UN General Assembly Pays Tribute to Thailand’s King Bhumibol

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As the interregnum in the Chakri dynasty throne entered its 15th day the 27th plenary meeting of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly paused to pay tribute to the life of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) who died October 13, 2016, ending a reign of more than 70 years (See: End Of Days: Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej Dead).

As tens of thousands of people flocked to Thailand’s Grand Palace after being granted permission to prostrate – a practice reintroduced during the reign of Rama IX – themself before traditional royal urn, or Kot, or to sign the condolence book, the international world body observed a one minute period of silence.

After hearing from out-going UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Thailand delegation then heard tributes presented on behalf of various global groupings, including the Group of: African States, Asia-Pacific States, Eastern European States, Latin American and Caribbean States, and the Western European and other States.

Thailand’s King Bhumibol “A Lifetime Friend”

US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Samantha Power, addresses the 27th plenary meeting of the seventy-first session of UN General Assembly on the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Video uploaded to YouTube by Ambassador Samantha Power

 

Representing the UNs host nation, US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Samantha Power said she “felt privileged to represent the host country of the United Nations so as to have the chance to address you on such an important occasion”.

Extending the deepest condolences of the people of the United States to Queen Sirikit, the queen dowager of Thailand, her children and grandchildren, and to the people of Thailand, Ambassador Power described Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej as “not only a lifelong friend and partner to the United States, but he also had deep personal ties to our nation.”

Although Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej had only lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts as an infant, Ms Power  recalled that when she used to walk to and from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government her path often took her through King Bhumibol Square, which sits adjacent to the Kennedy School, and was named in honour of his birth.

Ms Power also recalled a media interview with Thailand’s King Bhumibol in which he said that he cared very little about how history remembered him. ‘“If they want to write about me in a good way, they should write how I do things that are useful”‘, she said.

Paying tribute to his hands-on approach and the extensive time he spent in rural Thailand with the grassroots population, Ms Power said: “In the eyes of His Majesty, doing things that were useful meant finding a way to solve the problems that affected real people – most importantly, the vulnerable and marginalised”.

King Bhumibol’s Message to US Congress

Former US president Lyndon B. Johnson and the first lady welcome Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit to the Whitehouse in 1967.
Video uploaded to YouTube by CriticalPast

 

Ms Power also noted that at the age of 32 Thailand’s King Bhumibol addressed a joint session of the US Congress at the invitation of then US president Dwight Eisenhower during which he said: ‘”The giving of aid is a merit in itself. The giver does not expect to hear others sing his praises every day; nor does he expect any return. The receiver is nevertheless grateful. He too, in his turn, will carry out his obligations”.

Although King Bhumibol Adulyadej last visited the UN in 1967, leaders of the UN frequently visited Thailand to meet with him. In May 2006 on one such visit then secretary-general Kofi Annan presented King Bhumibol Adulyadej with the UN Development Program’s (UNDP) first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award at Klai Kangwol Palace, Hua Hin.

A search of the UN photo archives unveils a treasure-trove of historic photos of the King. In addition to UN secretary-general’s Dag Hammarskjöld, and Kofi Annan, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit also met UN Secretary-general’s, U Thant in 1967 and Kurt Waldheim in 1973

The condolence session came at a time when the Chakri throne interregnum, something that is virtually unheard of in hereditary monarchies, continues. Chakri dynasty heir-apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn reportedly flew out of Bangkok on board his personal Boeing 737-448 for Germany on Friday without having had his name put forward as the next King of Thailand as described in the Thailand Constitution (See: End Of Days: Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej Dead), leaving many to ponder whether Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s title of longest reigning living monarch might be replaced by the longest royal interregnum in history.

 

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