King Rama VIII (1934-1946)


His Majesty King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) was the 2nd monarch of the Chakri Dynasty to be crowned king under the new Constitutiional Monarchy System. Born on September 20, 1925 in Heidelberg, Germany, he was the first son of HRH Prince Sonkhla Nakarind and Somdej Phra Sri Nakarindhara, with one elder sister, Princess Galyani Vadhana and a one younger brother, then, Prince Bhumibol Adulyadej. At the tender age of ten, he was crowned King Rama VIII. At the time he was attending school on Switzerland. His father was one of King Rama V's sons and having done much for the country in the field of medicine. His mother is most brilliant and a very enterprising person who devotes her time attending to the needs of the people. 

His coronation came as a compete surprise and was most unexpected as at that time the entire world was in a state of turmoil because of worldwide economic depression.

King Rama VIII visited Thailand when he was 13 years old, accompanied by his royal mother, elder sister and younger brother. The Thai people were most excited to see their very young king who had grown up in a foreign country. What they witnessed was an extremely gentle but serious minded person, especially after having heard about his interview graciously given to the foreign press on his many pending duties and responsibilities. The Thai people admired him greatly and talked about him endlessly. When he departed to finish his education, thousands of people went to see him off, wishing him the best of luck and a speedy return.

Seven years later, King Rama VIII returned to Thailand for the second time together with HRH the Princess Mother and his brother Prince Bhumibol. King Ananda Mahidol was heartedly welcomed wherever he went. At official function the young king would appear serious and dignified. But the gentleness was always there making people love and revere him for his sincerity and firmness in whatever he wanted to do for the good of the country.

What really impressed the people was his close and personal visits to communities both in Bangkok and the surrounding areas.He made people feel confident that their king was their protector. His mannerism was always bland and he was always at home when ever he talked to people.

One memorable occasion was when he visited "Sampheng", a district that King Rama I had given to Phtaya Rajasetthi and the Chinese community when they moved out of the site where and the present day Grand Palace is located and where they had engaged in business peacefully since the construction of Bangkok. The Government managed to put a stop to the unrest by arresting a number of Chinese who were responsible. Even though the situation was soon under control many Chinese still held grudges.

King Rama VIII decided that the problem had to be resolved and harmony restored since the Thais and Chinese had been living in peace together for ages. He could have requested the Chinese community to send representatives for talks at the palace but in steady he chose to visit the Chinese community.

This was an extremely difficult undertaking since Sampheng was a business center with rows of shop houses located on both sides of the road. When news reached Samphaeng that His Majesty King Anada Mahidol and HRH Prince Bhumibol would visit the community, all the Chinese and businessmen in the vicinity were overwhelmed with delight. Preparations for receiving the Monarch were immediately under taken; roads were repaired and all shops set up alters in front of their shops creating the most reverential atmosphere. All, young and old alike, kowtowed in front of their shops to pay homage to their king.

In the meantime the Thais, witnessing the deep loyalty and high esteem the Chinese showed to His Majesty the King, like all typical Thais, forgot their anger and over display of violence which could have developed into something very serious. His visit of the country and the people of Thailand.

King Ananda Mahidol was most deeply loved and respected for his gentleness, sincerity, and intellectual.

On June 9,1946, at about a little past nine in the morning, the saddest news hit the air - His Majesty the King had died. People broke down and cried and many just simply would not believe it until an official announcement was broadcast. "Ever since June 2 of this year, His Majesty the King had been having stomach trouble causing fatigue and debility. His Majesty, however, still continued to make personal visits to places. But as his condition deteriorated he remained inside the palace not making any appearances as scheduled. On June 9 of this year, His Majesty woke up at 6.00 a.m. and had taken castor oil after which he conducted the morning routine before turning in again. At about 9.00 a.m., pages of the royal chamber arid a gunshot from the inside and on immediate investigation discovered His Majesty lying on the bed with blood on his body and already dead. The royal page, therefore, reported the incident to HRH Princess Mother who immediately rushed into the royal chamber to see what had happened. Afterwards, members of the Cabinet came to pay their respects. The Director-General of the Police Department and the autopsy followed later by investigations. It is surmised that His Majesty toying with a pistol as was his wont with firearms and it accidentally went off.

The entire country dressed in black and melancholy prevailed in every corner of the nation. Thousands of sad-hearted people paid their last respects to their beloved king. Many came for months to the Grand Palace where his body rested with tears in their eyes.

Even though his reign was short and required a Council of Regency since he was quite young then, King Rama VIII still managed to conduct his many tasks exceptionally well. His warm and graceful personality earned him the tremendous love and respect of Thais as well as aliens residing within the country. Their memory of His Majesty King Ananda Mahidol will remain vivid in the minds of the Thais for many years to come. 



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