Bhumibol at his coronation, 1950

“Look at me! I’d make a better king than my brother.”

Bhumibol at his coronation, 1950

In a previous article three months ago, I shared some intriguing audio files from “The Landon Chronicles”, the recorded reminiscences of Kenneth Landon, who was the U.S. State Department’s top Thailand expert in the 1940s and 1950s, and his wife Margaret, author of the famous book Anna and the King of Siam. I’m still going through the 90 hours of material, and have found a very interesting — and eerie — anecdote in hour 70.

Landon describes going to the Grand Palace on the evening of December 26, 1945, for drinks with King Ananda Mahidol, Prince Bhumibol Adulyadej, and their mother Sangwan. Suddenly the power failed and they were plunged into darkness. The 18-year-old Bhumibol illuminated his face with a lighter and said: “Look at me! I’d make a better king than my brother.” Then he snapped off the light, and it was pitch dark once again…

As Landon says, it was a prophetic moment, because on June 9, 1946, Bhumibol shot and killed his brother Ananda, and became King Rama IX of Thailand.