On June 9, 1996, citizens of Thailand celebrated the 50th anniversary of the accession to the throne of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Royal Thai Government, the Thai people, and friends around the world have organized year-long to commemorate this joyful and auspicious event. Having reigned for half a century, His Majesty is the longest-reigning Thai monarch.
The ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, established in the 18th century, King Bhumibol is revered for His intelligence, vision, grace, and for His concern for all His subjects. As the supreme guardian of Thailand's Buddhist religion, the King is the symbol of Thailand's cultural identity. A widely accepted Thai view is that the well-being and tranquillity of the nation mostly depend upon the morality of the ruler and the ruled. In this connection, the Thai people can consider themselves blessed since, throughout His reign, His Majesty has lived a virtuous life and devoted Himself to promoting public welfare, both material and spiritual.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic form of government. Since 1932, kings of Thailand have exercised their constitutional legislative powers through a bicameral National Assembly comprised of a House of Representatives elected by popular vote and a Senate appointed by the King upon recommendation of the Prime Minister. Thai kings exercise executive powers through the cabinet headed by a prime minister, and judicial powers through the law courts. While not directly involved in Thailand's political life, the King exerts a strong moral influence on carefully selected issues.
His Majesty the King was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 5, 1927. Married to Queen Sirikit, King Bhumibol is the father of four grown children. Like the King, all members of His royal family perform duties in the interest and welfare of the Thai people.
Known to many as the "working monarch", King Bhumibol travels the remote rural areas of the vast reaches of His country to develop more complete and first-hand understanding of the assets and hardships of His subjects. During His time on the throne, His Majesty has launched a multitude of development projects alleviating disease, promoting a better rural economy, and preserving and protecting Thailand's natural environment. A large number of projects result from His Majesty's own experimentation and are funded from His private funds. Projects showing satisfactory results are passed on to the Government for further development.
During the 50 years of King Bhumibol's reign, Thailand has enjoyed enviable economic growth. With its agrarian base and dynamic private sector as its bedrock, Thailand boasts a complex export-led economy which embraces the latest technologies and includes tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, minerals, and communications.