His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej celebrates his Diamond Jubilee in Bangkok in June 2006. The year 2000 was Thai Airways International’s 40th Anniversary and the December 2000 edition of Kinnaree Magazine, which is placed on board all Thai Airways domestic flights in Thailand published an excellent article to celebrate His Majesty’s 73rd Birthday on 5th December 2000. This was written by Khun Amporn Samasorn in the Thai and English languages:
As the Author of Escape to Thailand it gives me great pleasure to bring you this article from the December 2000 Thai Airways Kinnaree Magazine to celebrate His Majesty The King’s Diamond Jubilee on 9th June 2006. His Majesty is probably the only Monarch in the world who has given his whole life for his Thai People.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand – A Model Goodwill Ambassador of the Country
For over half a century, the Kingdom of Thailand has had the great fortune to have the best and most effective goodwill ambassador in her great and beloved monarch, as well as members of the royal family. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has done more than anybody to forge cordial relations between Thailand and the world community.
As Head of State, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej executes his official duties with great care, attending to minute details. His presence at functions has always been meaningful. Envoys feel this when they present their credentials to the King or represent their countries at official functions. His Majesty is more than a constitutional monarch; indeed, he is the embodiment of Thailand.
Early in his reign, between December 1959 and June 1967, Thailand’s King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit made 31 state and official visits to foreign countries. The first was to Vietnam from December 18 to 21, 1959, and in the following year to Indonesia and Burma respectively from February 8 to 16 and March 2 to 5. Thereafter, in June 1960, Their Majesties embarked on an extended state visit to the United States of America and 13 European countries, which lasted seven months and four days.
On the first leg of the royal visit to the United States, the King and Queen spent four days in Hawaii before flying to California to tour Paramount and Desilu Movie Studios in Los Angeles. Their Majesties were portrayed touring Disneyland along with their children, HRH Princess Ubolratana, and HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, accompanied by Mr. Walt Disney. The King and Queen chatted with Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and sat on the set of “G. I. Blues” and flanked by Elvis Presley and Juliette Prowse.
On June 29, 1960, His Majesty addressed the Congress of the United States saying, in part:
“Firstly, I have long desired to see and learn more of your country. When I hear of intolerance and oppression in so many parts of the world, I want to know how, in this country, millions of people differing in
race, traditions and beliefs, can live together freely and harmoniously. How these millions, scattered over a large territory, can agree upon major issues in the complicated affairs of this world. How, in short, they can tolerate each other at all.
“Secondly, I wish to bring to you, in person, the greetings and goodwill of my own people. Although Americans and Thais live on opposite sides of the globe there is one thing in common – their love of freedom. Indeed, the word “Thai” actually means free. The kind reception I am enjoying in this country enables me to take back to my people your friendship and goodwill. Friendship, of one government for another, is an important thing. But, friendship of one people for another assuredly guarantees peace and progress.
“Thirdly, I have the natural, human desire to see my birthplace. I expect some of you here were also born in Boston or, like my father, were educated at Harvard, hasten to congratulate such fortunate people. I am sure they are with me in spirit. We share a sentiment of deep pride in the academic and cultural achievements of that wonderful city.”
His Majesty then touched on American aid for Thailand, saying:
“…American assistance is to enable Thai people to achieve their objectives through their own efforts. I need hardly say that this concept has our complete endorsement. Indeed, there is a precept of the Lord Buddha that says ‘Thou art thine own refuge.’ We are grateful for American aid, but we intend, one day, to do without it.
“This leads me to a question in which some of you may be interested which is: What do we Thais think of United States cooperation? I shall try to explain my view as briefly as I can.
“In my country, there is one widely accepted concept: that of family obligations.The members of a family, in the larger sense, are expected to help one another whenever there is need for assistance. Giving of aid is merit in itself: the giver does not expect to hear others singing his praises every day; nor does he expect anything in return. The receiver is nevertheless grateful. He too, in his turn, will carry out his obligations.
“In giving generous assistance to foreign countries, the United States is, through my Thai eyes, applying the old concept of family obligations on the larger scale. The nations of the world are learning that they are but members of one big family; that they have obligations to one another; that they are closely interdependent. It may take a long time to learn this lesson but, when it has been truly learnt, the prospects of world peace will become brighter.” His Majesty went on to remind U.S. congressmen of the smooth relationships enjoyed by both Thais and Americans from the early years of the United States of America’s nationhood”. Some of you may recall that my great-grandfather, King Mongkut, was in communication with President Buchanan during the years from 1859 to 1861 – 100 years ago. “President Buchanan sent him a letter dated May 10 1859 with a consignment of books in 192 volumes. The king was very pleased with the books and in a letter dated February 14 1861 sent certain presents in return as gifts to the American people and an offer that became historic.
“At that period of time, there was a great demand for elephants in our country and neighboring countries. Elephants had been sent to Ceylon, Sumatra and Java and turned loose in the jungles to breed. The result is that elephants are plentiful in those countries
“In the past, the elephant had great potential. From an economic point of view, elephants could be used in the timber industry to haul big logs and other heavy material, as tractors do today. As they can go through thick jungle, they were also used as beasts of burden for transportation purposes. And, in view of their enormous size and strength, in times of war enemies found them awesome foes. Since elephants could be put to a variety of good uses, and since they were available in large numbers in our country, my great grandfather made a gesture of friendliness. He offered to send elephants to the President and Congress to be turned loose for breeding in the uncultivated lands of America.
“That offer was made with no other objective other than to provide a friend with something he lacked, in the same spirit in which the American aid program is likewise offered. And, understanding and appreciating the sentiment underlying your aid program, the Thai Government welcomes the program and is grateful for it.
“Our two countries have had the best of relationships. They started with the coming of your missionaries who shared with our people the benefits of modern medicine and the knowledge of modern science. This soon led to official relations and to a treaty between the two nations. That treaty dates back to 1833.”
King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit were also in New York City where they were given a traditional parade and ticker-tape welcome. On July 5, 1960 His Majesty made a private visit to the apartment of Benny Goodman and got into a jazz session with Goodman, Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, Urbie Green, Jonah Jones and Red Norvo. These jazz “legends” called His Majesty a “cool cat” and said that he could join their bands if ever he needed a job!
Their Majesties went on to visit the King’s birthplace at Mount Auburn Hospital’, and met Dr. Stewart Whittemore who delivered him into the world. His Majesty was presented with a gold-worked, leather-bound book, which contained a certified copy of his birth certificate signed by Dr. Whittemore. The King also met the four nurses who cared for him at birth.
From the United States of America, the King and Queen went on to the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Italy, the Vatican City, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Spain.
They arrived back home on January 18, 1961 to a tumultuous welcome from the Thai people. Their return remains a momentous event in the life of the nation.
In 1962, Their Majesties paid a state visit to Pakistan, Malaya, New Zealand and Australia. Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines were on the royal schedule in 1963.
Between September 29 and October 5, 1964, the King and Queen made a memorable state visit to Austria, where His Majesty’s musical compositions were performed by the Nieder Osterreich Tonkustler
Orchestra in the Vienna Concert Hall. On the final day, His Majesty was accorded honorary membership of Vienna’s Academy of Arts and Music; the first Asian and only the 21st honorary member.
Later, Their Majesties made official visits to the Federal Republic of Germany from August 22 to 28, 1966, and Austria again from September 29 to October 2, 1966.
During a state visit to Iran, from April 23 to 30, 1967, the King and Queen celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary on April 28.
Official visits were made, again, to the United States in June 1967 with functions in Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts. The royal couple proceeded, on June 22, 1967, to visit EXPO ’67 in Montreal, Canada, followed by a visit to Washington D.C. on June 27.
Thereafter, the only state visit to a foreign country by His Majesty was to the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, following the inauguration of the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. And this year Her Majesty Queen Sirikit represented His Majesty on a 16 day state visit to the People’s Republic of China, marking the 25th anniversary of Sino-Thai diplomatic relations.
As proclaimed by a German newspaper, King Bhumibol is Thailand. And Thailand is King Bhumibol! Nothing more, or better, is to be said.