following day. His Majesty went on with his schedule uninterrupted. Even where terrorism is widespread,
His Majesty has remained undeterred, showing his strong determination to pursue his public service in highrisk areas.
His Majesty wishes for the well being of all of his subjects, regardless of their ethnicity, race or religion. He
believes that once the people are better off, they will no longer have reason to create conflict.
During a trip to the North and Northeast, His Majesty was interviewed by a foreign reporter who asked how
his work to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor would help rid Thailand of the communist threat. His
Majesty said he didn't think about ridding the country of communism. He said he wanted to see his people
with fuller stomachs, said Pol Gen Vasit.
With little government support at first, His Majesty's efforts to help the rural poor began to pay off as rural
livelihoods improved noticeably in areas where his projects had been implemented.
earned more recognition. Help from government and international organisations began to pour in by the
start of the third decade of his reign. Yet, it wasn't until the second half of the fourth decade of his reign that
the King's efforts at rural development culminated in a major breakthrough. In 1981 the government
established and funded an organisation to fully support His Majesty's projects.
From the earth up to the sky, His Majesty has tried to adapt nature to fit the needs of his subjects, Dr
Sumet said, referring to His Majesty's effort to improve the lives of his subjects.
From the parched earth, he brought life. From the sky, he brought rain. After 12 gruelling years of research
and experimentation that began in 1956 during a visit to Phu Phan, Sakon Nakhon province, His Majesty's
quest to bring down more rain than that given by nature was finally realised.
On June 1, 1969, under the supervision of the late MR Debbharidh Devakul, the first cloud seeding trials
produced significant amounts of artificially stimulated rainfall in targeted areas of Pak Chong district in
Nakhon Ratchasima.
The Royal Rain-Making Research and Development Project officially offered artificial rain services to the
farmers beginning in 1971. For more than three decades, the Royal Rain operation has effectively alleviated
the harshest effects of the dry season. His Majesty the King remains actively involved in the operation of the
project up to the present day

For Thai farmers, the Royal Rain provides a significant benefit that people in many other countries do not
receive, even those in countries with more highly developed technological bases, observed Dr Sumet.
Likely, cost is a factor in other nations. But here in Thailand the Royal Rain from the King is provided to the
people free of charge.
Several of the more complex problems faced by Thai society require more than a straight forward charitable
solution. His Majesty the King approaches every issue with wisdom and sensitivity, especially if cultural,
ethnic or religious minorities are involved.
I don't wish to see anybody
succumb to anybody else. I am for
democracy. But we must create
genuine and appropriate
democracy. Democracy without
wisdom will turn into chaos. And
that chaos will develop into anarchy
... we must respect the dignity of
humans, the dignity of individuals.
We should think of how to promote
people's dignity. DECEMBER 15, 1970
His Majesty's subtle approach won the hearts of minority groups in Northern Thailand so much that he was
able to lead the people and the government to a solution to the problem of opium production.
By listening attentively to their problems and offering them a better solution, His Majesty was able to
convince the hill tribes to abandon their generations-long tradition of poppy cultivation and slash-and-burn
agriculture and to adopt instead the cultivation of temperate-zone cash crops under the King's Royal Project.
As a consequence, the severely-denuded Northern forests have been restored and opium production in
Northern Thailand has come to a complete halt. Most importantly, the King's alternative cash crops for the
hill tribes actually have provided higher income and enhanced living standards.
We are so happy to be finally able to lead peaceful lives. It's the best thing that ever happened to us, said
Tong Sae Li, headman of Ban Khunklang, a Hmong village on Doi Inthanon, who still vividly remembers an
era of constant military crackdowns meant to eradicate opium cultivation. His Majesty the King made it
possible for the hill tribe people to live peacefully, he said.
According to HSH Prince Bhisatej Rajani, director of the Royal Project Foundation, His Majesty the King's
discussions with the Hmong villagers in 1969 led to the discovery that locals grew apricots as well as opium
to earn income. He then asked researchers to help improve the quality and size of the apricots so that the
villagers could get better prices for them.
The King set up a fund at Kasetsart University to study other possible crop substitutions for the hill people.
Funding from state agencies and foreign sources followed as it became evident that the King's approach was
effective in eliminating opium cultivation in the North.
With technical assistance from the Royal Project, hill tribes have become expert cultivators of temperate-

zone vegetables like baby carrots, leeks, sugar peas, zucchini and sweet peppers as well as herbs like
rosemary and oregano, flowers like red roses, chrysanthemum, gladiolus, gypsophila and aster, and fruits
like strawberries, pears and peaches crops their forefathers never heard of.
We now earn a reasonable living, Grai Sae Waa, a Hmong farmer from Ban Mai Khunklang, said. We have
enough to eat and spend on what we need. We also feel life is more secure now that we no longer have to
worry about crackdowns and forced eviction by the authorities.
The illegal supply of opium that once equalled 150 tonnes a year in northern Thailand was eventually
reduced by 85 per cent.
Royal Project-initiated agricultural produce is marketed under the Doi Kham brand name, and has won
customer confidence for its high quality.
The key to the success of the Royal Project lies in the working strategies given by His Majesty the King,

His Majesty was keen on sailing and crafting boats.
HM the King and his daughter, Princess Ubolratana, won a SEA Games gold medal in 1967.
His Majestys hand-drawn chart for rain-making.
The demonstration rice mill was set up in Chitrlada
Palace in 1971.
Student leaders of the October 14 uprising have an audience with His Majesty.

Prince Bhisatej. They focus on obtaining knowledge through research, avoiding bureaucratic entanglements
and acting fast to respond to the villagers' needs while assisting them to become self-reliant.

The Project now has four research stations and 35 Royal Project Development centres, covering 295 villages
and 14,109 households comprising 85,000 people in the hilly terrain of northern Thailand.
During his extensive travels throughout rural Thailand, His Majesty encountered a great deal of suffering
resulting from inadequate or inaccessible heath care and public health education. In 1967, His Majesty set up
the Royal Medical Unit manned by the King's personal physicians and a team of volunteer medical
professionals to offer free health care to the rural poor. Additional Royal units travelled the country
delivering urgently needed health-related services.
With over six months of the year being spent in rural areas, His Majesty still found time for Bangkok-based
projects. In addition to his fish pond and dairy farm, His Majesty set aside a plot of land in the palace
compound for a model rice mill. With an initial investment of 50,000 baht, the demonstration rice mill
displayed how farmers could earn more by joining forces to own and operate communal rice mills.
His Majesty's rice mill employs an environmentally friendly process which recycles husk residues from the
mill. Husks are processed as organic fertiliser, solid fuel and as feed for cattle and fish.
In 1973, His Majesty took an unprecedented stance in the political realm. Street violence erupted on October
14 after the military-led government brutally crushed demonstrations by unarmed students calling for
democratic reforms. The crisis quickly evolved into one of the bloodiest political crises in Thailand's history.
Before the violence was aggravated any further, His Majesty stepped in and brought the crisis to an abrupt
end. Albeit outside the realm of his duties as set down in Thai law, His Majesty's ability to dissipate a
national crisis of such magnitude is a unique political phenomenon.
Our monarchy is quite distinctive from those in other countries. In one dimension it is an institution that
stays above politics. Yet, in a spiritual dimension, the monarchy is a persuasive force that is more effective
than the law itself. Apparently, as a constitutional monarch, His Majesty has no duty or power to relieve
political gridlocks. But in crises when all existing systems are paralysed and fail to function properly, only
His Majesty can promptly restore harmony to society, Dr Sumet said.
His Majesty once again played an extraordinary role in Thai politics during the Black May street violence
in 1992, when his intervention brought bloodshed to a complete halt.

HRH Crown Prince
Vajiralongkorn on
a tractor with his
father at the
demonstration rice
field in Chitralada
Their Majesties the
King and the
Queen inspect a
project at the Huay
Hong Krai Royal
Study Centre in
Chiang Mai.
His Majesty
traveled across
rugged terrain in
the North to gain
insight into the
problem of poppy
production by
hilltribe villagers.
A computer
graphic made by
His Majesty
showing rainmaking procedure.
On a boat, during a
Royal visit to the

Heavy development of advanced

and more efficient machinery
creates joblessness because people
are robbed of their jobs by machines
... therefore we should think of tools
and plans that are easy and
practical, making the most of the
energy and other resources
available in our country. Such plans
may not look glamorous or modern
and give not as much in terms of
yield, yet the produce obtained
would be enough for consumption.
More than that, most people will

have jobs and be able to earn the

decent living they wish for.
OCTOBER 18, 1975
His Majesty's role has gone beyond rural development and politics. His sportsmanship and craftsmanship
put his name in international record books in 1967 when, at the age of 40, His Majesty won a gold medal
together with HRH Princess Ubolratana in the SEA Games sailing tournament in a dinghy he designed and
built. The nation celebrated the sight of their King and Princess standing on the medallists' podium to
receive the SEA Games' gold medal.
As a child, His Majesty built toy ships from discarded wood and sailed them. He combined his boat building
and sailing abilities to make himself a unique sportsman. Altogether, His Majesty has designed eight
dinghies, all falling within the International OK and Moth classes, but designed especially to be compatible
with the smaller stature of Thai sailors. His Majesty designed his first dinghy, Rajptan, in 1964, followed by
Navaruek, Veca 1, Veca 2 and Veca 3 in the OK Class. In the Moth class he designed The Mod, Super Mod
and Micro Mod. He also designed Mok, a hybrid between Moth and the OK classes.
His Majesty's Super Mod was selected for the 4th South East Asian Peninsular Games in 1967 and again for
13th South East Asian Games in 1985. His Majesty holds a design patent in the UK for The Mod. By
designing and granting the right to produce dinghies which are both compatible and affordable for local
sailors, His Majesty has promoted sailing as a popular sport in Thailand.
Because of his extensive commitments to the promotion of rural economic development, His Majesty
completed only two musical compositions during his third decade. The first one, written in 1966, was
composed for Kasetsart University. Another highly-acclaimed piece, Kwam Fan An Soong Sud, was
composed in 1971. A patriotic poem turned into a song, the piece was highly acclaimed.
Before dealing with a new problem, His Majesty visualises the situation he is facing and the changes that he
would like to make, Dr Sumet explained. Then he gathers information, analyses it and distils the
information into a list of important facts.
Most importantly, before any of his new initiatives are launched, His Majesty holds public hearings by
inviting those who have a stake in the project to voice their opinions and differences.
If the consensus from a public hearing is against the proposed project, His Majesty will not press the matter
further. His Majesty's process is quite democratic. He is open to hearing opinions. Whether they are
positive or negative, he is ready to accept them.

LEFT TO RIGHT: The first rice bank, initiated by His Majesty.

The Cow and Buffalo Bank was initiated by His Majesty in 1979.
This fruitful papaya tree and the farmers big smile attest to the success of the first Living Museum at Khao Hin Sorn.
During street violence in May 1983, His Majesty successfully convinced Gen Suchinda Kraprayoon and Maj Gen Chamlong
Srimuang to end their confrontation for the sake of public peace and harmony.

In 1979, after decades of wisdom accumulated through trial and error, His Majesty moved his experimental
projects off the palace grounds and set up a new research and development centre at Khao Hin Sorn in
Phanom Sarakham district, Chachoengsao province. The centre, located on 300 hectares of land, suffered
from severe soil degradation caused by deforestation, years of corn and cassava cultivation and topsoil
Hence the centre focused its attention first on developing methods to improve soil fertility, water resource
management, forest rehabilitation, crop cultivation planning and animal husbandry.
There are three things that can be
provided by our forests: firewood,
fruit and wood for building houses.
People both highlanders and
lowlanders have knowledge
about these things. They've been
working for generations and have
done it well. They're clever and
know where to grow crops and
where the trees should be kept.
FEBRUARY 26, 1981

In 1981, two years after the research and development centre was established, the government founded the
Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (RDPB), which matched Royal projects with professional
and financial assistance from the appropriate agencies within the government.
An initial budget of 300 million baht eventually increased to a floating fund of one billion baht, explained
Dr Sumet. With an established coordinating organisation, His Majesty's initiated projects have increased in
number by some 50 a year.
After the establishment of the RDPB, the Royal Research and Development Centre set its sights on creating
what is now the very well known and often replicated Living Museum concept. Each Living Museum covers
the areas in a respective region where His Majesty directs projects related to reforestation, irrigation, land
development and farm technology. Villager-friendly technology which varies from region to region is
showcased and promoted.
Each museum functions as a one-stop service centre, allowing farmers to pick and choose what they think
best suits their needs and localities.
Until the Living Museum concept was introduced, the government offered similar service to farmers
regardless of the geological diversity, weather or individual needs. Worse yet, the centres were located so far
apart that distribution of new rice varieties or fish fingerlings was made almost impossible, Dr Sumet said.
His Majesty's R&D centre is the first where farmers and their entire families can all acquire useful
information and services. Agricultural support is provided. Information about income generating activities
via handicraft production is available through the SUPPORT Foundation. Even health care services are
provided: All under one roof.
Most importantly, these centres facilitate a two-way exchange of knowledge and wisdom. The farmers can
acquire modern knowledge. At the same time research officials can glean local wisdom and important data
from local farmers. Together, they develop.
The second Living Museum, called Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Centre, was set up in 1981
in Tha Mai district of Chanthaburi province. The 4,000-rai centre continues to explore agricultural methods
suitable to the coastal zone of the eastern region.
In January of the following year, the Pikul Thong Royal Development Study Centre started its operation at
Muang district in Narathiwat province. The major challenge of this third centre has been to solve the
problem of water-logged peat soil and to transform it into viable agricultural land.
Later in 1982, The Phu Phan Royal Development Study Centre was established at Huai Yang subdistrict in
Muang district, Sakon Nakhon province. Its stated goal: To introduce appropriate development and
occupational training for people in the northeastern region.
Also established around the end of 1982 was the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Centre.
Occupying 8,500 rai of land in Pa Khun Mae Kuang National Forest Reserve at Doi Saket district, Chiang
Mai, the centre has spearheaded new methods of watershed conservation, reforestation and agricultural
development in the North.
Some people say that a royal
project cannot be touched. This is a

mistaken view, or a view that is not

quite right. If a royal project cannot
be commented on, Thailand
cannot develop. A royal project is a
royal opinion..
DECEMBER 4, 1993
Their Majesties
the King and
Queen visit a
military base
during the
A worker at
Khao Hin Sorn
tends an
vegetable plot
as part of the
centres efforts
to promote
Workers tend
gardens at the
Khao Hin Son

The last of the six Living Museums was established in Cha-am district of Phetchaburi province in April 1983.
Called the Huai Sai Royal Development Study Centre, its research focuses primarily on reforestation and
cultivation of agricultural crops suitable to the needs of the southwestern section of Thailand's central
region. To help alleviate the vicious cycle of debt repayment being faced by many rural farmers, His Majesty
initiated a new and innovative system whereby loans and interest payments could be made using rice and
buffalo instead of money.
Established in 1976, at Chom Thong district of Chiang Mai, the Rice Bank received an initial rice stock from
the King. Loans of rice made during the off-season, when rice could not be grown, were repaid with interest
after the harvest the following season. Two years later, in 1979, Buffalo Bank gave similar service to farmers.
In the public health arena, His Majesty expanded the Royal Medical Team Project from mobile medical unit
to village doctor. Under this 1982 initiative, volunteers received training as village doctors.

Each volunteer was trained to provide minimal health assistance and serve as a primary point of contact
between patients and medical officials from the local health centres and provincial hospitals.
In 1976 His Majesty established the Phra Dabos Project to provide vocational education to stray and
abandoned children marginalised by mainstream society. Presently the Phra Dabos Foundation is open to
people from all walks of life and every age group.
One of the most challenging problems His Majesty has encountered was the damage to millions of
households and tremendous economic loss caused by the heavy floods that affected Bangkok in late 1970s
and early 1980s.
In 1980 His Majesty proposed a long-term project to alleviate the flooding by dredging 19 canals, 173.4km in
total, and setting up 43 pumping stations to regulate the flow of water to and from the sea.
Called Kham Ling (Monkey Cheeks), the project consists of a system of canals excavated along the coastal
areas to the west and the east of the Chao Phraya River. The canals serve as storage reservoirs and drain
floodwaters away using the power of gravity and tidal flow.
A budget of 375 million baht was approved in 1983 for the implementation of the King's plan.
In addition to the Bangkok region, the Kaem Ling Project presently covers the Nong Yai Area Development
Project (Nong Yai-Natural Kaem Ling) in Chumphon province and the Project to Relieve Food Problems in
the Khlong U Ta Phao Basin in Hat Yai, Songkhla province.

This is the final of a three-part series focusing on the life and work of His Majesty the King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, the worlds longest-reigning monarch. The first part focused on the early stages of His Majestys
reign as he implemented a rural development agenda without the support of government or the private
sector. The second article demonstrated how His Majesty earned and organised the broad-based public
support he currently enjoys. This third article chronicles how His Majestys years of hard work for the
Kingdom have culminated in a wealth of experience, credibility and success.


His Majesty braves the elements whenever help is needed.
Once a street dog, Thong Daeng was adopted by His Majesty to be a royal pet.
Kofi Annan presents His Majesty with the first UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award.

When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej of Thailand with
the first UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award two weeks ago, he said, "If human
development is about putting people first, there can be no better advocate for it than His Majesty. As the

world's 'Development King', His Majesty reached out to the poorest and the most vulnerable people of
Thailand, listened to their problems, and empowered them to take their lives into their own hands," said Mr
His words could not have rung more true. For six decades, not a single day has passed in which the Thai
people have not felt His Majestys dedication to the poor, the vulnerable, the sick, the young, the aged and
those faceless people on the street, and this affectionate bond between the 79- year-old King and his 62
million subjects grows stronger every day.
His Majesty the King is overwhelmingly admired not only as a sovereign but as a saviour whose dedication
has maintained national stability, given the nation dignity in the eyes of the world and improved the
livelihoods of the poor, ethnic minorities, and others who have been marginalised by mainstream society.
Be they rural or urban, literate or illiterate, young or old, the King's subjects all express their affection for
their sovereign in one way or another. Some enshrine the King's portrait on an altar. Others show their
support by wearing a Tong Daeng T-shirt (Tong Daeng is His Majesty's favourite dog) or a We Love Our
King wristband.
Products like books, T-shirts and wristbands that have been sold to raise money for the King's charities have
become bestsellers. The phenomenon only reconfirms the enduring and ever-increasing popularity of the
"Father of the Nation" among his people.
"The public has strong faith in His Majesty because he is a giver," Dr Sumet Tantivejkul, secretary-general of
the Chaipattana Foundation, explained. "Throughout his hardworking life, His Majesty has done all he could
do for the people without asking anything in return. If a problem arose in the country, His Majesty would not
be reluctant to work for a solution whether it is human, social, political or scientific. He would do it all, as
long as it relates to his country."
Perhaps what makes this great King larger than life is his down-to-earth disposition. Those who have been to
the King's residential palaces have often expressed their awe over his physical surroundings. What impresses
them is not the grandeur or extravagance but the simplicity of the spaces he inhabits.
Rather than adding to the glamour of Chitralada Palace, His Majesty added a fish pool, a rice mill and a dairy
farm. Rather than ordering the construction of a fancy garden at Klaikangwol Palace in Hua Hin, His
Majesty permits students from Klaikangwol School to grow vegetables in the flowerbeds. Instead of raising a
canine with a foreign pedigree, His Majesty adopted a street dog.
"In his lofty status, His Majesty can afford anything he desires, but he chooses to live a simple and frugal
life," said ML Usni Pramoj, a privy councillor. "There is nothing luxurious in his palace. How he lives and
eats are as simple as you and I live or eat. Nothing exquisite. Nothing excessive. There has never been a time
that I have seen the King indulge himself in needless luxury. Actually, a lot of rich men these days live a far
more lavish lifestyle than does our King."
His Majesty's simple lifestyle, Dr Sumet said, epitomises the notion that those who have attained the zenith
of wisdom have fewer material needs in life. "Yet, what is abundant for them is virtue. But then a good man
without wisdom might not be able to contribute as much."
His Majesty's virtue and wisdom have helped to create a vision for rural development that has saved millions
of people from misery and the country from numerable crises.
During the fifth and sixth decades of his reign, His Majesty the King has crystallised his philosophy of

effective development. New, revolutionary concepts referred to as New Theory and the Theory of Self
Sufficiency have been hailed as solutions to the country's economic problems.
By the beginning of the fifth decade of His Majesty's reign, older established projects had progressed by
leaps and bounds and hundreds of new initiatives were being launched each year in conjunction with the
Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (RDPB).
With RDPB assistance in coordinating the involvement of the appropriate government agencies, His
Majesty's visualisations have been made reality. The intense and directed activity has had a tremendous
effect on rural development. Still, as a government agency, the RDPB is restricted by bureaucratic rules and
regulations that leave little flexibility in budgetary allocation and in providing aid in times of emergency.
"In order to fix this shortcoming, His Majesty established a non-governmental organisation to support the
RDPB, particularly with governmental projects that are bound by rules and regulations, which may delay
their timely implementation," Dr Sumet said.
The NGO, called the Chaipattana Foundation, meaning the "Victory of Development", was established in
1988 to coincide with the celebration of His Majesty the King's term as the longest reigning monarch in Thai
history two years longer than King Chulalongkorn's 41 years spent on the throne.
His Majesty the King took command as foundation president and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
was appointed as executive chairperson. From its inception, the Chaipattana Foundation has served society
by providing dynamic, innovative and prompt action in response to the urgent needs of the public.
Located in Huai Bong subdistrict of Saraburi province, the foundations first agricultural mission centre has
allowed officials and farmers to work together to solve problems of agricultural development.
The Chaipattana aerator created by His Majesty the King was launched via the foundation as well. The lowcost, locally made Chaipattana aerator oxygenates stagnant water, making it habitable for living creatures. In
1989, the first model of the oxygen-enhancing aerator was installed for trial at Phra Mongkutklao Hospital
and Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara.
The aerator has been continually improved and refined. At present, nine models have been developed. One
of them, the Chaipattana Aerator Model RX-2, was patented under His Majesty's name in 1993. His
Majesty's brainchild, the Chaipattana aerator is lauded for its innovative design, minimum technological
investment and provision of maximum oxygenation to polluted water.
His Majesty does not, however, laud technology as the solution to every problem. In fact, modern technology
is often his last resort.
"Rather than seek a technologically-based solution, His Majesty would prefer to give priority to the
application of local wisdom to solve a problem while incurring relatively little cost," Dr Sumet said.

rns up to mark the Kanjanapisek Golden Jubilee in 1996.
e up with the idea of using vetiver grass to prevent soil erosion.
buy Thong Daeng books and t-shirts.

Majesty speaks to
officials about
His Majesty is an
expert on Thailands
geography and
His Majestys
knowledge is vast.
An inspection of
Klong Makkasan.
His Majesty examines
a model of the
elevated road over
Borom Ratchonnanee
Road in Taling Chan.
Developing solutions
to the problem of
flooding in Bangkok.

"His Majesty's solution to the problem of soil erosion is a perfect example of this. Where technocrats would
have employed heavy equipment such as tractors to construct erosion-preventing borders for terraced rice
fields, His Majesty grew vetiver grass. Tractors are a costly technology. They consume oil and waste the
limited resources of the farmers. Vetiver grass is grown naturally and costs almost nothing."
The use of vetiver as a "living wall" to prevent soil erosion was tested in Pa Hadtsai Yai in Pran Buri,
Prachuap Khiri Khan province. The grass has proved to be cost effective and soil enriching. Easily grown,
vetiver grass reduces the speed of water runoff, traps silt and prevents gully erosion. It also prevents waterborne soil and toxic substances from flowing into the groundwater.
His Majesty's use of vetiver grass for soil and water conservation earned him prestigious awards in 1993
from the International Erosion Control Association (IECA) and from the World Bank.
According to Dr Sumet, His Majesty believes in empowering people so that they can stand on their own two
feet. His Majesty calls this process of empowerment "a burst from within". Community is strengthened,
given the capacity to select appropriate mechanisms for change, while holding on to time tested and useful
methods for surviving and prospering.
"Let them grow, said Dr Sumet of His Majestys vision. Wait until they are well prepared to take the next
step of development. If one throws anything into their community money, road access or technology too
much and too soon, the process of steady progress will be interrupted or spoiled completely. Villagers who

have never seen a huge amount of money will use it on superfluous endeavours until they are left with
While others start by setting up a hypothesis a theory that they assume and start working to the final
solution "His Majesty works the other way around, said Dr Sumet. With profound experiences made
through trial and error, His Majesty gathers information first and then analyses, synthesizes and crystallises
it into a theory that is effective."
His Majesty has revolutionised a new approach to development crystallised from nearly 50 years of
experience actively engaged in development practice. He calls it the "The New Theory". He delivered a
comprehensive definition of his concept to the Cabinet, government officials and the public in his 1994
birthday address. In it, he outlined a three-part agricultural plan designed to serve as a guideline for farmers
to achieve self sufficiency.
The first stage operates at the individual level. Here, His Majesty stresses income diversification through
division of each individual family plot to support a variety of economic activities. The ratio of 30:30:30:10
represents the rough proportions of land that should be allocated for a pond, a rice field, fruit and vegetable
patches, and housing, animals' quarters and other purposes, respectively.
The nature of this numeric recipe shows His Majesty's inventiveness. Rather than being an inflexible set of
instructions to follow verbatim, the 30:30:30:10 prescription takes the form of an adaptable strategy for
farm and household management. Whereas cash crop farmers generally get paid only once or at most twice a
year when they sell their produce to the market, farmers applying the New Theory can draw on diverse
sources of income, with money coming in more frequently as different crops mature.
Also, he proposed a three-tiered irrigation system that utilises individual ponds, a community reservoir and
a larger basin. These small and medium-scale water storage facilities act as "rain water regulators". When
the water level drops too low in one of the water collection facilities, it is replenished from the next one up
through extensive pipeline systems.
The next two stages of the New Theory scheme reflect His Majesty's holistic thinking. After each individual is
empowered, His Majesty advocates shifting focus to the strengthening of the entire community and then to
collaboration with sectors outside the community. The second phase proposes that farmers form themselves
into groups or cooperatives to help one another in the areas of production, marketing, education, social
welfare and development and religion.
The third and last stage envisions fair and equal partnerships between the private sector and the community.
The King is hopeful that farmers, with their collective bargaining power, will no longer suffer from price
manipulation when selling their produce or buying the consumer products they need.
Most farmers who have adopted His Majesty's New Theory approach of farming have experienced a significant improvement in their livelihood and financial security.
"Now I have fewer expenses, since most of what I eat comes from my own farm. I have to buy fish sauce, salt
and a couple of other things I can't make myself, but that is all," Jantaphoon Sipamai, a farmer in Kalasin,
said. Others expressed their gratitude not only for a new-found wealth but for a life philosophy as well.
Self-sufficiency is not just a matter of having enough to eat. According to farmer Wiboon Khemchalerm,
when farmers become clear-headed, they often acquire a better insight into their own lives. He describes this
process as sammaditthi( right understanding). Called the Eightfold Noble Path in Buddhism, it is a key
element leading to the end of suffering.

"I think the main obstacle obstructing 'development' is that we run after desires all the time," Wiboon said.
"We've been led to believe that life will become perfect if only we possess this and that. But in reality, it's
never so."
Sawai Panyoyai, a Chiang Mai farmer who has switched to growing pesticide-free vegetables, explains that he
may be making less money than before, but his family and community now enjoy better health and a more
peaceful way of life.
"Before, my wife had to see the doctor every year," said Sawai. "Now things are much better, and our
community no longer suffers from the effects of toxic residues. Our lives are much happier and more secure."
In the field of education, His Majesty revolutionised learning by bringing the classroom to the living room.
By broadcasting teachers live on television, His Majesty has exposed more than two million people to
distance learning education. The Distance Learning Foundation, launched on his birthday on December 5,
1995, now reaches 2,700 schools in Bangkok, and over 3,000 schools nationwide. It also reaches an
additional two million people from neighbouring Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam.

The New Theory focuses on self-sufficiency for farmers.
When drought hit vast areas of the country in 2005, His Majesty personally commanded rain-making operations.
Sustenance in ones own backyard is the philosophy behind the New Theory.
The Kings Rajaprajanugroh Foundation reached out to the victims of the tsunami.

In 1993, His Majesty's translation of A Man Called Intrepid by

William Stevenson was published under the Thai title Nai Indra
Phu Pid Thong Luang Phra.

His Majesty the King has explored every nook and

cranny of Thailand in order to gain
understanding of the countrys needs.

After a 15-year hiatus from musical composition that began in

1979, His Majesty wrote two more pieces in December 1994.
The last of his 48 compositions, Menu Kai, was written in
honour of the 72nd birthday of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana
on May 6, 1995.


The sixth decade of His Majesty's reign began with the unexpected and dramatic collapse of the economy
following a rapid devaluation of the baht. Millions of Thais lost their jobs. Others were heavily indebted. The
illusory affluent society crashed and hit rock bottom.
When the King first unveiled the comprehensive New Theory during his birthday speeches in 1994 and 1995,
most listeners tended to interpret it superficially as a presentation of ideas suited only to assist backward
In the midst of the ongoing economic crisis, His Majesty's concepts seemed to be getting wider publicity,
though not necessarily understanding.
Both the New Theory and self-sufficiency theory became instant buzzwords following his royal speeches in
1997 and 1998. Demonstration plots adorned with ponds that were precisely uniform in size and shape
materialised nationwide as showcases of royaldevised farming techniques.
Millions of baht in funding, much of it borrowed from overseas, were donated in an attempt to translate the
King's ideas into action. Politicians immediately incorporated the buzzwords "self reliance" and
"sustainability" into their campaign platforms. In academic and business circles there was enthusiastic
debate about a self-sufficient economy. Advertising campaigns on television and radio blared messages
about the new approach to farming and managing the economy. In an article entitled "Selfsufficiency and
Sustainable Development", Professor Saneh Chamarik emphasised the need to evaluate the concept of
selfsufficiency from a holistic and integrated perspective.
"Shall we think about this self-sufficient economy as just another technique an ad hoc measure for the
times of currency devaluation, financial bankruptcy, soaring unemployment, poverty, and a host of other
social problems while waiting in belief that the economy will pick up and resume along the same path it
followed?" the well-respected scholar asked.
"Or should we seriously carry out this concept as the principle of a genuine reform leading to sustainability?
In fact, underlying the economic war we are witnessing now is a battle of ideologies."
In retrospect, His Majesty's proposals contain a succinct critique of dominant economic development
strategies. From a Buddhist perspective, His Majesty's vision provides a fresh and intriguing diagnosis of
what it was that brought Thailand to a state of crisis. Embedded in the analysis is a set of solutions that can
help to alleviate the mass suffering that has afflicted much of society.
"I have repeatedly said that striving to become a 'tiger' is not our main concern," said His Majesty on
December 4, 1997. "What's important for us is to have a decent standard of living and suffi- cient food to eat,
as well as to maintain a self-sufficient economy. The key word, 'sufficient', here implies that one should aim
at becoming self-reliant."

Basically, the New Theory with its philosophy of self-sufficiency differs from the mainstream thinking in
three fundamental ways. First, His Majesty points out that the root cause of problems has more to do with
worldviews than economic factors.
Second, the monarch's public emphasis on small-scale farming implies that restoring and maintaining the
strength of the agricultural sector is a necessary condition for reversing the current economic downturn.
And, finally, the idea of self-suffi- ciency indicates that the local community must attain a certain degree of
financial autonomy before they enter the market economy.
As he emphasised self-reliance, His Majesty also explored potential alternative energy sources. In 1986, His
Majesty set up a small refinery at Chitralada Palace to produce gasohol, a mix of petrol and methyl alcohol
produced from plant-based resources. Continuous research has been jointly carried out with the Petroleum
Authority of Thailand. Gasohol finally hit the market in 2005 at the same time as sharp rises in oil prices
were shaking the market.
Another pilot project was launched in the year 2000 to experiment with the substitution of diesel fuel with
pure palm oil at a prototype factory at Au Luek, Krabi province. The test was satisfactory and findings show
that pure palm oil could provide a viable substitute for between 1 and 1.5 tonnes of diesel fuel a day. On the
urban front, His Majesty launched several initiatives aimed at alleviating Bangkok's severe traffic problem.
Among them were planned expansions of Ratchadapisek and Ratchadamnoen Nok roads.
One of the most successful projects was the construction of an elevated highway along the
Boromratchonnanee Road, which was completed in two years (1996-1998), a record time for a project of that
scale. The upper-level road is now handling about 6,000 cars a day, while the ground-level road has a
handling capacity of between 60,000 and 70,000 cars a day.
When The Story of Mahajanaka, written by His Majesty the King, was released in 1996, it was noted that the
metaphoric messages of the story held a special and timely relevance to the recent economic downturn.
Scholars and social thinkers noted that the royal literary piece provided important guidelines for living in a
society seemingly driven by greed, anger and ignorance. The story reinforces the King's visions of selfreliance and his formula for economic self sufficiency.
The Story of Mahajanaka is based on a jataka, a Buddhist religious tale from the Holy Tripitaka. It is a story
about perseverance, one of the 10 principal virtues practised by a Bodhisattva, King Mahajanaka, and how it
brought progress and prosperity to the city of Mithila.
"Every time I read this book, I don't just see King Mahajanaka," former prime minister Anand Panyarachun
said. "I see the story as an allegory of His Majesty's life and missions. Our King has built his baramee
[charisma] through his deeds. The basis of what has led His Majesty to the right and noble path are his
patience and perseverance."
Mahajanaka's deeds, said the former prime minister, parallel His Majesty's in that both show us that fighting
obstacles, whatever they are, must begin with pure perseverance, not praying for luck or help from deities.
"His Majesty has done this every day, for his people's benefit."
The public expressed their appreciation of the King and his message by turning the book into a bestseller.
In February 2002, the public once again demonstrated its love for the monarch by rushing out to buy a Tshirt displaying a picture taken by His Majesty of his pet dog, Tong Daeng, and her litter of puppies. Public
demand for the Tong Daeng T-shirt was ignited with the release of a picture of His Majesty and members of

the royal family all wearing the shirt as they accompanied His Majesty home from Siriraj Hospital after
undergoing prostate surgery. Ten months after the T-shirt was launched, the Tong Daeng polo shirt broke all
sales records as 300,000 were sold almost overnight.
Apparently, the fact that His Majesty adopted a humble stray puppy as the royal pet dog touched the heart of
the general public so much that when His Majesty wrote a book called The Story of Tong Daeng, late in
2002, it once again became a best-selling item with 200,000 copies of the animated version being sold in a
single day.
In the book, His Majesty praises Tong Daeng's traits of gratefulness and respectfulness as "different from
many others who, after having become important personalities, might treat with contempt someone of lower
status who, in fact, should be the object of gratitude."
By adopting Tong Daeng, a puppy born in the street near the Medical Development Centre Clinic in
Bangkok's Wang Thonglang district, His Majesty showed that with a little help, stray dogs can be taught all
the commendable qualities one could expect from any pet.
"Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners, as if they are grateful
for the kindness they receive. Moreover, they are not inferior to imported dogs in intelligence. Some are
attractive or have a distinctive smart look, like Tong Daeng," he wrote.
The King added that if the authorities helped, more people would be willing to adopt the numerous strays
roaming the country. In 2004, marathon cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has seven Tour de France wins under
his belt despite being a cancer victim, began wearing a yellow wristband as part of his "Live Strong" cancer
awareness campaign. Knock-off copies of the wrist bands started to appear in Thailand almost immediately
as fashion accessories and to support various campaigns. The bestseller by far in Thailand have the words
"We Love Our King" printed on it. One million wristbands benefiting the King's charity sold out almost
immediately, raising a record 100 million baht within a few weeks.
Although in his late seventies, His Majesty is far from retiring from his commitment to help his subjects.
According to Dr Sumet, with the help of modern technology, His Majesty still closely monitors over 3,000
projects administered under the Royal Development Project Board and keeps tabs on situations that might
affect the well being of the general public.
His Majesty's contributions over the six decades of his reign go far beyond what would be required of any
monarch. His Rajaprachanukroh Foundation was among the first organisations to reach the 2004 tsunami
victims, especially orphaned children. When the drought devastated farmlands in 2005, His Majesty took
command of rain-making operations and greatly alleviated the effects of the drought.
This year, following the disasterous floods in the North, His Majesty's Rajaprachanukroh Foundation has, in
addition to providing other immediate relief, taken in young orphans who lost their parents in the tragedy.
The meaning of the name Mahajanaka is "Great Father". Like the main character in The Story of
Mahajanaka, said Dr Prawase, "His Majesty is the great father of the Thai people."

His Majestys vision in rural development has steered government officials in the right direction.
HM the Kings Chaipattana Aerator effectively alleviates water pollution at a low cost.
Despite his royal status, His Majesty sets a good example for others with his plain clothing and camera that he
uses for work.

His Majesty the King takes Tongdaeng for a walk around the Suwannachat therapeutic swimming pool at Kasetsart
University for the opening of the pool.

The literary works of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej provide a

fascinating look into his values and philosophies in much the same way
that his Living Museums reflect his vision for technological innovation
and rural development.
The Story of Mahajanaka (1996) and The Story of Tongdaeng (2002)
extol the virtues of gratitude and perseverance and in doing so have
provided inspiration to millions.
The Story of Mahajanaka was released at a time when the Thai economy
was hard hit by crisis. It is hailed for the spiritual consolation it offered to
Kingdom and its people during exceedingly difficult times.

Tongdaeng was presented to His

Majesty when she was five weeks old.

well-meaning people."

Originally translated into English by His Majesty from the Holy

Tripitaka, the story celebrates the value of perseverance as demonstrated
by the protagonist, King Mahajanaka. Thai scholars and social thinkers
point out that the book is the perfect allegory for the Kings oft-repeated
emphasis on the values of self-reliance, wisdom, and virtue as guidelines
for living. Indeed, in the preface of the book, His Majesty expresses his
desire that it serve as an object of constructive contemplation for all

Released five years later in 2002, The Story of Tongdaeng, a humble stray dog-cum-royal pet, received
overwhelming public response. His Majestys affectionate descriptions of the canine, his characteristics and
those of its mother and puppies provided inspiration to a Thai society fraught with conflicts arising from
ever widening disparities in economic and social status.
A shipwrecked man swims in the ocean with no shore in sight. Suddenly a giant sea crab rises underneath
him and keeps him afloat. A mango tree is stripped bare and uprooted by greedy people in a vice-ridden city
Mahajanaka is a parable reflecting His Majesty's visions for a nation and its people.
The Tale of Prince Mahajanaka Swimming in the Ocean: When the ship that Prince Mahajanaka
was on foundered in a storm, the prince filled his stomach with a mixture of butter and sugar, wrapped
himself in an oil-soaked cloth then leapt into the sea. Although he couldn't see the shore, he swam for seven
days until the goddess Mani Mekhala rescued him.
The image of the determined young prince braving the ocean, which
dominates the first half of the story, reflects the Buddhist virtues of
selfreliance and perseverance.
When the ship broke apart, the 700 merchants on board cried and wailed,
and invoked and exhorted the gods for help. But all of them died.
Mahajanaka didn't ask for the gods' assistance, he helped himself,'' social
commentator Dr Prawase Wasi points out.

Goddess Mani
Mekhala asks
what is the use
of persevering if
it would result
in death in this
painting by
Pichai Nirand.

It is clear the first virtue represented here is self-reliance, a quality so

lacking in our society. We lean on civil servants, businessmen, high
authority, and so on. Lately we have been leaning on foreign loans,'' he says. If we lean on others, we cannot
know if or when they will withdraw their help, or whether the helpers will take advantage of our

Earlier in the story, Prince Mahajanaka demonstrates self-reliant behaviour by rejecting his mother's offer to
fund an army to reclaim his father's throne, says businessman Sophon Suphapong. He accepted only half of
her jewels as capital to set sail to Suvarnabhumi to generate his own funds. Besides allowing for
independence, self-reliance also fosters self-esteem, adds Mr Suphapong.
When people are able to help themselves, they will develop pride and strength. They will not take advantage
of others. Self reliance instills this,'' he says.
The second virtue represented by the tale is perseverance. "Most people, when they don't see the shore, or
goal, will stop trying,'' says Dr Prawase. "The problems faced now by humanity are so immense, like an
ocean, that it's hard to see how to solve them. So people stop trying. They sink into hopelessness. This
happens to people all over the world.''
Prawase believes that His Majesty places great emphasis on perseverance because Thai people tend to be
lacking in this quality. "Thai society in the older days was so fertile and resource rich; people lacked the
culture of producing of creating. They just plucked and consumed,'' he observed. "Things have changed,
and we now need a culture of diligence and creativity.
For perseverance to lead to success, the motive must be pure. This means persevering altruistically. For
example, if one persists in studying, one must do so for the sake of educating oneself, not to gain status or
image. If the latter is the case, perseverance will only lead to suffering,'' Professor Sumon Amornvivat adds.
"True perseverance must be a reduction of, or complete freedom from, kilesa [impurities].'' Such diligence
must also be governed by sati, or mindfulness and clear vision, she adds. "Before leaping from his sinking
ship, Prince Mahajanaka ate his fill of a mixture of sugar and butter. He wrapped his body tightly in oilsoaked cloth, then climbed up the mast and headed in the direction of Mithila. This is acting with
mindfulness and a clear goal, says Professor Sumon.
The Tale of the Uprooted Mango Tree of Mithila: One day King Mahajanaka visited the Royal Park
where he tasted the sweet fruit of a mango tree. When he passed by the tree later, he found it had been
plundered and uprooted by greedy people scrambling for its delicious fruit. Another mango tree nearby was
barren, so it was ignored and thus safe from danger.
The tale of the uprooted mango tree, with its vivid depiction of a chaotic society in which pleasures of the
flesh reign supreme, proves highly thought provoking.
Looking at this city, you'll see confusion and chaos.
People are taking obscene photos of a woman. Others are taking drugs. The environment is abused. People
are dumping garbage into the river, and utilize modern technology to pull down a mango tree to get at its
fruit,'' says Dr Prawase. "This is truly a society driven by greed, anger and ignorance, a society in crisis. This
reflects both the present Thai society and the global one. Both are suffering from confusion and problems at
all levels social, economic and spiritual.'' The mango tree and its fruit serve as an ideal allegory for the
mishandling of material gains and natural resources. "The root problems besetting the city of Mithila, greed,
anger and ignorance, are the same ones that bring the mango tree down,'' observes former prime minister
Anand Panyarachun.
"Many Thais have been greedy wanting everything they see. Seeing the forest, they want the wood. Seeing
water resources, they want to exploit them all without moderation and reason. Such greed and shortsightedness are factors that bring our society down.

The fate of the mango tree suggests that good things are always coveted by many. "Everyone struggles to gain
position or wealth, without realizing that they should instead be striving to do good deeds, to be responsible,
transparent, and so on, says Mr Anand.
In the same vein, politicians themselves can be compared to the fruit-laden mango tree. "Politicians must be
aware they themselves are sources of gain and power for other people,'' says Professor Sumon. "They, too,
will face flattery or harassment from others. When they can't, or won't, provide favours, they will become
targets for attack. Those in the position to allocate resources must realize if they are among foolish people,
they will be in danger.''
Approaching the tale from the social point of view, Dr Prawase observes the mango tree can be a symbol of
society in general. "If we want our economy to thrive, we must make our society good; then it will bear the
fruit of prosperity. But we are short-sighted we focus on the economy without paying attention to the
society and the environment,'' he says. "When people struggle only for economic gain, the society and the
environment are destroyed.''
Ultimately, the mango tree is a symbol used by His Majesty for development, concludes Dr Prawase. "The
uprooted mango tree represents development driven by greed,'' he says. "Mahajanaka, meanwhile, advocates
His Majesty's vision of development based on the Buddhist philosophy of self-reliance and moderation. That
His Majesty chooses to present his views through a Jataka [story of the Lord Buddha's past lives] shows his
deep respect for local wisdom and understanding of Buddhist values,'' says Dr Prawase.
Riddle of the Giant Sea Crab: Upon his return from the Royal Park, King Mahajanaka reflected on his
sevenday ordeal in the ocean, and recalled the feeling of being partially supported by a hard surface
underneath his feet. "Sometimes I felt like I was treading on the sea floor, like I was near the shore.... In fact,
it was the Giant Sea Crab,'' the king tells the Brahmin. Thinking about the uprooted mango tree and the
goddess Mani Mekhala's advice to him to set up an institute of high learning named "Pudalay
Mahavijjalaya'', King Mahajanaka decided the time had come to do so.
The linking of the mysterious marine creature to education emphasizes the importance of knowledge or
wisdom in solving problems. "For me, the sea crab represents knowledge or wisdom, a virtue which can save
one from being overwhelmed by obstacles,'' says Mr Sophon. "Prince Mahajanaka resting on the creature is
like being supported by the strength of one's knowledge.'' The term pu talay'' (sea crab) is also a play on
words, Professor Sumon points out.
According to the story, when Mahajanaka told the Brahmin he recalled being told by Mani Mekhala to set
up an educational institute called Pudalay, the Brahmin suggested the Goddess must have said Bodhiyalaya
a term which means abode of light,'' says Prof Sumon.
Why such an institution is necessary, she adds, is clear in the story. "Saddened by the fate of the mango tree,
Mahajanaka realized the utter ignorance of his people. He said: `From the Viceroy down to the elephant
mahouts and the horse handlers, and up from the horse handlers to the

King Mahajanaka is saddened by the utter ignorance of his people in this painting by Preecha Thaothong.
The giant sea crab that supported Prince Mahajanaka represents knowledge and wisdom.


Most adopted stray dogs, His Majesty insists, are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners.
Tongdaeng enjoying a swim.
Tongdaeng has shown total devotion to its royal owner.
Tongdaeng and Tonglarng.

The story of Tongdaeng

Tongdaeng, although once a stray, has many admirable traits, His Majesty the King writes in his book,
The Story of Tongdaeng.
His Majesty praises Tongdaeng's demonstrations of gratitude and respect, pointing out that they are
different from many others who, after having become an important personality, might treat with
contempt someone of lower status who, in fact, should be the object of gratitude.''
Adopted as a puppy, Tongdaeng was born on the street near the Medical Development Center Clinic in
Bangkok's Wang Thonglang district. The famous canine serves as a living example that with a little
help, stray dogs can be taught all the commendable qualities one could expect from any pet.

Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners, as if they are
grateful for this kindness. Moreover, they are not inferior to imported dogs in intelligence. Some are
attractive or have a distinctive smart look, like Tongdaeng, His Majesty writes.
With the help of the proper authorities more people would be willing to adopt the numerous strays
roaming the country, the King adds. It would help solve part of the problem of dangerous stray dogs
as well as reduce the importation of expensive luxury pets' which takes a toll on the economy of the
Tongdaeng was presented to His Majesty when she was five weeks old. As the story goes, Tongdaeng
cried during the journey to the palace.
Strangely enough, once she was presented to His Majesty, she stopped crying and crawled on to nestle
in his lap, as if entrusting her life to his care.
His Majesty remarks that Tongdaeng shares some traits with the Basenji, noted for its proud bearing,
lack of body odour and the fact that it does not bark.
She is also an intelligent dog. "Whatever the King tells her, even very softly, she understands and acts
accordingly. Once, Tongdaeng found a chicken bone left by crows in a bush in Chitralada Villa and was
chewing on it. The King saw this and said, Tongdaeng, that's not good.' She immediately spat out the
bone and ran to join the King.
Tondaeng is even capable of keeping time for her master. Sometimes, she would be sent to remind
the King of the time. Usually, after completing his exercise walk, the King would stop to chat with
those who had come to meet him and sometimes he would stay longer than he should; Tongdaeng,
who stands a distance away from the King, would approach him and begin to lick his hand repeatedly.
The King, understanding the message, would tell the people, Tongdaeng has come to remind me to
Tondaeng is quick at learning and always obeys orders. She has learned to lie on her back when the
King says: "Tongdaeng, belly up.
Once, she stopped scratching when His Majesty reminded her that he had already given powder for
her itchy stomach
Tongdaeng's loyalty to the King is unwavering. She always exhibits good manners in the King's
presence, always sits lower and never leaves his side.
"If His Majesty makes a slight movement, or even clears his throat, she would lift her eyes to check on
him.'' The loyal canine is always eager to accompany His Majesty in his car. She jumps onto the seat
beside the driver when the King opens the door and tells her to go in.
It is not surprising that Tongdaeng's attachment to the King is almost absolute. Once, the King was
kept away at functions that went on for longer than expected. Tongdaeng was not brought along on the
trip. In the King's absence, the dog fell sick.

She lost so much weight that she had to be hospitalised. After a thorough examination, the
veterinarian did not find anything wrong, and concluded that Tongdaeng was suffering from stress
because she missed the King. .
Like any good mother, Tongdaeng is a good disciplinarian.
When her pups play too roughly with the King, for example, His Majesty would say, "Tongdaeng, come
and settle things'', and she would immediately grab the puppy's leg, pulling it away, growling, and
giving it a gentle nip to teach it a lesson. She uses this technique to keep her offspring in line.
The King wrote about how some people thought Tongdaeng was going to bite her pups and tried to
stop her. But the King stopped them from interfering, knowing it was just Tongdaeng's way of
instructing her young.
The King also admires Tongdaeng for her respectful behaviour. Other dogs like jumping on his lap and
licking his face. But Tondaeng always stays lower than the King even when he pulls her up to embrace
her. Tongdaeng would quickly crouch on the floor, her ears down in a respectful manner, as if saying,
I dare not; it is not proper. To properly show her love and respect Tongdaeng often licks the King's
hand vigorously.
Tonglarng is another of the King's favourite pets.
Naturally, there is some rivalry between the two animals. They are both former strays and Tongdaeng
was presented to the King only two months before Tonglarng. Although the King writes that he loves
them equally, neither Tonglarng nor Tongdaeng is happy if they feel the King is paying too much
attention to the other.
While Tonglarng tends to bark to show displeasure, Tongdaeng will silently pout. One time, the King
gave a piece of persimmon Tongdaeng's favourite fruit to Tonglarng who does not especially like
it. Tongdaeng was upset.
"She turned her head away and remained silent and aloof even though the King called her name many
times,'' he writes. Only when the King approached her and continued to call her name several times
did she return to her normal self.

Viceroy, and especially the courtiers: All are ignorant. They lack not only the technical knowledge but also
common knowledge, i.e. common sense: They do not even know what is good for them,'' Sumon explains.
The type of learning recommended in Mahajanaka is not the traditional, classroom-oriented schooling, but
one that promotes wisdom and spiritual values like diligence and moderation.
"There is plenty of 'education' and research going on all over the world. Still, our society is facing many
crises. That is because our education is not appropriate,'' reasons Dr Prawase. This point is made in the
difference between the word vijja and vija. In his book, His Majesty has used the word vijja, and not vija,''
Dr Prawase points out. "Vija means traditional subjects like math, geography, history, et cetera. Vijja
however, is a Buddhist term, meaning the liberation from greed, anger and ignorance the lessening of
selfishness and increasing concern for others. Education these days concentrates much on disseminating

vija, ignoring the human factor, whether or not learning something has helped us towards the elimination of
kilesa [impurities], says Dr Prawase.
Echoing Dr Prawases observation, Prof Sumon points to the three terms used in connection with the name
Bodhiyalaya Mahavijjalaya: One is the Institute of Universal Learning, the second one is the Institute of
Higher Learning, and the third is the Great Wisdom Centre. These terms show how His Majesty defines true
education as a system that emphasizes both the width and depth of knowledge: both integration and
wisdom. The last term especially seems to urge those of us working in educational institutions to examine
ourselves and see whether we are giving our students 'great wisdom', or just information.
In the book's preface, His Majesty blesses readers with "pure perseverance, sharp wisdom and complete
physical health'', adds Prof Sumon. Such a blessing, she reasons, confirms that true education according to
Mahajanaka encompasses the training of the spirit, intellect and the physique. The integration of these three
elements is lacking in the country's current educational system, says Mr. Sophon. While concentrating on
giving its students knowledge, the system ignores the importance of wisdom, common sense and
conscience. "We must ponder whether we need a new type of educational institution that teaches people to
think holistically,'' says Mr. Sophon. "Otherwise our graduates won't grasp the big picture. They will judge
things only as doctors, politicians, economists and so on. This fragmented thinking may lead us to do what
we think is good but unknowingly destroys society.''
For Thai society to recover from its present slump and move forward, educational reform is needed, Dr
Prawase concludes. "Thai people, especially educators at all levels, must ask themselves what is the best
learning process, set out to find the answers, and then earnestly put them to use.
The Tale of King Mahajanaka: Upon his return from the visit to the Royal Park, King Mahajanaka had
an instant of thought in which he remembered being told by the goddess Mani Mekhala he would not "find
the path to absolute happiness without sharing the wisdom he had found in the ocean.''
While Mahajanaka's various riddles may represent His Majesty's visions for the country, many Thai scholars
point out that the story's main character may be likened to the King himself.
"Every time I read this book, I don't just see King Mahajanaka,'' says Mr Anand. "I see the story as an
allegory of His Majesty's life and missions during his reign on the throne. Our King has built his barami
[charisma] through his deeds. At the root of what has led His Majesty to the right and noble path are his
patience and perseverance,'' Mr Anand says. Mahajanaka's deeds, says the former prime minister, parallel
His Majesty's. Both show us that fighting obstacles, whatever they are, must begin with pure perseverance,
not with praying for luck or help from deities.
His Majesty has repeatedly demonstrated this for the benefit of his people, Dr Prawase adds. "Mahajanaka
in this book is His Majesty he who is the great father of the Thai people who perseveres in the face of
immense obstacles. Throughout his reign, His Majesty never stopped trying even though, like Mahajanaka,
he often is not able to see the shore. His Majesty once remarked that since he a ceded the throne, despite all
his efforts, the country has gone downhill.''
Mahajanaka chose to first help his people before leaving in search of "absolute happiness, says Dr Prawase.

Sakka Devaraja, King of the Gods, foresees the Being in the Queens womb Mahajanaka as destined for
enlightenment in this painting by Netikorn Chinya.
Mahajanaka was made into musical as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of His Majestys accession
to the throne.
A Brahmin guru meets Mahajanakas mother the Queen at the rest-house and offers her shelter in this painting
by Netikorn Chinya.

His Majesty too, has actively involved himself in helping to solve problems for his people. In a way, His
Majesty shows us that practicing dhamma can be done while doing one's worldly duty. Buddhism differs
from asceticism in that it doesn't require isolating oneself from the world. On the contrary, the Lord Buddha
made it imperative that monks must stay in touch with the community.

In 2002, Tongdaeng became an instant star. Books, t-shirts and polo shirts were the hottest items.

Given the extent of the problems now faced both by Thailand and the world, we should listen to the one
man who has spent over half a century in close contact with the reality of the people, politics, dhamma,
culture, environment, and technology.
His Majesty wrote this book in order to guide his people. We should pay attention to it and study it in order
to more fully understand it. At the moment Thai people are very confused, quarrelling, don't know where to
turn. That we lack financial resources does not mean we are without means for progress or action. We still
have social capital. Buddhism and our King, I think, are enormous assets for the Thai people,'' says Dr
Anand concludes: "Like the final words in Mahajanaka Mithila is not yet at a loss for good people! His
Majesty's message to us is simple. Since all problems originate with people, they can be solved by people,
too. Despite all the difficulties we are now facing, one should never lose hope in one's life.
FAR LEFT: The public
queued up to buy
Tongdaeng polo shirts in
a rainbow of colors; the
proceeds went to HM the
Kings charities.
LEFT: Albeit from
humble beginnings,
characteristics are noble
and dignified.

Prince Mahajanaka was the
son of King Aritthajanaka
who was killed in a battle
fought against his own
brother, Polajanaka.
Helped by the god Sakka
Devaraja, King
Aritthajanaka's pregnant
wife escaped and took
refuge in a city called

Kalachampaka where Prince Mahajanaka was born.

Mahajanaka grew strong and able. Learning of his father's demise, he vowed to claim the kingdom back from
his uncle. To raise money to set up an army, the 16-year-old prince set sail to Suvarnabhumi to trade.
Mahajanakas ship foundered in a terrible storm. While other merchants begged the gods for help, Prince
Mahajanaka kept his nerve. He filled his stomach with a mixture of butter and sugar, wrapped himself in an
oil-soaked cloth, and leapt into the sea.
With no shoreline in sight, the prince swam diligently. After seven days, the goddess Mani Mekhala appeared
hovering above him. Scornfully, she asked him why he continued to swim despite having no reason for hope.
Extolling the merit of perseverance, Mahajanaka said: "Anyone who perseveres even when faced with death,
will not be in any debt to relatives or gods or father or mother. Furthermore, people who do their duty will
enjoy ultimate peace in the future.'' Impressed with his answer, the goddess rescued him and delivered him
to the city of Mithila.
Meanwhile, King Polajanaka was on his deathbed and had requested that his successor be able to solve four
riddles. None succeeded until Prince Mahajanaka.
Having solved the riddles, he was crowned king and married King Polajanaka's daughter, Princess Sivali
Devi. One day King Mahajanaka visited the Royal Park where he tasted the sweet fruit of a mango tree.
When he passed by the tree later, he found it had been plundered and uprooted by greedy people.

Another mango tree nearby was barren, so it was ignored and thus safe from danger.
Saddened, he mused: This throne is like the tree with fruit; peaceful retirement is like the tree without fruit.
We will not be like the tree with fruit; we will be like the one without fruit.
The king set out to revive the uprooted mango tree using various methods such as culturing the seeds,
grafting and splicing. Seeing his people's greed and ignorance, the king established an institute of higher
learning, naming it Pudalay Mahavijjalaya. The Brahmin supported his idea, telling him not to worry, and
that "Mithila is not yet at a loss for good people.

His Majesty the King's successful strategies for rural development are based on a blend of modern science with
traditional wisdom

Agriculture has been and will remain the backbone of the country. His Majesty has demonstrated personal affinity for rural

AA royal visit to Khao Wong district, Kalasin province in 1992, ushered in a new era in the lives of Thailands
hard working farmers. While there, His Majesty examined rice stalks presented to him by local farmers.
Watered only by the morning dew, each stalk yielded only a grain or two of rice. Determined to better the

lives of the farmers the King began a search for new methods and technologies that would allow farmers to
be more productive and thus self reliant.
Dr Sumet Tantivejkul, His Majestys trusted aide on matters relating development for over 15 years, recalls:
His Majesty spent many hours talking to villagers. It was an untainted process of public hearing
unorganized and natural.
Working nonstop to lead the
country towards
that is both kind
to nature and the
majority of rural
A royal visit to
one of the
projects under
His Majestys
His Majesty's
insightful vision
on development
has been

The King himself elaborated this

principle in one of his speeches:
Development must respect
varying regional geography and
ways of living. We cannot impose
our ideas on the people. We can
only suggest. We must go to meet
them, find out what their needs
are, and then fully explain to them
[what can be done]. In order to
work out a programme to help
people, its necessary that you
know the people you intend to
helpthere is no short cut. One
does not know a people by merely
memorizing some research papers
prepared by research centres. You
must meet the people and like

First-hand knowledge,
accumulated in the course of His
Majestys countless trips to almost
every corner of Thailand, has shaped the principles that govern the Kings approach to rural development:
Respect the local landscape and culture. Listen to the people; let them be your teachers. Think far and wide,
but remember that the ultimate goal is the well-being of the people. Persuade, never impose. And while
pursuing material security, dont forget to strive for an inner peace of mind through spiritual purification.
These messages have been a consistent theme in the Kings numerous speeches and in the way in which he
has conducted his more than 2,000 royal development projects since taking the throne six decades ago.
His Majesty is constantly looking for the best means by which to achieve his objective, said Dr Sumet. He is
always equipped with large volumes of data and information which he meticulously studies and analyses.
Even then, he seeks out a wide range of expert opinions and advice before deciding on a course of action.
Given the diversity of geography, soil conditions, sources of water, climatic conditions, and differing human
landscapes, there exists no single formula for solving rural poverty, said the King to a group of journalists at
the Huay Hong Krai Royal Development Study Centre in Chiang Mai.
The Huay Hong Krai site is one of the six development study centres His Majesty has set up across different
regions to investigate local conditions and look for solutions to local problems. Using these centres as a base
of operations, His Majesty conducts his various experiments in reforestation, irrigation, land development
and farm technology. The goal is to identify villager-friendly know how that caters to each particular region

and restore a natural balance that will allow people to work on the land and become selfsupporting.
The King calls these research and demonstration centres Living Museums.
These centres are like natural living organisms, His Majesty explained. They actively demonstrate the
conclusions of development research and model ways that people can adapt our findings and use them to
make a living.
The first rural development study centre set up by His Majesty was in Khao Hin Son, a rugged and rocky area
in Chachoengsao's Phanom Sarakham district, east of Bangkok. It serves as a model for restoring desertified,
deforested landscapes into arable farmland.
The Huay Hong Krai Centre in Chiang Mai, meanwhile, is intended to be a model of catchment area
conservation for the North. In the South, the Pikul Thong Centre in Narathiwat focuses on the ecology of the
swampy, acidic land typical of the southernmost region.
In the Northeast, the Phu Phan Centre in Sakon Nakhon studies soil salinisation and irrigated reforestation
possibilities for the country's biggest and most drought-plagued region.
The Kung Kraben Bay Centre in Chanthaburi is devoted to the study and rehabilitation of degraded
mangrove forests and coastal waters nationwide.
The Huay Sai Centre in Phetchaburi studies the rehabilitation of devastated forests and offers strategies to
help villagers benefit from forest resources while becoming forest protectors themselves.
His Majesty's work at the Living Museums demonstrates what he considers to be the country's most urgent
priority in rural development: the restoration of ecological balance.
All six regional centres were developed on la d made barren as the result of over exploitation. Likely, this is a
royal comment on the problems created by the country's fastpaced development and the ensuing
environmental destruction. The King always begins by nurturing natural areas back to health. Only then do
the centres start offering services to surrounding villages.
Those who saw the denuded mountains at Huay Hong Krai in 1983, and compare them to the lushly covered
peaks that exist today would have no doubt that the King's development visions work.
Once parched and dead, the earth at Huay Hong Krai has returned to life after more than a decade of His
Majesty's experiments with naturally irrigated reforestation projects.
His Majesty has developed his own "middle-path" approach to land and forest restoration. Most
environmentalists advocate letting the sparse forest regenerate by itself. Most forestry officials would
recommend clearing the whole area for reforestation. The King designed his own method that incorporates
and improves on natural processes using the traditional knowledge of the hill people.
The King constructed hundreds of small, simple dams in mountain streams using bricks and earth. The
method reflects his holistic and pragmatic approach. The dams help to retain soil moisture, nurture the trees
and prevent forest fires, thus allowing the forest to regenerate more quickly.
At Huay Hong Krai, things have obviously worked the way His Majesty foresaw. With more moisture and
leaves to decompose, the barren land is gradually being covered with fresh, rich soil. The rejuvenated forest
cover also brings more rain.

The technique has also worked at the Khao Hin Son Centre in Chachoengsao province. The 1,200 rai of
neardesert, mountainous terrain was dotted by less than 100 trees when His Majesty started his healing
process. Like Huay Hong Krai, it is now lush and green.
A closer look at the Royal Development Study Centres reveals the King's scientific orientation and
commitment to giving his people tried and tested solutions.
To help the villagers identify which tree varieties might work best for forest regeneration, the areas atop the
hills are divided into different plots of mostly fast-growing indigenous trees. The green valleys, meanwhile,
are teeming with fruit trees, bamboo and other edible plants to test their compatibility with the topography
of a given region.
Mangoes, pepper vines and rattan are among the many other indigenous plants being grown in forest areas
as part of the King's experiments in agro-forestry. In His Majesty's view, if the forests are the villagers'
source of livelihood and income, they will automatically become forest guardians.
The King's rural development vision is evident in the centres' research into chemical-free and integrated
farming. This research could be considered a royal commentary on current government-supported farming
policies which seriously contaminate the soil, pollute the rivers and destroy the food chain through heavy use
of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Peace is at hand when the peoples moderate way of life is in harmony with
A Karen farmer holds some flowers he has grown as part of the Royal Projects efforts to offset deforestation
caused by single cash-crop plantations.
The once-denuded hill at Huay Hong Krai in Chiang Mai is now an island of greenery.
Frog farming helps northern farmers earn extra income.

The King's Living Museums have shown how his development conclusions can free villagers from hardship.
Prasert Talaboon of Doi Saket, is among the Huay Hong Krai centre's regular clients. He said the practical,
low-cost farm technology he has learned about at the centre has changed his life.
"Before, I was deep in debt. Now I have hope," said the 56 year-old father of two.


By listening to people's problems, His Majesty has materialized different development approaches which are
applicable to each different locality.
Capturing Her Majesty on film presenting a gift to a Karen farmer during a field trip to northern Thailand.
His Majesty's guidance over development has led millions of rural farmers out of debts and poverty.
His Majesty, accompanied by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, studies a farming plot as part of his
unrelenting attempts to give farmers low-cost, effective farm technology.

Chemical-intensive, cash-crop farming, he said, had left him penniless. The centre has shown him how to
stand on his own two feet again.
Quitting the money chase, he turned every metre of his small plot of land over to growing food for his family.
Around his house, vegetables grow amid wild grasses. The farm does not look neat, but it gives his family
enough to eat. Interestingly, the plots of mixed vegetables are free of pests. "So they're safe to eat," he said.
With training from the centre, he built a small mushroom shed and a chicken coop. What started off as
subsistence farming has now become a regular source of cash.
With reduced food expenses and a regular income, Mr Prasert soon paid off his debts. Life, he reported
happily, is stable once again.
Meanwhile, his wife Utis has joined the housewives' group at Ban Pah Pai, a nearby village, which plans to
launch a community business producing preserved garlic, mangoes and beans, with initial support from the

Huay Hong Krai centre.

Despite the economic crisis, some 100 families in the Huay Hong Krai community network have remained
relatively unaffected.
Hunger is never a problem when the villagers raise their own food. Their community business has not been
hurt either, since they only use local produce. The fact that the preserved foods are made from organic
vegetables and fruits and are free of chemical preservatives has also put them in great demand in the
His Majesty's New Theory farming system promotes maximisation of land use to allow family farms to
become self-reliant. In recognition of the importance of water resources, His Majesty devotes 30 percent of
the land to ponds or reservoirs. For food security, 30 percent goes to paddy fields. Another 30 percent goes
to fruit orchards, and vegetable and herb gardens. The remainder of the land is allocated for living quarters,
roads or other infrastructure.
According to His Majesty, the key factor that fosters sustainable development for both people and nature is
the people's own inner balance. Such a balance keeps a lid on greed while fostering contentment with a
moderate way of life. "What we should strive for is a reasonable state of well being or por khuan, por yoo,
por khin and peace for the general public," he said in one of his royal speeches.
Por khuan, por yoo, por khin roughly translated means an acceptable state of well-being with food security
and sufficient and guaranteed basic needs.
"I have repeatedly said that striving to become a 'tiger' is not our main concern," said His Majesty on
December 4, 1997. "What's important for us is to have a decent standard of living and sufficient food to eat,
as well as to maintain a self-sufficient economy. The key word, 'sufficient', here implies that one should aim
at becoming self-reliant."
"It doesn't matter if Thailand is criticised as a backward country if we are still able to maintain our peace and
self sufficiency," His Majesty pointed out in one speech on bureaucratic reform.
For over five decades, the King has trave led to just about every nook and cranny in the country to listen to
his people's grievances. Time and time again, he has heard stories of state imposition, abuse of power,
ineffective policies based on insufficient data, inter-agency rivalry and disrespect for the local people. That
has probably made him more aware than anybody of the country's need for bureaucratic reform.


Agricultural activities at the Huay Hong Krai Centre to help northern farmers.
At the Huay Hong Krai Centre, northern farmers learn to diversify agriculture activities such as growing
mushrooms to earn a living.

To this end, His Majesty uses the Living Museums as a place where government officials across different
agencies can learn how their areas of responsibility are inter-related so they can work together toward a
common goal.
TOP: A royal harvest
in a demonstration
plot initiated by His
Their Majesties the
King and the Queen
inspect a cattleraising project at
Huay Hong Krai
Royal Development
Study Centre in
Chiang Mai.
His Majesty releases
fish into Khi Canal
during a visit to
villagers in Sakon
Nakhon province.
The familiar sight of
Their Majesties the
King and the Queen
during a field trip to
demonstrate that
agriculture and
water supply are the
keys to national wellbeing.
Water is the source
of life, HM the King
repeatedly says,
hence water supply is
His Majestys major

"This is where officials can

learn to cooperate, to work
together as a team," he said.
His Majesty once used the
irrigated forest project at Huay
Hong Krai as an example to
make his point. "Before,
forestry officials were at odds
with irrigation officials. This
project, however, has taught
them that they can benefit from
irrigation work. And vice
Another speech in 1990 showed
that the King's holistic
approach is not restricted to
rural development work. "All
activities are inter-dependent.
Therefore, everyone must be
conscious of their duty to
others and assist each other."
Despite the royal guidance
being given, state agencies'
implementation often fails
because they overlook His
Majesty's directive that
development must start with
the empowerment of people.

His Majesty calls such an

empowerment process "a burst from within", meaning strengthening a community so that it can be an active
player in choosing appropriate change for itself.
Good health and a clean water supply are basic factors essential for community empowerment, stressed the
King. Next, people must have access to practical farm technology as well as information so they can cope
with rapid change.That's where the King's development centres come in , said Dr Sumet. They help
farmers gain more understanding of new methods and technology
The next two stages of the New Theory scheme reflect His Majesty's holistic approach. After each individual

is empowered, the focus shifts to the strengthening of the entire community, and then to collaboration with
the outside sectors. The second phase proposes that farmers form themselves into groups or cooperatives to
help one another in the areas of production, marketing, education, social welfare and development, and
religion. The third and last stage envisions fair and equal partnerships between the private sector and the
The King is hopeful that farmers, with their collective bargaining power, will no longer suffer from price
manipulation when selling their produce or buying the consumer products they need. To implement such a
concept, however, requires time, understanding, and perseverance. The New Theory is not at all easy to put
into practice, as the King himself often admits, and when implementing it, a flexible approach is essential.
The New Theory with its philosophy of self-sufficiency differs from the mainstream thinking in three
fundamental ways. First, His Majesty points out the root cause of most difficulty has more to do with worldview than with economic factors. Second, the monarch's public stress on the small-scale farmers implies that
restoring and maintaining the strength of the agricultural sector is a necessary condition for reversing the
current economic downturn. And, finally, the idea of self-sufficiency indicates that the local community must
attain a certain degree of financial autonomy before it can enter the market economy.
What is a King to do when his ideas or wishes are questioned? Throughout his long years of dedicating
himself to developing sustainable agriculture to better his peoples lives, HM has been known to place strong
emphasis on maintaining the natural balance.
Comments have been made in private that royal initiatives are not open for discussion or alteration. To this,
HM answered in his December 4, 1993, speech: Some people say that a royal project cannot be touched.
This is a mistaken view, or a view that is not quite right. If a royal project cannot be commented on, Thailand
cannot develop. A royal project is a royal opinion. If a royal opinion cannot be touched, it would mean that
Thailand cannot progress.
Dr Sumet added that HM does not look kindly on yes men. In fact, he has a habit of soliciting comments on
his ideas or plans. He wants his people to speak their minds as long as reason prevails. Dialogue is a
constant process. Argument occurs all the time, Dr Sumet intimated. If you are close to him, you will see
how charming he is. He constantly asks for opinions until he is satisfied with the answer.
When questions about his initiative arise, HM would try to answer and explain, or he may let the Office of
the Royal Projects Board do the explaining on his behalf. If worse comes to worst, and a project has to be
abandoned, we would abandon it, said Dr Sumet. But HM is not easily deterred, he says. He is extremely


His Majesty the King and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn inspect Makkasan Lake, Bangkok.
The Kings wish is for Living Museums to be a one-stop service for farmers.
The Thai Junior Encyclopaedia enables people to learn by themselves.
Phra Dabos School provides education for people who otherwise cant afford it.

Flash floods. Perennial droughts. Poor health or lack of education. In different regions, many poor Thais still
suffer from natural and social imbalances. Improving their living conditions requires not only physical
development work but also creative and forward-looking thinking. During the six decades of his reign, His

Majesty the King has come up with creative and practical ideas to tackle his subjects problems. The
following are highlights of some of the more than 2,000 projects initiated by His Majesty.
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony
dates back to the Sukhothai era.
The ceremony, which involves
distribution of unhusked rice to
the public, aims at uplifting the
spirit of rice farmers. It was
temporarily halted after the 1932
revolution. Realising the positive
effect the rite has on farming
communities, His Majesty the
King revived the ancient rite in
Farmers know well that spiritual
propriety is very important in farm
work. It augments peoples
morale. And if they join in spirit,
they as a group will create a really
powerful force, His Majesty said
in a 1981 speech.


His Majesty the King examines a model of the 1,250-million-baht elevated road
over Borom Ratchonnanee Road in Taling Chan.
Under a new concept of self-sufficiency, farmers are suggested to grow not only
rice but also fruits and vegetables.
Fish farming at royal development study centres provides farmers with choices, so
they can select agricultural methods that fit their needs.

In his attempt to develop rice
varieties that best suit local
conditions, His Majesty gave up a
part of his Chitralada Palace for
use as an experimental rice field.
The rice research, begun in1961, is
conducted by the Department of
Agriculture. At present lowland
and highland varieties are grown.


His Majestys countless trips to provinces around Thailand have made him understand that farmers remain
poor and indebted because the price of unhusked rice, which they sell, is much lower than the milled rice
they buy. Instead of hiring commercial rice mills to process their rice, His Majesty advocates that farmers get
together to procure communal rice mills.
With an initial investment of 50,000 baht, His Majesty set such a mill up on the Royal Palace compound as
an example. The model mill demonstrates His Majestys care for the environment. Residues from the mill
are recycled. Parts of the husks are mixed with cattle manure to make organic fertiliser. The remaining
amount is pressed into solid fuel. Rice bran, meanwhile, is mixed to make feed for cattle and fish.

A visitor to Chitralada Palace once commented that it may be the only kings residence in the world to be
adorned with fish ponds, demonstration rice fields, a cattle barn, a rice mill and several small factories.
Among the monarchs many experiments in agriculture, the Chitralada Palace dairy products appear to be
the most widely known. From a small barn opened in 1962, the dairy operation has developed into a fullfledged business.
Products carrying the Chitralada brand have been recognised for their high quality, from pasteurised fresh
milk, powdered milk and condensed milk to ice cream and cheese. Even the cow dung is turned into compost
for a nearby orchard.
His Majestys ultimate goal for the dairy project is to use it as a model for his citizens to study. At the
opening ceremony of the Suan Dusit Powdered Milk Factory in 1969, His Majesty said: This is the first dairy
factory in our country, and we should be proud that it has been designed and built by Thai people. Think of
this factory as a prototype. Anyone seeking knowledge of how to run a dairy business for the benefit of
themselves and the national economy can come here any time they wish.


To relieve his subjects of iodine deficiency, His Majesty commissioned a survey of salt production so that the iodising
process could be carried out as close to local sources as possible.
With His Majesty's guidance, agricultural goods receive added value when they are processed and manufactured to appeal
more to consumers.
Powdered milk toffee from the Kings Chitralada project has been popularly consumed by kids and adults alike.

Other on-going projects Chitralada Palace have been launched with a similar non-profit oriented goal.
Factories produce canned fruit juice, honey, and paper made of the mulberry plant. There is a mushroom
farm, a herbarium, a tissue culture laboratory, and a solar cell-fuelled demonstration house.
His Majesty coined the term buffalo and cow bank to describe an initiative which led to the establishment
of a centre where farmers can borrow cattle and buffalo for farming.
The idea was developed after the Kings visit to Prachin Buri province in 1979. Farmers there complained
that they did not have money left after work because they had to pay exorbitant prices to rent buffaloes.
In response, His Majesty asked the Department of Livestock to help relieve the problem.
The cattle bank offers a ray of hope to impoverished farmers who otherwise lack the means of production to
sustain themselves and their families. The bank both lends out the buffalo and allows farmers to purchase
them at reasonable prices. Farmers can pay the bank in long-term installments. His Majestys generosity

extends to old and retired cattle, too. He proposed that the Department of Livestock allocate a two to three
rai area in Pak Chong district, Nakhon Ratchasima province, as a retirement home for cattle.
His Majesty said that he did not want the cattle, which contribute greatly to farmers lives, to be slaughtered.

A visit to a fish
market would
show that pla nil
(Nile Tilapia) is
one of the most
popular fish on
sale today because
of its tasty flesh
and reasonable
The fish is so well
known and
commonly seen
that one may be
surprised to learn
that it is not native
to Thai waters.
The availability of
pla nil was the
result of royal

Majesty explains
geography to
officials involved
with flood
His Majesty
granted an
audience to three
recipients of the
Ananda Mahidol
Scholarship, who
are leaving to
study abroad.
During the Royal
compound of
ceremony, rice
grown in the
compound of
is distributed to
For six decades,
His Majesty has
come up with
creative and
practical ideas to
tackle his subjects'

In 1952, His
Majesty asked the
Department of
Fisheries to conduct a trial breeding of pla mor thes (Java Tilapia). The fish turned out to be easy to breed
and rear. His Majesty gave them to local leaders for release into the wild. Pla mor thes has since become a
cheap source of protein for people throughout the country.

In 1965, Crown Prince Akihito of Japan gave His Majesty 25 pairs of a similar species of fish. A trial at
Chitralada Palace showed that the fish, Nile Tilapia, reproduced even faster than their cousins. One year
later, His Majesty named the fish pla nil and gave 10,000 to the Department of Fisheries to fry and distribute
to the public.
In 1955, while flying to visit villagers in the Phuphan Mountains in northeastern Thailand, His Majesty
noticed that although there were plenty of heavy clouds along his flight path, they failed to bring rainfall to
the parched lands below.

Water scarcity brings extreme hardship to farmers. Population increases and industrial expansion also place
great strain on existing water resources.
Analysing the information and scientific data available, His Majesty made it known to one of his close aides,
M.R. Debriddhi Devakul, of his firm intention to search for a way to bring down more rain than that given
by nature.
The Royal Rain, or artificial rain, project was thus born. Soon afterwards, an official agency, the Royal Rain
Operations Office, was established to assume responsibility for cloud seeding operations.
One major cause of pollution is the lack of effective waste water treatment and garbage disposal systems. His
Majesty has initiated several projects to treat waste water employing natural processes and inexpensive
technologies. Following are selected examples of successful cases:
Waste Water Treatment via Filtration by Water Hyacinth
Bueng Makkasan is a small lake in the heart of Bangkok. Dug by the Royal Siamese Railway in 1931, it has
been used for many years to hold flood and waste water from surrounding areas, including used lubricants
from the Makkasan railway work shop. The discharge has caused the lake to silt up and become shallow and
In 1985, His Majesty asked various agencies to help improve the lakes water quality using natural
filtration. Apart from increasing the water circulation by pumping water in and out of the lake, His Majesty
also advised agencies to grow water hyacinth to absorb the organic matter and heavy metals in the water.
The weeds are replaced every 10 weeks before they reach the peak of their growth. The removed plants are
used to make compost or fuel but not animal feed as they contain residues of heavy metals.
This simple and inexpensive method can treat 30,000 to 100,000 cubic metres of polluted water daily. It is
found to reduce the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) value by 19 to 85 percent, total coliform bacteria by
90 percent, and faecal coliform bacteria by 89 percent.
The cleaner lake offers several by-products, such as compost and fuel made from water hyacinth and the
cultivation of aquatic plants of commercial value.
Combining Lagoon Treatment and Grass Filtration
The Laem Phak Bia Environmental Research and Development Project, Phetchaburi Province
A 1,135 rai (181.6 hectare) plot of public land was chosen as a site for the construction of a waste water
treatment system at Laem Phak Bia.
First, waste water from the municipal area and environs is conveyed to the Yang Canal pumping station,
where garbage is removed. The station serves as a primary sedimentation pond, which may reduce pollution
by up to 40 per cent.
Next, the water is pumped into an 18-kilometre pipeline to Laem Phak Bia to undergo a two step treatment.
The Lagoon Treatment system consists of five different ponds: one sedimentation pond, three oxidation

ponds, and one polishing pond. The waste water is treated gradually as the water flows from pond to pond
before being drained into mangrove forest for the next stage of treatment process.
The secondary treatment system exploits natural filtration by channeling the water through a constructed
wetland system, grass fields, and finally another constructed mangrove area. Aquatic plants reduce toxins
and organic matter in the water by absorption and digestion. After the treatment, the water quality has been
transformed enough to meet acceptable standards.
Similar systems have been adapted to treat water pollution at Nong Han and Nong Sanom in Sakon Nakhon


The Story of Mahajanaka is His Majestys literary gift reminding people that through perseverance, one will prevail.
The devastation caused by cyclone Harriet in 1962 led to the establishment of the Rachaprachanugroh Foundation.
Realising that fertile soil is fundamental to successful agriculture, His Majesty has developed innovative ways to improve the


Witnessing the increasing severity of water pollution, His Majesty ordered that a low-cost locally built water
aeration device be developed. With financial assistance from the Chaipattana Foundation, the Royal
Irrigation Department manufactured a waste water treatment device known as the Chaipattana aerator.
Since 1989, the oxygen-enhancing aerator has been installed for trial use at Phra Mongkutklao Hospital and
Wat Bovornives Vihara.
Nine models are currently being tested. The development of the Chaipattana aerator offers an alternative to
treating polluted water that is efficient, easy to use and cost-effective. The machine is capable of treating
water pollution with BOD of 250 milligrammes per litre at a rate of 600 cubic metres per day, reducing BOD
by more than 90 per cent.
The aerator costs only 96 satang per cubic metre of water treated. In terms of pollutants removed, it can be
operated for just 3.84 baht per kilogramme of BOD substances. The device is durable and requires little
In 1993, the Chaipattana Aerator Model RX-2 was granted a patent under His Majestys name. It was the
first patent in the world given to a monarch.

During a royal visit to Narathiwat province in 1981, His Majesty the King observed that swamp lands drained
for agriculture or flood control, soon grew too acidic to be arable.
Beneath a one-to-two-metre layer of decomposed plant residue lays a bluish grey mud with high pyrite
content. As soils in drained areas dry, underlying layers of pyrite release sulphuric acid as they oxidize.
A project to improve soil quality was set up at the Pikul Thong Royal Development Study Centre. His Majesty
came up with a process he dubbed the Klaeng Din (Aggravating the Soil) method. Depending on the
existing conditions of the soil, there are three different techniques to choose from:
- The use of water to remove soil acidity with applications of nitrogenous and phosphatic fertilisers.
- The use of lime mixed with topsoil such as marl and lime dust.
- The use of lime in combination with soil flooding and careful manipulation of ground-water levels.
Recognising the problem of the loss of topsoil and soil erosion, His Majesty the King initiated studies and
experiments on the use of vetiver grass, known in Thai as ya faek, as a potential solution that is both
economical and friendly to the environment.
The research revealed a number of positive uses for the easily grown plant. Vetiver grass helps reduce the
speed of water runoff; it traps the silt, and ameliorates the problem of gully erosion.
The plant also prevents damage to step terraces and hillside ditches and lessens the accumulation of silt in
irrigation and drainage canals. Its root system forms an underground barrier that prevents water-borne soil
and toxic substances from flowing down to the water table as it absorbs heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
In addition, the grass helps maintain the dikes of paddy fields. Vetiver thatch is useful both at the household
level and in commercial manufacturing. Vetivers aromatic root can be used in wardrobes to freshen the air
and to protect clothing against moth infestation. The volatile oil in the roots is used in fragrances, such as the
French perfume Vetiver.
His Majestys vetiver initiative earned him two prestigious awards in 1993 from the International Erosion
Control Association (IECA) and the World Bank.
His Majesty the King has suggested several strategies to control flooding both in Bangkok and in the
The royal strategies focus on building more dikes to prevent overflow of water, enlarging existing canals,
digging up new ones where appropriate, and constructing reservoirs at various sites to store excess water.
One of His Majestys well known flood control initiatives is the Monkeys Cheek (Kaem Ling) Project,
designed to alleviate flooding in Bangkok and nearby areas. The basic tenet of the Kaem Ling project is to
store water from the north of Bangkok in large canals and flush the excess water out to sea.
We have been heading in the right direction. Please hurry up and improve the project because the Kaem
Ling Project will help many, many areas, His Majesty remarked.

His Majesty is well aware of the frustrations suffered by Bangkok residents during the daily commute. The
King has thus initiated several road construction projects to expand the road surface in the capital city, most
notably on Ratchadapisek Road and Ratchadamnoen Nok Road.
One of the most outstanding projects was the construction of an elevated highway along the Borom
Ratchonnanee Road which was completed in two years [1996-1998], a record time for a project of that scale.
The upper-level road is now taking about 6,000 cars a day, while the groundlevel one has the capacity to
handle between 60,000 and 70,000 cars a day.
In 1969, His Majesty the King gave an initial grant 200,000 baht to researchers at Kasetsart University to
fund a study to identify a viable alternative cash crop for hilltribe people whose livelihoods were dependant
on opium production.
The project, known as the Royal Project, aimed at stopping opium cultivation and slash-and-burn farming
among hilltribes. Both practices had inflicted serious damage to watershed forests for nearly 30 years. Under
the Royal Project Foundation hilltribe peoples produce cold climate vegetables. They now have a better
standard of living and employ sustainable cultivation methods.
The Project now has four research stations and 35 Royal Project Development centres, covering 295 villages
and 14,109 households comprising 85,000 people.
An expert on rural development in his own right, His Majesty initiated the establishment of Royal
Development Study Centres. Aware that there is no single formula or solution to rural poverty, the centres
conduct studies, research projects and experiments with the aim of establishing guidelines and development
methods appropriate to the conditions of individual areas. Dubbed the Living Museums, farmers can
observe and receive training by seeing and learning from the real-life examples. The six centres are:
-The Khao Hin Son Centre in Phanom Sarakham district, Chachoengsao
-The Huay Hong Krai Centre in Chiang Mai -The Pikul Thong Centre, Narathiwat
-The Phu Phan Centre, Sakon Nakhon
-The Kung Kraben Bay Centre, Chanthaburi
-The Huay Sai Centre, Phetchaburi
His Majestys concern about water shortages afflicting rain-fed farmers led to the promotion of his plan for
smallscale farm management. According to the plan, each plot of between 10 and15 rai is divided into four
main sections.
The general formula is 30:30:30:10 which corresponds to the relative proportion to be allocated to a
reservoir, rice fields, fruit and vegetable orchards, and residence/livestock areas, respectively.
To ensure an adequate supply of water throughout the year, a system of individual ponds, a community
reservoir and a larger basin is recommended. In case of drought, the dried-up pond will be filled in by the
next largest in the hierarchy.

His Majestys concept has been successfully tested at an experimental field at Wat Mongkhon Chaipattana in
Saraburi province.
The key objective of the New Theory is to achieve selfsufficiency. His Majesty calculated that a family of six
requires about five rai of land dedicated to rice cultivation.
The second stage of the New Theory advises that farmers organize themselves into groups or cooperatives to
empower them in production, processing, marketing, education, social welfare and development. The third
and last stage envisages fair trade relationships between the private sector and local community
While Bangkok has a doctor-patient ratio of one doctor per 998 patients, the rate is one doctor per more
than 20,000 patients in the Northeast, one per more than 12,000 patients in the North, and one per 14,000
patients in the South.
Realising that a large number of people still dont have access to proper health care, His Majesty initiated a
mobile health unit in 1967. He arranged for his personal physicians as well as a team of volunteer medical
professionals to tend people in remote areas without charge.
During the trips, it was found that many villagers suffer from dental problems. As a result, His Majesty set
up the Royal Mobile Dental Unit.
His Majesty did not wish the villagers to rely solely on outside physicians. He initiated another scheme to
give basic medical trainingfirst aid, preventive medicine, and knowledge about nutritionto local villagers.
These village doctors are of great help to people who live far from government funded health care services.
During his extensive travels throughout the countryside, His Majesty observed a large number of his subjects
suffering from iodine deficiency and goiter.
Aware of the regional variations in the salt supply, His Majesty commissioned the Salt Roads survey, which
mapped out the different routes salt followed from production to its delivery to the consumer outlets. The
emphasis of the project was to promote the iodization of salt as close to the local sources as possible.
A pioneering project, using Samoeng district in Chiang Mai as the model, was conducted in 1993 and has
identified four major routes. The survey resulted in the distribution and implementation of iodization
processes that can be tailored to either individual consumption or large-scale manufacturing.
The name Rajaprachanukroh literally means mutual assistance between the monarch and the people. The
Rajaprachanukroh Foundation was established in 1963 to relieve the devastation caused when a massive
typhoon devastated Thailands southern provinces.
His Majesty had the Au Sau radio station make an announcement asking people to make donations to relieve
victims of the storm.
The campaign raised more than 11 million baht. After the assistance was distributed, part of the money

remained. His Majesty directed that a fund be established to help children whose families were affected by
the storm and to give relief to victims of natural calamities in the future. Thus the Rajaprachanukroh
Foundation was born.
To date, the foundation has built more than 12 schools in the South, replacing those destroyed in floods. It
also awards scholarships to needy children.
During his extensive travels, His Majesty came upon a number of people suffering from leprosy.
He asked the director of the Department of Health, When will leprosy be eradicated from Thailand? The
director replied that if the government had one million baht to establish an institute to do research on the
disease, it could be wiped out in10 years.
His Majesty told the director to go ahead and build the needed research facility, with funds provided by the
Ananda Mahidol Foundation set up by His Majesty to commemorate his brother, the late King Ananda
The facility, known as the Ratchaprachasamasai Institute and Foundation has treated more than 60,000
people with leprosy. Once treated, patients are assigned to live in one of the 12 communes scattered around
the Kingdom. There they embark on learning an occupation with the aid of an initial loan from the
On a visit to Ratchaprachasamasai Institute, His Majesty saw a couple of children whose parents were
suffering from leprosy. He asked the officials where these children would go for schooling, and was told they
had no idea since the law forbids children of people with leprosy to attend ordinary schools. In response, His
Majesty set up a school in Phra Pradaeng to provide education for the children of individuals with leprosy.
A teacher by nature, His Majesty the King initiated the Phra Dabos project in 1976 to provide nonformal
education for those who lack the means necessary to enter formal schools.
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn explained in a 1995 interview that the concept of the Phra Dabos
school is like that of the Phra Dabos (hermits) in folktales.
According to the tales, anybody wishing to gain knowledge would go to the woods to find a Phra Dabos.
If the hermit believed the person had enough determination, he would provide them with both practical and
moral teachings in return for their service.
His Majesty finances the project, which operates on a non-commercial basis. The Phra Dabos school which
teaches courses in electronics and mechanics is open to people from all walks of life.
According to Princess Sirindhorn, the Princess Mother bought an encyclopaedia so that members of the
Royal Family could find answers to their questions. His Majesty said he would like to have that kind of
encyclopaedia produced for Thai people, in the Thai language.

The Thai Junior Encyclopaedia is divided into three levels. The high level is for older children and adults
seeking specialized knowledge on a variety of subjects.
The other two are intermediate and elementary.
His Majesty summarised the purpose of the encyclopaedia as follows:
They (the encyclopaedia) are books that include all the knowledge humans have gathered since ancient
times and processed for later generations. Normally this knowledge is learned at schools or educational
institutions. But due to a lack of teachers and schools, there needs to be an alternative source of knowledge
which enables people to learn by themselves or from relatives and friends who know more.
The Ananda Mahidol Foundation was established on April 3, 1959 using His Majestys private funds.
The name was chosen as a memorial of King Rama VIII, the Kings elder brother.
Originally, the scholarships were given to students in medicine, for both His Majestys father and brother
had expressed their intention to promote the field in the country. Later, the programme was expanded to
cover eight different fields; medicine, science, agriculture, law, art, dentistry, veterinary science, and
The foundation appoints eight screening panels to select students from a pool of university graduates,
typically those who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance. The scholarships enable
recipients to study overseas on the condition they return and work for the benefit of the nation.
In 1965, the Kings Scholarship programme, first launched during King Rama Vs reign, was revived. In
keeping with its original spirit, the scholarships are given to students with outstanding academic records for
the pursuit of undergraduate studies at foreign universities in any field of their choosing.
(Other government scholarship programmes have specific requirements as to which field of study students
can pursue.)
The scholarships are granted to those wishing to study mathematics and science, languages and social
studies, and vocational training and art. Each year, nine students are selected. On average, the programme
lasts five years, and there is no commitment to pay back the award. In 1971, the regulations were amended to
allow students to choose to study in local universities as well.
The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation was established in commemoration of the Centenary Birthday
Anniversary of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkhla on January 1, 1992. Each year, two awards
are conferred to individual(s) or institution( s) for excellence in fields of medicine and public health. The
prize money for each of the two categories is US$50,000 (1,925,000 baht) derived from income earned from
the Foundations endowment.

His Majesty has demonstrated his literary talents with his translations of English works into Thai.
William Stevensons A Man Called Intrepid was translated in1993, followed by a translation of Phyllis Autys
Tito in 1994.
In 1996, the Golden Jubilee year of his reign, the King released The Story of Mahajanaka to the public.
The book was an instant hit, and has gone into several reprints, including the latest, an animated version.
The Story of Mahajanaka was based on a jataka, a Buddhist religious tale in the Holy Tripitaka about the
practice of perseverance, one of the 10 principal virtues practised by a Bodhisattva King, Mahajanaka, and
how it brought progress and prosperity to the city of Mithila.

Halted after the 1932 revolution, the ancient Royal in 1960.
SECOND ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT: The New Theory gives a new life based on self-sufficiency to farmers.
Pla nil (Nile Tilapia) is one of the most popular fish on sale today .
Products carrying the Chitralada brand have been recognized for their quality.
The philosophy behind the New Theory is to have everything, such as mushroom, one needs for sustenance in ones
Vetiver grass is a natural solution to the problem of soil erosion.
The Chaipattana aerator is one of His Majestys attemps to solve the problem of water pollution in Thailand.
Artificial flowers and other handicrafts from sa paper are among products from His Majestys Chitralada Projects.
The experimental rice mill epitomises His Majestys care for the agricultural sector.

For more information on His Majestys projects, check the following web sites:
-The Royal Development Project Board
-The Kanchanapisek Site

Throughout His Majesty the Kings travels on official state visits to North America, Europe and Asia between
and 1967, Her Majesty the Queen was always by the young monarchs side. In 1968 she published a book of
about those trips entitled In Memory of the State Visits of His Majesty the King. The following are Englishlanguage
translations of excerpts from this memoir.


Their Majesties the King and Queen during their state visits to the United States
and Europe in 1960.
Surrounded by military troops and adoring English subjects, Her Majesty Queen

I once thought that visiting foreign

countries would be a joyful and
exciting experience, especially for
young people. In 1952, when I was
Their Majesties meet President Francisco Franc of Spain in November 1960.
only 19 years old, I returned home
to Thailand with the King and our eldest daughter who was not yet one year old. Then, from that time on,
until I was 27 years old, I never left my homeland at all because the King definitely had no intention of
leaving the country, except for an unavoidable reason. As the head of the Thai nation, the King thought it
best to stay inside the country in order to be close to his people. Even when holidaying, he chose to remain in
Thailand traveling either to the North or to the South, as opportunities arose. He never thought of going
skiing in a cold country in the winter or of shopping in any neighbouring countries. He would never have
thought of seeking pleasure as others of the same status might have, and as for me, I never thought of going
anywhere if he did not go.
Elizabeth II of England and His
Majesty King Bhumibol travel by carriage from Victoria Railway Station to
Buckingham Palace.


The first country we visited in 1960 was the United States of America. I remember a most fearful event was
when the King gave a press conference. It was this event that almost crushed my excitement at visiting
America for the first time.
I still remember the Kings first press conference. I sat motionlessly beside his chair, my hands icy cold with
fear. The room was full of microphones and tape recorders, and spotlights that targeted powerful beams of
light onto our faces, and my eyes were blurred. Many camera bulbs were constantly flashing, reporters
surrounded us, and all eyes were stuck on us. They took photographs, made films for television broadcasting,
and interviewed the King all at the same time...
The process of asking and responding to questions lasted at least 40 minutes. The King was bombarded by
the reporters questions. It was more like the accused standing before a group of jurors than a press
conference. Finally, I gave a silent sigh of relief. The first press conference in our lives had come to an end.
The American public relations officer, who was on duty, came to the King and asked him how he had felt
about the press conference, whether anything about it had worried him at all. The King replied that initially
he had felt worried because it was his first ever press conference. The public relations officer was very
impressed with how well His Majesty had handled it, especially as it had not been conducted in our native
language. He had not noticed any sign that His Majesty might have felt frustrated or stressed.
The public relations officer had had many opportunities to observe the leaders of other nations. He had seen
press conferences like ours many times. Some leaders perspired, and others stammered and could not keep
the conversation going smoothly enough which spoiled the impression others had of their personality. Thus,
a television broadcast would result in an audience laughing at such a speaker. Instead of identifying with
him, an audience would not be impressed by such a weak performance. How common and natural it seems
for people to criticise others, but being a role model for other people to respect is very difficult.

Queen Elizabeth II and her
husband hosted us at Buckingham
Palace, and we stayed in a wing
opposite to theirs. The Queen had
arranged for us to stay in the
Belgian Suite at the northwest
corner of the palace, on the ground
floor. This suite had originally been
designed for King George IVs
needs, since he was so obese that he
could not climb up the stairs. He
had died, however, before he had
ever had a chance to move in. The
reason for it being called the
Belgian Suite could have been due
to the fact that Queen Victorias
uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium,
was a regular visitor to England in
that period long ago. The kings of
many countries had stayed in these
rooms Queen Elizabeth had
different souvenirs from Thailand
arranged for us in our suite. These
included water bowls and saucers,
golden trunks, small snuff boxes,
CLOCKWISE, FROM RIGHT: Amid flowing confetti, His Majesty the King receives cigarette cases, swords with
a warm welcome from the people of New York City.
engraved scabbards, gold-plated tea
Their Majesties the King and Queen travel from Buckingham Palace to Guildhall
to attend a the Lord Mayor of London.
sets, and other items to decorate
US President Eisenhower welcomes Their Majesties. 60YEARS
our living quarters at Buckingham
Palace so that we would feel at home while we were there. These had been gift items from King Rama IV to
Queen Victoria, sent through royal ambassadors led by Phya Montri Suriwong and escorts like Mom
Rachothai and presented to Queen Victoria in 1857 (BE 2400). Apparently these items were usually kept in
Windsor Palace...
I personally felt that every time the King met Queen Elizabeth, they talked to each other so easily, even
though they had only met just a few days before. This could possibly have been because they shared similar
views and also because they were about the same age. It was especially
evident that night when the King and Queen Elizabeth were sharing jokes and teasing one another in a
friendly way. This made others around the table also feel at ease, and everyone enjoyed themselves...
On the first day of our arrival in Germany, we were very excited to see crowds of people, who joyfully greeted
us everywhere we went, shouting blessings and waving to us. I was surprised because I had never expected
such a warm welcome. From what I knew of Germany, this country was rich and economically advanced in
its development, while we both came from an oriental country that was neither rich nor important for
Europeans. So we felt very humble. We could not have even dared to imagine that thousands and thousands
of people would come out like this to welcome us.

It was so crowded along the sides of the roads all the way from the railway station to our residence. The
people were smiling and looked very happy to see us. Some had words of blessing for us and some shouted
Long Live Thailand. When we arrived at our residence, thousands of people were even waiting for us at the
entrance. As soon as they saw us, they began to clap their hands approvingly. After we entered the building
the crowd still would not go home. Instead, the gathering grew larger and larger due to people from
re also
us to
BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT: His Majesty the King kisses the hand of Her Majesty Queen of Denmark.
so that Their Majesties meet President Charles De Gaulle and his wife.
Their Majesties grant an audience to Los Angeles newspaper journalist
see us.
Finally, the director general of the Protocol Department who had been with us all the time, asked us what to
do because this large crowd just would not go home. They kept on shouting our names and wanting to see us
again. The King decided to persuade me to go out with him onto the veranda. When they saw us, they
applauded and beckoned affably to us. After smiling and waving to them for a while, we came inside to our
quarters. The crowd, however, still would not go home and called for us to go out again. We eventually went
out to see them three times before they decided to go home. They felt great concern that we had made such a
long journey and were feeling tired and in need of rest.
Although they would not have realised it, we could not forget the warm welcome and hospitality that the
German people shared with us everywhere we went during our nine days in Germany. It was a true state visit
because the entire population joined with their government to create a climate of friendship towards the
representatives of another land who had visited them. It was a lifetime memory for us...
Nine days into our visit, the German government provided [a] train for us to go to Switzerland. When the
train stopped at the last station, which was on the Swiss- German border, so that some German officers who
were attending to us could bid us farewell, the station was full of people and the two passenger trains on our
left and right sides were full of passengers. They poked out their smiling faces and waved to us. When our
train prepared to go to the Swiss border, all the people at the station, including the station officers, officers
who had attended to us for nine days, the passengers in all the carriages and the people on the platforms,
without any advance arrangement, sang Auf Wiedersehen (which means Till We Meet Again), as a
farewell song. Someone started to sing, and then everyone followed. The train slowly left German territory
with a wonderful farewell song that all the people sang for us. We felt both deeply appreciative and at the
same time sad to leave these beloved German people. It was an experience that caused some of our
entourage to shed tears.
Six years later, in 1966, when I accompanied the King on an official visit to Germany, the German
government and the people greeted us with the same warm welcome in every city we visited. It was no
different from our first visit. This time, we went to some cities in the north, which we had not visited during
our first trip. The King was very interested in the harbour enterprise at Bremen Harbour. Another thing to

which the King paid particular attention was the marine and fishing industry, which produced canned fish
and smoked fish, amongst other products, and which used alternative methods to preserve fish. His interest
was solely to apply what he had seen in order to improve Thailands own fishing and marine industry...
MEETING THE POPE The Vatican covered a vast area of 13.5 acres. I heard that there were 1,001 rooms
altogether in the Vatican, and even walking past a few rooms that morning left me feeling exhausted. Each
room looked grand. There were paintings along the walls painted by the worlds greatest artists, such as
Raphael and Michelangelo.
We walked past two throne rooms leading to the room where the Pope was waiting for the King and myself.
He had the others wait outside and then led us into his room by himself.
When the Pope held out his hand, the King bent down before him and shook his hand, but the King told me
later that the Pope had held out his hand to pull the King up so that he would not bend down too low. Both of
us thought he was very kind. He probably did not want us to violate the rules of our religion.
When the Pope held his hand out to me, I curtsied with respect while I shook his hand. We thought that not
only was he senior, he also had noble qualifications to be respected by people around the world. Lord
Buddha once taught us that to worship those who are worthy is a great blessing. This Pope was a most
venerable person. Just looking at him made me feel that he was good, pure and full of loving kindness.
The Pope talked to the King in French. They talked for almost an hour on all kinds of broad issues. Finally,
they talked about Thailand and Buddhism. The King informed the Pope that he himself supported all
religions in Thailand. Our people were free to embrace any religion they like. He told him there were a
number of Roman Catholics in Thailand and they were good citizens of our country. This was proof that any
person who is strict in his religion will be a good person, since every religion teaches human being to do good
Although we spent only four days in Belgium, our visit there was extremely concentrated. We had to travel
with King Baudouin to many cities where the languages of French and or Flemish were spoken. The King
talked to King Baudouin in French. In cities where the people spoke French as their native language, King
Baudouin would speak French and in cities where Flemish was the native language, he would speak English,
not French, for political reasons. As many of you might know, even though Belgium is a small country, the
people speak two languages: French and Flemish. The French-speaking people think that French is
important while the Flemish-speaking people think that Flemish is equally important.
Every morning during our four-day visit, King Baudouin would arrive to take us out to different cities. Before
arriving at the palace in Brussels each night, it would already be evening. Then we would have to hurriedly
get dressed to go to a banquet, after which we also had to attend a big reception until its finish.
When we first arrived in Belgium, His Majesty began to catch a cold. If he had taken time to rest for a day or
two, his symptoms would not have become aggravated, but instead, he had to attend many activities from
morning until evening. Besides, with traveling to different cities in such cold rainy weather every day, the
King had been exposed to very cold drizzle all of this time. Thus, the King had a fever on the second day of
our visit. His personal doctor prescribed a dose of medicine for him to take every four hours. This made him
feel sleepy and drowsy, but his temperature did not abate. Nonetheless, he actively participated in each event
of the day. No one, except for our entourage and myself, knew that he was sick...
Every day he had to shake hands with about 1,000 people. I sympathized with him so much. If I had been as

terribly sick as His Majesty was then, I am not sure that I could have endured it. When I saw his pale face
and his eyes so sleepy with fever, I felt so anxious. But it was beyond my control. I knew that he would try the
best that he could and that he would not give in. I recalled a popular English idiom, As happy as a king. At
that moment I wanted to laugh out loud sarcastically and bitterly.
It was very serious matter when a visiting head of state becomes ill. One of my foreign friends once told me
that whether it could be helped or not, when a national leader goes for an official visit to another country, he
or she should not become sick. Otherwise, they will be mercilessly criticised. Progressive hotheads believed
that a head of state usually has higher privileges than others have. Therefore, he or she has no right to
become sick as an ordinary person does. He must be a superman: tireless, neat and beautiful without
trip to
lia was
bit as
sful as
trip to
d had
Their Majesties the King and Queen wave to a large crowd from a veranda.
Her Majesty the Queen and Princess Alexandra of Kent arrive at Guildhall, London.
us a
A packed square filled with well-wishers.
Their Majesties with the Pope at the Vatican.
me everywhere. However, in this country, some incidents occurred which made us feel not entirely happy.
The first day we arrived in Australia, we experienced a bit of trouble. After a welcome ceremony at Canberra
Airport, the King and I got into the royal car. Sir Dallas Brooks, Australias governor general, who was the
Queens representative, and Lady Brooks, his wife, followed us in a second car. Suddenly, a very loud noise
came from the crowd waiting along the two sides of the road. I turned in the same direction, startled to see

the police and a group of people trying in vain to catch one man. The man raised his hands and unfolded a
poster that I could see. On the poster a statement was written, which [said], We dont want to welcome the
dictator of Thailand.
That was the first time I had ever encountered people calling the King a dictator or showing that they did not
want to welcome us. My heart felt as though it would stop. After the poster had been unfolded and the car
was about to leave, I glanced back and saw that the police and the people around him were very angry. They
had snatched the poster from that man and thrown it away.
My heart was still beating irregularly and my hands were shaking at the thought of the writing on that
poster. I whispered and asked the King whether he had seen the poster to chase the dictator away. The King
replied that he had seen it, while he turned to smile and wave his hand to the people who had come to
welcome us all the way to Government House, which was our residence. He showed no emotion at all. For
me, I waved my hand and smiled all the way as well, but my smile was somewhat woebegone.
I thought that the King was very calm, while I myself was trembling with hurt and anger. I really pitied
myself for having taken the trouble to come to promote the relationship between countries only to see a
poster chasing us away the minute we arrived. We had not asked to come; they had invited us. The King
counseled me to keep calm and not express any feelings of regret or pain that their government would notice.
He said that, in fact, it was the action of just one troublemaker, or a minority group. The Australian
government had done its best to honour us, and the people had also welcomed us with very good friendship.
However, it may have been the wish of a small group to annoy and anger us for the whole duration of our 18
days in Australia. The King emphasised that this incident was the act of a small group and not the action of
of the
Their Majesties with King Baudouin of Belgium.
er a
Their Majesties talk to Thais living in the US.
UK Minister of Foreign Affairs Selwyn Lloyd welcomes Their Majesties to a dinner banquet at Lancaster Castle in
their honour.
government hosted a welcome for us, the King and I would sit on one side of the stage with our entourage,
while the host would sit on the other side.
The lights would be very bright, and the ceremony would begin with the municipal councillor giving an
impromptu welcome speech to introduce the King to the audience by telling them about his background and
role in our country.
Sometimes he would talk about Thailand and sometimes tease us in a friendly way, which would please the
audience and rouse a round of applause. On his visits to these two countries, the King not only had to fulfill
his role as our Head of State, but also had to be a speaker who could touch the hearts of the listeners, and
with no advance notice, either. Most of the prepared speeches did not match the impromptu things the host
would say on stage. As the people of these two countries are proud of the role of eloquent speakers, not to
readers of prepared texts, he often had to improvise on the spot, so that he could respond correctly and

spontaneously. Sometimes the King would tease the audience in a humorous way.
After we returned to Thailand, those who had watched the news of our visits to New Zealand and Australia
came to ask me why I had always sat with my head down, while the King made his speeches, I told them that
I had felt anxious when there were thousands of pairs of eyes staring at the King. If the audience approved of
the Kings speech, they would applaud him and laugh with admiration, but what would happen if his speech
did not live up to their expectations? I almost trembled with anxiety about this.
However, everywhere we had gone up until then, people had been happy with the Kings speeches. Beside
paying close attention, they had occasionally burst into laughter in the middle of a speech, and the King
would have to stop for a while before continuing to speak. Sometimes the auditorium would be filled with
noisy applause and I would feel relieved: My morale and self-confidence would return...
The third worrisome event occurred in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria. It was the day when Melbourne
University was to grant an honorary Doctorate of Law to the King. When we arrived at the university, we had
to walk past a group of men and women who were understood to have been students of that university. The
group remained outside the auditorium, with its glass doors opening periodically, so that they could see and
hear what was going on inside. This group of students was inappropriately dressed, but some other groups
looked all right. When I walked into the auditorium after the King, some groups applauded us, while some
looked on indifferently, not smiling not sullen. However other groups looked at us very strangely, and there
were some whispering and laughing with each other. I could not help but look at them incredulously as I
thought that the way they were behaving was not appropriate. Their attire showed that they were seeking
attention of some sort rather than being students who should be intellectuals.
When we entered the auditorium, it was almost full of people. There were students, professors, Melbourne
VIPs, reporters, and others present. It had been arranged for myself and our entourage to sit with the
audience in the front row. The King was on the stage with the rector, the deans and the university council.
After the ceremony had commenced, the rector went to read the citation in honour of the King before
granting the degree.
Suddenly, I heard a loud heckling noise from some of the intellectuals, who were outside. They were
standing in various inappropriate poses, some resting their feet on trees, others standing with their legs
apart with their hands on their hips. Their heckling was loud enough to disturb the Rector who was
speaking. I suddenly felt angry and almost lost my temper. I looked up on the stage and saw that the
professors and university council members looked pale and were restless with embarrassment...
I glanced at our entourage and saw that they all sat stiffly. When the rector had finished his citation, he
granted the degree to His Majesty. Then it was time for the King to go to give his speech at the microphone
in the middle of the stage. Before anything happened, heckling could be heard from the intellectuals
outside again. I felt my hands were cold and my heart beat strangely. I felt sorry for the King, and I did not
know what to do. I did not even dare to look up at him for I was sorry for him and sympathized with him.
Finally, I did force myself to look up at him to give him encouragement. But it was I who instead received
encouragement from the King, because as I looked at him walk to the middle of the stage, his face was calm
and still.
Just at that moment, all the audience applauded him loudly as if to encourage him. As the applause died
down, I looked up on the stage again to see him raise the academic cap that he wore with the gown, before
turning and bowing most beautifully towards the noisy group of people outside. His face had a slight smile,
his eyes a little sarcastic, but his voice even and level, he said, I wish to thank you all very much for giving a

warm and polite welcome to your official guests. After saying only that, he turned to speak to the audience
in the auditorium.
Then I wanted to laugh aloud with satisfaction because the heckling suddenly stopped as if a switch had been
turned off. From then on, there was no more heckling. Everyone, both outside and inside of the auditorium,
listened quietly and thoughtfully to the Kings speech. I felt that his speech that day was excellent. It was an
impromptu speech, made without notes. He told the audience about the ancient culture of Thailand. He
explained that we had freedom, our own language and alphabet which we had created for our own use. We
had made our own laws and administration. We had given freedom to our people more than 700 years ago.
At that moment, I was very amused because after he had said more than 700 years ago ... he acted as if he
had just thought of something ... [and] was a little startled, and then bowed politely when he said..., Im
sorry I forgot at that time there was no Australia yet. Then he
on to
s and
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England and His Majesty King Bhumibol travel by carriage from Victoria Railway becau
se we
Station to Buckingham Palace.
Her Majesty the Queen receives a bouquet at the Thai Embassy in Germany.
Their Majesties greet the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley.
y use
our intellect to think and find reasons before making decisions, rather than making decisions based on trial
and error, or on emotions, without reason.

After the ceremony, the rector invited the King and myself to leave the auditorium and go to another room to
enjoy some drinks and a small reception, so that the professors and guests could have an audience with the
King. Everyone praised him for his speech. I pitied some professors who came spluttering excuses for the
impolite noise. They said that the children had been quarreling among themselves: It had nothing to do with
the ceremony. As a matter of fact, I did not blame anybody. The government and the university had given full
honour to the King and myself, while some misbehaving students had embarrassed their professors, who
had to go out of their way to call them children instead of students. It was probably because those students
thought they had the freedom to express their opinions as they liked. They did not think about whether or
not their opinions were reasonable or appropriate. They only thought that if they were students, then they
must have freedom. So they used their freedom fully that day.
After the reception, when we went to the car, we had to walk past the same group of students. They were still
waiting to see us, but their behaviour had completely changed. Some students looked embarrassed. They
avoided looking us in the eyes, and there were no longer strange looks on their faces. However, some of them
were sporty enough to smile at us, wave, and applaud us all the way to the waiting car...
NEW YORK, 1967
That night, a famous American businessman, who was the chairman of a famous newspaper and on the
committee of the Metropolitan Museum, arranged a reception at the museum for us. Before we went to the
reception, I learnt that the King would try to find a chance to express his opinions about preserving world
peace. He told me that he would present views that some American might think to be minor issues but that
are actually very harmful, therefore the American people need to be aware of them. If they were openminded people, they would listen to him. That night many business leaders and journalists were present.
After the King had finished his speech, the entire audience gave him a rousing round of applause. They were
very pleased with his speech, in which there was an analogy, as follows:
Those who have the duty to report news or to bring about understand between peoples of different
countries and classes should always be conscious that their jobs are important and highly honoured, as
they are meant to have great responsibility in the joint creation of peace for the world. The dissemination
of news without careful consideration or even by using simple words can destroy the work of people of
goodwill who have strived with difficulty to create peace for long years. If they excuse themselves that the
use of a few loose words is a trivial matter and people should not worry about it too much, this is just not
correct. It is like just a little air bubble. If it gets into blood stream, it can split off the life of a whole man. A
little cube of sweet sugar, if put in a gasoline tank, can ruin completely the good engine of a car...
That night, I could not sleep well. I confess it was because a member of the committee [of Williams
University, where His Majesty the King would be presented with a doctorate degree] had whispered to me,
Tomorrow, even if something goes wrong, you should not be frightened. And please dont think that we
dishonour you. There might be distribution of leaflets or some students walkout during the
[commencement] ceremony.
It was usual for these events to occur in the United States at that time because students felt it was ones right
to protest. The committee member explained that it was university tradition to let students with high
distinction write articles. The three best articles would receive an award and would be read to the audience
by their writers. The students had sent their representative to the rector to inform him that one of those
articles argued against the American government that had sent soldiers to South Vietnam. He said the article
contended that it was useless to send people to die there, not that he was a coward, but that people were
willing to die only for their own nation. He disagreed with sending people to die far away. When I learnt this
matter, I could not sleep well...

The ceremony finished in a more orderly manner than I had expected. For the whole time that we sat there,
all the Thai people who attended the ceremony were nervous as we did not know what would happen..
That night the rector personally invited us, along with some committee members, to dinner. I quietly asked
one of the committee members, Id like to know how you manage things so well that there was no bad
incident as expected.
I felt that that committee member was rather annoyed. He said, You know that in America, no one can stop
people from expressing their opinions. He himself was surprised that there was no reaction as expected,
and therefore he had asked those students (many with long hair which made them look even more
frightening) why they had not walked out of the ceremony when one of the leaders of a Southeast Asian
country was being awarded a degree. The students said they had not intended to attack Thailand directly, but
as Thailand had friendly relations with their government, and they were against their governments policy,
they had planned to walk out of the ceremony while the King was giving his speech. But they did not do so
because they saw that the King had clapped his hands to honour three of them. They thought that the King
was open-minded because he had listened to other peoples opinions, no matter whether or not he agreed
with them. Therefore, they wanted to show that they were interested in the Kings opinions, too. That
committee member also told me that everyone had liked the royal speech. It was evident when everyone gave
him a standing ovation and clapped their hands for a long time.
When we came back from dinner, I asked the King. .. Why did you applaud them? It wasnt necessary. Their
professors, their parents, and some of the audience didnt clap their hands. And they looked so sullen,
especially during the article that attacked the sending of soldiers to Vietnam.
The King replied, Didnt you realise that those articles won prizes for language? They spoke well and used
correct language. It was not a prize for policy, so they deserved a hand because they used language
We felt grateful to those committee members who had warned us in advance about the opinions of the
students. This meant that the King could prepare his speech with some idea of what the students had in
mind. His speech that day was amazing. Our foreign minister had also giving him a lot of help by suggesting
to him to cite the lofty Dhamma of the Buddhist religion for foreigners to hear. The following is a summary
of his speech:
Our world today is full of propaganda. Therefore, before we believe anything, we should first look closely
at the reasons that underlie it. Even Lord Buddha taught people to use their consciousness and intelligence
to study, seek, and consider whether His teachings were the truth that is believable rather than to believe
just because someone had enacted it.
Thus, with such words, the long-haired ones did not dare to walk out, because walking out would have
turned them into people who did not use their brains to consider things first.


His Majesty the King gives a speech at a dinner banquet of the World Affairs Council.
Their Majesties the King and Queen are welcomed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh
at Victoria Railway Station.
Their Majesties visit the Canadian Red Cross Association.