The most momentous criminal trial in Thailand’s history began on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 28, 1948, in a courthouse inside the Ministry of Justice beside the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The three men in the dock were accused of conspiracy to murder King Ananda Mahidol, Rama VIII of Siam, who had been found dead in his bed in the Grand Palace on June 9, 1946, shot through the head. He was 20 years old.
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When it finally came, King Bhumibol’s tragic fall from grace was swift and savage.
Thailand celebrated Rama IX’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2006. It was 60 years since the 18-year old Bhumibol had accidentally killed his brother and become king of Siam. Now the elderly monarch was revered by most Thais and admired around the world as a visionary leader who had fused ancient tradition and modern statecraft to forge a stable democratic nation. Five days of royal pageantry marked the occasion, amid an outpouring of adoration from Thailand’s people and an impressive show of respect from the shrinking ranks of royal families around the world. Thirteen reigning monarchs attended the celebrations in person, and 12 others sent royal representatives; only two monarchies were missing. All over the country, Thais dressed in yellow to honour Bhumibol, and wore orange wristbands with the slogan “Long Live the King.”
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