Seventy years ago, on June 9, 1946, Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne of Thailand as the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. His reign is the longest one in the history of Thailand and the longest reign of any current monarch. As if that were not enough, as of 2014, Forbes magazine estimated King Bhumibol’s wealth at about $30 billion, making him the richest royal in the world. His ascent to the throne, however, was marked by tragedy.
King Bhumibol came to the throne because of the mysterious death of his brother – King Ananda Mahidol, who was found dead in his bedroom of a single gunshot wound to the head on the morning of June 9, 1946. Next to his body was found a Colt .45 revolver. The dead king had been only twenty years old. Speculation has long reigned as to what happened on that fateful June day. Was it murder? If so, who committed it? The new king? The military? Someone else? Was it suicide? These questions remain open to this day, but are little discussed in Thailand. If you are interested in more details, check out this excellent Smithsonian article by Gilbert King from 2011.