King of Siam Rama VIII
Rama VIII, the Joy of His Father
Ananda Mahidol is the nephew of King Vajiravudh (King Rama VI). His name means the joy of his father (Mahidol). Young Ananda was born in Germany. He was the grandson of King Rama V. He traveled with his parents to Paris, Lausanne and Massachusetts. His uncle, King Rama VII issued a royal degree to elevate the princes into a higher class. After his father finished his medical studies at Harvard University, the whole family went home to Thailand. His father died at the early age of 37 leaving him and his siblings to be raised alone by their mother. When his father was alive he used his skills as a physician to create a healthier life for his countrymen. His mother was known for being brilliant and was an enterprising woman. She also devote her time to helping the needy.
A coup d’etat ended the absolute monarchy which prompted his grandmother to whisk him away back to Lausanne because of the possible threat to young Ananda’s life. After King Rama VII abdicated the throne, his mother was asked about the possibility of Ananda replacing his uncle as King. At this time the government was under a constitution which places the final decision on the hands of the Cabinet members. It was a matter of convenience to choose Prince Ananda as the next king. He was not a threat at age nine years old. He was also busy studying in Switzerland. The world was in a Great Depression at this time and everybody in his country was surprised with his appointment as King.
Since the new king was but a child, the National Assembly appointed several high officials as his regents to govern the country while he was still in Switzerland. At 13 years old, Ananda visited his country as its King for the very first time. During that time Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram was the Prime Minister and a well known military dictator. He was the one who changed the name of Siam to Thailand. The Prime Minister involved Thailand in the French Indochina wars. In World War II, Thailand allied itself with Japan thus declaring war against the Allied forces. After Japan’s surrender to Allied forces, Thailand fell under British rule. King Rama VIII, when he returned to Thailand, was armed with his degree in Law. Ananda was known for being more westernized than Eastern when it comes to his tastes.
He loved playing his saxophone and would spend his time driving around in his American jeep along the palace grounds. Even if he was inexperienced, his countrymen revere him. He was viewed by foreigners to be a frightened boy who was not prepared for the responsibility as king. He was found shot dead in his bedroom a few days before he was scheduled to go back to Switzerland to finish his doctoral degree in Law. His death was shrouded in mystery and remains unsolved to this day. This ended his reign and begun the reign for his younger brother as the next King of Thailand, King of Siam Rama IX (King Bhumibol Adulyadej.