Following King Prajadhipok's (Rama VII) abdication, the next in line of royal succession was young Prince Ananda Mahidol. At the time, the Prince was only nine years old and attending school in Switzerland.
After the coronation the new King returned to his studies and in his absence the country was governed by three regents and a number of prime ministers. In 1935, Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram (sometimes simply called “Pibun") was the Prime Minister. Pibulsonggram was a military dictator who had pro-western and anti-Chinese views. He implemented policies that he hoped would raise Siam's prestige so that it was no longer be seen by the Western world as an undeveloped and barbaric country. In 1939, Pibulsonggram changed the name of the country from Siam to Thailand, he also encouraged the people to adopt western attire and later he decreed that January 1 would be the official start of the New Year instead of the traditional date of April 13.
On 8 December 1941, Thailand entered the Second World War when Japanese forces invaded and occupied the country. Under Prime Minister Pibulsonggram, Thailand became a formal ally of the Empire of Japan and a member of the Axis alliance (joining Germany, Italy and Japan). Thailand declared war on the Allied forces and as a result Bangkok suffered heavily from Allied bombing raids. The destruction of Bangkok combined with economic hardship, made both the war and the regime of Plaek Pibulsonggram very unpopular. In 1944, the National Assembly reconvened and removed Pibulsonggram from office and electing the liberal lawyer Khuang Aphaiwong to replace him as Prime Minister.
In 1945, King Ananda Mahidol returned to Thailand with a degree in law. By now he was a handsome 20 year old man and the Thai people delighted in having their King with them again.
Tragically, on June 6 1946, barely six months after his arrival back in Thailand, the King was found dead in his bedroom in the Grand Palace, he had a gun shot wound to the head. Whether his death was accidental or otherwise remains to be proven, but the King's death was a dreadful loss to the Thai nation.
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Article written by Christine Oatley.
Asia Products LLC Thailand Discovery Pages provides articles a variety of topics including current events, politics, and travel ideas for learning about Thailand. Asia Products LLC also offers an e-commerce store selling Thailand products on http://www.asiaproductsllc.com. He is documenting some of his more interesting travels in his Thailand Travel Pages website : http://www.apllc-connect.com.