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Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Thai King celebrates record
King Bhumibol
The King commands deep affection
Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej has become the country's longest living monarch.

The 72-year-old king, who came to the throne 54 years ago, is already the world's longest reigning living monarch.

He has seen more than 20 prime ministers serve in Thailand, overseen 16 constitutions, and witnessed 17 coups.
King Bhumibol
King Bhumibol: Homage to King Rama I

King Bhumibol, who is accorded God-like status among his people, begins the 26,470th day of his life at midnight on Tuesday.

He surpasses King Rama I who died on 23 May, 1809, when he was 26,469 days old.

The King and Queen performed religious rites on Tuesday to pay homage to King Rama I, who founded the Chakri dynasty and the capital Bangkok, at his ancient throne hall.

Revered

King Bhumibol has been revered as the one constant in Thai life during successive political and economic crises.

He was born on 5 December, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the US where his father was studying medicine.

The young prince, who was educated in Switzerland, was 18 when the monarchy was thrust on him in 1946 after his brother died prematurely.

He married Mom Rajawongse Sirikit in 1949 and they have four children.

The King, who is fluent in three European languages, is considered a gifted composer, particularly of jazz, and is a keen photographer and painter.

Royal row

The reverence accorded to the Thai royal family was evident earlier this year when censors banned a remake of the classic film, The King and I, saying it was an insult to the monarchy.

Anna and the King, which starred Jodie Foster, told the story of an English governess in the 19th century court of King Rama IV.

But censors said it was historically inaccurate and listed more than 30 points deemed insulting to the Thai monarchy.

The Hollywood studio, 20th Century Fox, had to film in neighbouring Malaysia due to the acrimony felt over the story in Thailand.

King Bhumibol has reportedly seen both Anna and the King and The King and I, which was also banned when it came out in 1956.

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See also:

28 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Thais banish Anna and the King
05 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Last chance for Anna and the King
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