Never-never land

In a never-never land, never mind

On March 24, 1950, King Bhumibol Adulyadej arrived back in Siam after an absence of almost four years. After the March 29 cremation of his elder brother King Ananda Mahidol, who had been shot dead in the Grand Palace on June 9, 1946, two happier ceremonies followed. Bhumibol married his fiancé Sirikit Kitiyakara on April 28, and on May 4-5, he formally crowned himself king.

A British newsreel records the king’s wedding and coronation:

A confidential cable by British ambassador Geoffrey Thompson provides intriguing background to these events. There are interesting comments in sections 5 and 6 on British and American opposition to King Bhumibol’s plans to return to Lausanne after his wedding and coronation. The cable is also illuminating because of the resentment it shows towards the United States. There was considerable rivalry during the late 1940s and 1950s between Britain, which had considered itself to have special influence in Siam before World War II, and the United States, which was becoming the dominant foreign power in Thailand, pouring soldiers and funds into the country to fight communism in Indochina.

Section 3 of the cable shows the ambassador’s distaste for the behaviour of American journalists: he complains that one U.S. correspondent “loudly clacked his fingers at a silent moment to get the King to glance in his direction” during the festivities for Bhumibol’s homecoming, and adds that a “somewhat sneering” article in Time magazine caused “bitter resentment” in Siam.

Here’s the article that Thompson was complaining about.

You can view and download a PDF of the Time article here.

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