King Bhumibol AdulyadejRoyalty
Born: 5 December 1927
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Best known as: King of Thailand since 1946
King Bhumibol Adulyadej (also known as Rama IX) has been Thailand's monarch and head of state since 1946. Raised and educated in the United States and Switzerland, he was the youngest child of Prince Mahidol, a direct descendant of King Chulalongkorn (also known as Rama V). A long shot to take over the throne, Bhumibol became king after the unexpected death of his older brother, Ananda Mahidol, who had officially inherited the post in 1935. Bhumibol was only 19 when he succeeded his brother, and his first few years were spent finishing his education abroad. By 1951 he was back in Thailand for good and married to Queen Sirikit. During his long reign he has amassed a personal fortune and risen above topsy-turvy Thai politics to a point of near-absolute authority. Highly revered by the public, he's had a history of only intervening in politics when national stability is threatened. Otherwise he has occupied himself touring the country and working on agricultural and medical reform, while also earning a reputation as a first-class jazz musician (mostly saxophone), as well as painter, photographer and sculptor. King Bhumibol is the world's longest-reigning monarch and, reportedly, one of the richest.
Extra credit: King Bhumibol's brother was found shot to death in his bed, with his own handgun nearby. Officially the death is simply ruled "mysterious." Although there's little that implicates Bhumibol in his brother's death, the matter remains clouded in part because insulting the dignity of the king can lead to criminal prosecution in Thailand... King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit have three daughters and one son.
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