His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States of America, on December 5, 1927, the third and youngest child of Their Royal Highness Prince and Princess Mahidol of Songkhla. He is the direct grandson of His Late Majesty King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) who was renowned for introducing great reforms and developments to Thailand.
His Majesty graduated from the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the Lausanne University in Switzerland.
He ascended to the throne on June 9, 1946. His marriage to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit took place on April 28, 1950. They have four children, namely, Her Royal Highness Princess Ubol Ratana, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and HRH Princess Chulabhorn.
King Bhumibol is seen today as a monarch serving as \"the primary expression of the historical continuity and integrity of the Thai nation state.\" He continues to demonstrate extraordinary leadership in sponsoring nation-wide programs in environmental protection, water and forest preservation, fish production and sustainable agriculture. His visionary projects \"not only provide lasting benefits to current and future generations in Thailand\" but also \"set an example to which other nations and leaders throughout the world can aspire.\"
Activities concerning development
Throughout the 60 years starting with his accession to the throne, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has traveled all over the Thai Kingdom, thus establishing a connection with his people that engenders their deep and lasting devotion as well as great appreciation for his unwavering dedication to their welfare. He has paid regular visits to his subjects in all the regions, especially the remote and impoverished areas. As a result, more than 3,000 royally-initiated projects have been set up since 1952.
These projects can be divided to include: water resource development projects to facilitate farming; the construction of roads to facilitate transport of goods to the market; research to find new plant species suitable for the terrain; projects involving the administration and management of natural resources - soil, water, and forests - so that they may be sustainable. There are also projects concerning the economy, society, public health, and supplementary occupations.
Through the Office of the Royal Development Project Board, several countries have sent requests for assistance or for permission to observe the operations of the royally-initiated projects.
Philosophy of sufficiency economy
The target of the numerous royally-initiated projects is \"the development of man to be self-reliant.\" Therefore, King Bhumibol\'s approach involves step-by-step development, meaning urgent problems must be solved in the initial stage and other issues of lesser priority are to be dealt with gradually. The projects must also be economical. His Majesty aims to make the village communities strong first before they can expand.
According to one of his significant principles, development must be suitable to the geographical and social conditions. There must be proper promotion of knowledge and modern technology. Development must be based on the principles of sustainable conservation and the development of natural resources.
The Thai monarch believes in \"sufficiency economy,\" which he sees as \"the use of what we have in a correct and suitable way.\" This philosophy provides a guideline on how to live and behave for people at all levels, from the family to the community to the government, both in developing and administering the country.
In the initial stages, the royally-initiated projects often stressed the construction of the infrastructure. Subsequently, King Bhumibol set up the six Royal Development Study Centers to represent the different geographical conditions of each region, so that they may be One Stop Service Centers for the farmers\' study and research. The results of the successful studies are demonstrated as a living natural museum, a comprehensive exhibition showing all aspects of life. Visitors can observe new technologies and the economical and sustainable use of natural resources. Those interested may seek knowledge at all times and make a request to be trained in the subjects they desire.
Meanwhile His Majesty\'s \"new theory\" for agriculture proposes guidelines for the proper management of limited natural resources to achieve optimum benefit. As a result, the farmers will have all the food they need for consumption in the first year. They are basically self-reliant concerning food and also have work to do all year round.
If successful, some farmers will follow the second phase of the \"new theory\" by forming groups to sell their surplus, thereby initiating production, marketing, and social grouping, resulting in the forming of a cooperative. This leads to the third phase, which involves an expansion of operation to facilitate a higher level of business dealing, requiring funding from outside sources such as banks or private companies to set up funds to carry out activities for further benefit.