King Bhumibol Adulyadej, age 88, died today at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok.
The king has been in the hospital off and on for over 10 years fighting sometimes serious illnesses. He was currently hospitalized for an operation to widen his heart arteries. He was not able to recover.
King Bhumibol has reigned for over 70 years and was the longest reigning monarch in the world until his death. It is difficult to imagine Thailand without King Bhumibol.
The Thai nation is in deep mourning for their beloved king. As soon as his death was announced, the thousands surrounding the hospital to pray for him burst into tears and wails. He will be sorely missed.
I have had the honor of meeting the king on numerous occasions and have actually traveled with him during some of his visits to poor rural villages to inspect projects he initiated to raise the quality of life of his subjects. He was a brilliant man, I would say a kind of Renaissance Man who was born in the United States and trained in engineering in Switzerland. He invented several clever inventions, including a patented method of seeding clouds to produce rain. He was a philosopher who lectured at length on what he called, “Sufficiency Economics”, basically a philosophy of living that one should provide enough for one’s own needs and the family’s needs, and then give to others who were needy. It is philosophy based on GIVE and not GREED. He was also a painter and accomplished Jazz clarinet player who wrote some very noteworthy songs. Throughout his career as king, he visited every province in his kingdom, accompanied by his wife, Queen Sirikit, and other members of his family. He single-handedly halted opium production in Thailand by teaching the hill tribes that they could make more money growing fruits and vegetables instead of opium. One could write a book about his many accomplishments.
I have been asked who will now reign. The answer is that Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, the king’s 63-year-old son, is heir apparent.
Please pray for the royal family during this time of transition. It will be difficult for Thailand. I know your prayers will be much appreciated by the royal household and our many Thai friends.