Excellence in Arts and Sciences
With the traits inherited from both the Prince Father and the Princess Mother, and with his perfect upbringing and training, His Majesty the King attaches great importance to education and lifelong learning. Moreover, in the diverse hobbies and recreations that interest him, he focuses intently to the point of mastering them all.
The Princess Mother wanted all three royal children to use their time fruitfully in accordance with their ages. She emphasized their foreign language studies, along with studies of the Thai language and the principles of Buddhism, while arranging for them equal time to study and to play. They were encouraged to play outdoors, using or inventing implements from natural products. Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana used the phrase "Playing with water, bonfire, irrigation, and reforestation" under one of the photographs in her book Young Royals - Young Monarchs
It was obvious that the two young monarchs preferred mechanisms, motors, and all types of vehicles. They both loved to invent their playthings, using available materials. The Childcare Center at Champ Soleil, where the three royals stayed occasionally, offered language lessons and skill training. The same system was applied at the public school they later attended, where they both took language courses, studying Latin and English, with German as a compulsory subject, gardening and carpentry as supplementary subjects.
During their stay in Switzerland, both before and after each monarch had assumed the throne, the Princess Mother arranged for them to take up winter sports. His Majesty the King excelled in skiing. They also took up boating on the lake, and made their own wind gliders to be flown.
In Young Royals - Young Monarchs
, Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana told of how the two royal brothers set up a club of two to administer their hobbies, named Club Patapoum, with the two royals taking various posts. The Club collected a large amount of money from the two royals' own savings. She described the hobbies of the two young monarchs-to-be:
When they took interest in warships of World War I, they bought books to study in detail. They both knew the features of the ships and their roles in various battles. They then took up nationalities. The Eighth Monarch chose Germany, and the Ninth Monarch Britain and America.
Also in phonographic recordings, they divided the responsibilities. The Eighth Monarch chose Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, while the Ninth Monarch opted for Duke Ellington and Count Basie. In buying recordings, they spent their own money for jazz, and were reimbursed (from Mother) for classical.
While staying on a mountain, (King Ananda) saw an artisan who visited houses to repair pots and pans. He found the repairing method quite interesting. Coming back to Lausanne, he bought lead scraps in sticks or pieces that were thrown away and sold by weight, and had this melted in a designated pot. He then poured the liquid into a mold made of plaster. At first he made paperweights, pretending they were gold. Later, he used plasticene in the place of plaster and modeled tiny heads, to be plated in a solution of lead and tin from toothpaste tubes. Pins were then attached, making them lapel pins. Once a heavy lead scrap slipped from his grip and smashed the washbasin. Although Mother demanded only half the price as compensation, the cost was still very high for him.
They started photographing together. But the Eighth Monarch later gave up. The Ninth Monarch said that he spent 250 francs on his first camera, and 0.25 francs for one roll of film, six exposures each. He damaged five in the first roll. The one that came out was taken by someone else.
We also cooked together. We once made veal tenderloin a` la cre`me in a toy oven, made butter by manually battering cream, and helped Naen make peanut butter. The Ninth Monarch invented one dish called Khai Phra Athit - Sun Omelet. It was an omelet with baked rice, somewhat like dark spots in the surface of the sun.
It was in music that they long played together. The Eighth Monarch started with piano because I was then taking piano lessons. The Ninth Monarch opted for an accordion, but gave up after a few lessons, "Because it does not go with the piano." But then the Eighth Monarch gave up piano. When we were at Arosa one winter, they saw a grand orchestra performing at the hotel and wanted to play music. A second-hand saxophone was bought at 300 francs. Mother paid half of that and Club Patapoum the other half. When the teacher came, the Eighth Monarch pushed the Royal Brother in first. So the Ninth Monarch started with the lesson. After a few sessions, the Eighth Monarch bought a clarinet for his personal use. The teacher taught them for half an hour each, and then the teacher brought his own saxophone and played with them as a trio. That went on for six months, and then the Royal Brother went to the boarding school. He, however, continued the music lesson by riding a bicycle down to the teacher's shop. During these few years, a clarinet was purchased for 200 francs. Later, the Eighth Monarch bought an old saxophone, and his friend taught him piano. They also made musical instruments such as a drum made of wood and cardboard, and a bass made of a wooden barrel and ordinary wire.
Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana also related evidence of His Majesty the King's special talents. She said that His Majesty told her about how he became interested in diverting water and building dams when he was playing. She only realized that when she interviewed him in 1986. He said that, when at Le Foyer School in Les Ple`iades in 1934 and 1935, he noticed and memorized the method used there in bringing water into the pool for children to play in. They diverted water from a stream nearby through a shallow path, covered with clay and smoothed with bottles. She also touched on other remarkable incidents:
Concerning technical matters, be they mechanics, electricity, or radio, he mastered the subjects from the time he was a child. Someone has already told the story of how he fixed Naen's sewing machine, but I would like to tell it as Mother told me. Normally Mother would not let anyone give anything to her children, except on their birthdays or on New Year's Day. One day, she noticed that the Royal Brother was playing with a new toy car. When she knew that it was Naen who gave him that car, she took issue with Naen, asking why she did so. Naen answered that the Royal Brother had fixed the sewing machine, so it was just a reward.
And he told me that he was not allowed to touch the radio set at home, as it was there only to listen to for news and information. But when he was about 10 years old, he had the opportunity to build his own. There was a fair at the school, with tickets drawn for prizes. His ticket won an electric coil. He asked a knowledgeable person how to make a radio set with that. He was told to buy a black mineral (galena, galenite, or PbS, lead sulphide), the main component of a radio receiver, with which to make the receiver of electrons or radio waves in the atmosphere, and a pair of headphones, all costing about 10 francs. He somehow put them together and could receive broadcasts. He shared the headphones with his brother, King Ananda, who later bought his personal headphones.
When His Majesty returned to the country in 1938, a company presented him with a Philips radio receiver, and he brought it back to Lausanne. The two brothers first listened to it together as they shared the same bedroom. But later, King Ananda moved to another room, leaving the radio set with the Royal Brother, who linked it to a loudspeaker in His Majesty's room so that he could listen to the radio as usual.
One day I was in my room and put a recording on the machine, which carried the sound to the loudspeaker of the radio set. The Royal Brother happened to turn on his radio and was wondering which station it was that played the same music as that of his sister. After that he grasped the fact that the sound wave traveled anywhere through the electrical system.
His Majesty the King grew up primarily in Europe, and used different foreign languages in his formal education up to the tertiary level. However, he never lost his interest in the Thai language, as mentioned by Professor Emeritus Dr. Khun Kanda Thammongkol in her article "His Majesty the King and His Talents in the Use of Language," published in a special issue of Language Review Journal
Although His Majesty the King lived in a foreign country from the age of five, the first language that he learnt was Thai. His Majesty said that before going abroad, he could already recite from ko (the first letter in the Thai alphabet) to ngo (the seventh letter).
When he went abroad, and lived in Switzerland at the age of five, he started his kindergarten class there. He remained in Switzerland from 5 to 18 years of age. During those years, he attended schools all the time. From kindergarten, he enrolled in a Montessori-type school, which emphasized sensorial and brain development and allowed children to direct their own learning. The language used at that time was French. He started with German and Latin at the age of 11 and was quite good at Latin. As for English, when he was very young, there were two English teachers who were hired to read children's stories to him. He first took English lessons when he was 14 years old. He learned English partly from listening to news on the BBC, as suggested by the Princess Mother. His Majesty the King is a true self-training person, as seen from his Thai language study. His Majesty in fact took up the Thai language seriously for a brief period when he was 18 years old. In the beginning, his Thai was quite limited. Later, when he became interested in radio communication, there emerged the need to write for the teletype, and he was trained in Thai writing. He sought more Thai and English studies by himself. His knowledge of Latin gave him a firm foundation. He knows the roots of words very well. His Majesty prefers rare words, not commonly used. He is a keen linguist, as seen from his meticulous choice of words in royal addresses and speeches. When officials present a draft speech drawn in accordance with His Majesty's concept, he carefully checks it for syntax, composition, and meaning, to make sure that the words used represent his ideas accurately. But royal addresses on December 4, the eve of His Majesty's Birthday Anniversary each year, are all delivered extempore, without prepared scripts.
His Majesty the King is a rhetorician, a translator, a critic, and a composer, with both musical and literary works widely recognized and admired. It was astonishing that after a brief study of the Thai language, his first literary work was a publication for the 100th-day commemoration of the death of King Ananda Mahidol, Rama VIII, on 20 September 1946, under the title "The Eighth Monarch's Royal Activities," an official record of the Reign, describing royal activities in proper royal words:
His Majesty the King was keenly interested in traveling to visit the people in the suburbs of the capital city, namely Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Phra Pradaeng, Pak Kret, Samut Sakhon, Chachoengsao, and Bang Khen. Within the city, His Majesty visited Sampheng, allowing immigrants and foreign residents to be in attendance.
His Majesty would depart from the royal residence in the morning, often before the morning meal. Later on, when leaving early, His Majesty took some light food before leaving, and was served the morning meal in the royal barge or at the destination. Lunch was served at noon or at one in the afternoon. His Majesty let officials and related personnel share the dining table with him. After lunch, His Majesty took a brief rest and performed other activities in the afternoon.
His Majesty the King normally arrived back at the Grand Palace around 5 in the afternoon.
It was not only a proper and accurate official record of the Reign, but also an important historical record of the country, and the first such record of a reign made by the succeeding monarch. At a personal level, it was a flashback of the final moments in the life of King Ananda Mahidol, by the Royal Brother who went with him everywhere like a shadow or a twin brother. It was also a tribute paid to King Rama VIII by one close to him.
Around that same period, the Thai people were greatly moved by a brief remark that described the intimate relationship between the two monarchs, who were "more than siblings," as mentioned by Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana in her book Young Royals - Young Monarchs:
I can not for a moment stop thinking of you, my brother. I once thought that I would not be far from you all my life. But it was destiny. I never thought I would become a king. All I ever wanted to be was your younger brother.
Whether at work or at leisure, His Majesty the King took his responsibilities seriously and strived for excellence in all undertakings, with his personal character and traits inherited from his royal parents. It is therefore not surprising that His Majesty has been accorded such titles as the Supreme Artist, the Father of Royal Rain-Making, the Agriculture King, the Father of Thai Inventions, the Development King, and several others, as evidence of His Majesty's achievement of excellence in science and the arts.