Introduction by Michael Babcock
As the late King Bhumibol Adulydej’s funeral approaches, Kasma and I have been revisiting his life and feeling anew deep sorrow at the passing of this incredible man. I would have expected time (it’s 11 months since his death) to dull the grief somewhat: that has not been the case.
A friend of Kasma’s recently wondered what the fuss was about, why virtually an entire nation could revere one person so much. She wanted to better understand why Kasma is going to Thailand this year to take part in the ceremonies honoring the King.
As of September 4, over 10,000,000 people have come from across the country to pay respects before the Royal Urn at the Grand Palace’s Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall – that’s an average of 33,146 per day. On Sunday September 3 – 305 days after his death – a total of 45,125 arrived to pay their respects. The day Kasma and I went together in January we were just 2 out of nearly 60,000 people and waited 9 hours to get into the throne hall. Many people have gone multiple times. Donations from the people have amounted to 754,646,253 baht – around $23,000,000. (Figures from a September 4, 2017 Thai PBS article.)
Kasma put together this list for her friend. We invite you to follow some of the links and learn about this extraordinary being.
Resources for the Life of King Rama IX
By Kasma Loha-unchit
Note: All links are offsite & open in a new window.
“While I was in Bangkok I became how very aware people felt about your late King. Even then he was not well and there was a palpable feeling of worry and concern for him. That’s wonderful that you are going over early and can truly participate in honouring your finest monarch. Where can we read about his great works Kasma?”
– Kasma’s friend’s question
Written Word Online
There are tons of books written about the King and his great works and words of wisdom, though the most precious are the books written in the Thai language and published within Thailand. In fact, anything about the King becomes best sellers these days. I recall how sad it was when I arrived in Thailand last November and all magazines on the news racks, local and international, had the King’s picture splashed on the cover in black and white and this continued for three months until the end of the year. The Bangkok Post published a tribute about the King’s life and the Thai Embassy has a page with a few articles about him, if you wish a quick and easy read about him (opening in a new window):
- Bangkok Post: In Remembrance of HIs Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
- Thai Embassy: H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej
There are also a great number of YouTube videos with very touching images and stories. I particularly love the one put together by a couple of Thailand’s well-known documentary film makers in tribute to him; it’s a composite of flashbacks, images of sorrow, and the preparation and execution of the incredible mass singing of the Royal Anthem in his honor by hundreds of thousands gathered outside the Grand Palace a few weeks following his death. I’m reduced to a puddle of tears every time I see it and hear the King’s voice in an address he gave in 1976:
- The Royal Anthem of Thailand – Mass singing for His Late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand) (offsite, opens in new window)
Here are a few more Youtube videos in English which will tell you the story why Thais love him so much. All links open in a new window.
- Special Tribute to HM King Bhumibo Adulyadej by Samantha Power at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly
- World Health Organization Tribute to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand
- Sufficiency Economy, The Greatest Gift from HM the KIng
- King Bhumibol of Thailand: The People’s King (working title) by History Channel
And if you have time, the BBC filmed an excellent 2–1/2 hour documentary on the royal family in 1979, which you can also watch on YouTube:
The above probably are enough to satisfy your interest, but should you be curious and wish to read more about the life of one of the greatest men to walk on this earth in the 20th century, here are my favorite books in the English language about him (although you may have a hard time finding most of them online):
- King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life’s Work by Nicholas Grossman (Editor-in-Chief); first published 2011; ISBN 978-981-4260-56-5
- King Bhumibol Adulyadej: Thailand’s Guiding Light (1996 The Post Publishing Public Co.. Ltd.); ISBN: 974-202-040-X
- The Mahidol Family by Parichat Khumraksa (Translator: M.R. Usnisa Sukhsvasti), 2014; ISBN 978-616-374-073-1
- King Bhumibol Adulyadej: The New Kingship (A Three-Volume Series: Vol. I : From Prince to King; Vol. II: Strength of the Land; Vol. III: By the Light of Your Wisdom) by Danai Chanchaochai; ISBN:978-974-9977-57-6 (an easy-read set)
- The Revolutionary King: The True-Life Sequel to ‘The King and I’ by William Stevenson (first published in 1999); ISBN: 1-84119-451-4
- The King of Thailand in World Focus (Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand, articles from the international press 1946-2006, first published 2007); Editor-in-Chief: Denis D. Gray; ISBN: 978-974-7348-54-5
There have also been dozens of songs penned and recorded by popular musicians in tribute to the King over his reign and following his death. Of course, they’re all in Thai except for two tributes by the international expat community in Bangkok. Here’s a nice one that I thought you might like (recorded a couple of years before his death):
I think I’ve more than overwhelmed you with information about my beloved King. See what a short nine-word question can get you? The King has been the focus of my life this year and it’s been very hard to accept that the hero of my life has left.
Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, September 2017