End of an era: a look at the life of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

By: Southeast Asia Globe - Posted on: October 13, 2016 | Current Affairs

After more than 70 years as monarch of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign has come to an end. Bhumibol, the longest-reigning monarch in the world, held a demigod-like status in Thailand, with well-wishers gathering outside Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital in recent days to pray for his recovery. Many observers believe his death is likely to throw the country into turmoil. Maha Vajiralongkorn, the Crown Prince of Thailand and heir to the throne, is a controversial figure and, for some, an unsuitable ruler.

 

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and his fiance, Princess Sirikit in Lausanne, Switzerland on Sept. 13, 1949
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and his fiance, Princess Sirikit in Lausanne, Switzerland on Sept. 13, 1949. Photo: AP

 

President Dwight Eisenhower gives a welcoming hand to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Washington National Airport, June 28, 1960 as the American born head of Thailand and his Queen arrive for a five-day state visit.
President Dwight Eisenhower gives a welcoming hand to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Washington National Airport, June 28, 1960 as the American born head of Thailand and his Queen arrive for a five-day state visit. Photo: AP

 

Sitting in the reed section of a Japanese student Jazz Band, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand plays a saxophone during a performance of “Love at Sundown”, one of his many Jazz compositions, at a farewell dinner party at the state guest house in Tokyo
Sitting in the reed section of a Japanese student Jazz Band, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand plays a saxophone during a performance of “Love at Sundown”, one of his many Jazz compositions, at a farewell dinner party at the state guest house in Tokyo on June 4, 1963. Photo: AP

 

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej greets one of his loyal subjects in the central region of Thailand in this undated file picture
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej greets one of his loyal subjects in the central region of Thailand in this undated file picture. Photo: EPA/ROYAL HOUSEHOLD

 

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej salutes his troops Dec. 3, 1979, during the ceremonial parade of the King's guards.
Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej salutes his troops Dec. 3, 1979, during the ceremonial parade of the King’s guards. Photo: AP

 

A Royal Household Bureau handout photo shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (L) waves next to his wife Queen Sirikit (C) and Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (R) during an audience to mark his 80th birthday celebration on the balcony of the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand, 05 December 2007.
A Royal Household Bureau handout photo shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (L) waves next to his wife Queen Sirikit (C) and Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (R) during an audience to mark his 80th birthday celebration on the balcony of the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand, 05 December 2007. Photo: EPA/ROYAL HOUSEHOLD BUREAU

 

A Thai government handout photo dated on 10 December 2007 shows UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) meeting Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Chitlada Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 December 2007. Ban Ki-moon is currently on a three-day visit to Thailand to mark Human Rights Day before flying to Bali on Tuesday to join the international climate change conference and an audience with Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turned 80 on December 5
A Thai government handout photo dated on 10 December 2007 shows UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) meeting Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Chitlada Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. PHOTO: EPA/GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN OFFICE

 

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 81, pictured at a ceremony of Chakri Day at the Memorial bridge or Phra Phutta Yodfa bridge in Bangkok, Thailand, 06 April 2008. Chakri Day commemorates the founding of the current ruling royal dynasty by King Rama I
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 81, pictured at a ceremony of Chakri Day at the Memorial bridge or Phra Phutta Yodfa bridge in Bangkok, Thailand. PHOTO: EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

 

A handout made available by the Royal Household shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (C) at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, on 23 October 2009, during his first public appearance since he was admitted to hospital on 19 September 2009. According to the palace, the 81-year-old king, who has been treated for fever, lung infection and a loss of appetite, is in stable condition.
A handout made available by the Royal Household shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (C) at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, on 23 October 2009, during his first public appearance since he was admitted to hospital on 19 September 2009. PHOTO: EPA/ROYAL HOUSEHOLD HANDOUT

 

The king waves to well-wishers as he sits in a wheelchair after returning from the royal ceremony marking his 83rd birthday at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 05 December 2010.
The king waves to well-wishers as he sits in a wheelchair after returning from the royal ceremony marking his 83rd birthday at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 05 December 2010. Photo: EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

 

A Royal Household Bureau handout photo made available on 24 November 2014 shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (R) talks to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (L) during the two new deputy ministers sworn in ceremony at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 24 November 2014. King Bhumibol, 86-year-old, the world's longest-reigning monarch has been residing in Siriraj Hospital as he is suffering from a variety of ailments. The king is revered in Thailand, where he is seen as a unifying figure and above political conflict
A Royal Household Bureau handout photo made available on 24 November 2014 shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (R) talks to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (L) during the two new deputy ministers sworn in ceremony at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. PHOTO: EPA/ROYAL HOUSEHOLD BUREAU

 

Thai well-wishers pray behind portraits of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 October 2016.
Thai well-wishers pray behind portraits of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 October 2016. Photo: EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT