The crown’s last vestiges of real power had been stripped away following a coup d’état in 1932, but the feuding elite factions that controlled Thailand were content to have a weak king on the throne to provide the facade of legitimacy.

French President General de Gaulle (second from left) and his wife Yvonne de Gaulle (left) pose for photographers with King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his wife queen Sirikit after a dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Oct. However, on June 9, 1946, just days before the family’s scheduled return to Europe, Ananda was found dead in his bed in Boromphiman Throne Hall at Bangkok’s Grand Place. Bhumibol was proclaimed King Rama IX of Siam’s Chakri dynasty that same day, though he would not be crowned until 1950, after the official name change to Thailand, meaning, Land of the Free.

Yet in the decade approaching his death on Thursday at the age of 88, his kingdom, Thailand, has been increasingly wracked by bitter political schisms.

Bhumibol’s body will rest in Bangkok’s spired Grand Palace in a golden urn, draped in silk, gold and diamonds, for an official grieving period of one year, as Brahmin priests and Buddhist monks, wreathed in incense smoke, chant incantations.

Wrangling over the sensitive subject of succession, and thus control of the royal fortune, is what many observers attribute the nation’s latest military coup d’état of May 22, 2014. foreign policy, especially the Obama Administration’s “rebalancing” to Asia.

The instability wrought by the coup and martial law has had a dire effect: the Thai economy is flatlining and Bangkok has been shaken by terrorist attacks and elections have been repeatedly pushed back by the ruling junta. Without strong regional partners — Thailand is America’s oldest ally in Asia — maintaining support for regional strategic goals will be tough, throwing into doubt the broader geopolitical objective of being a counterweight to China.

.action_button.action_button:active.action_button:hover.action_button:focus.action_button:hover.action_button:focus .count.action_button:hover .count.action_button:focus .count:before.action_button:hover .count:before.u-margin-left--sm.u-flex.u-flex-auto.u-flex-none.bullet.

Error Banner.fade_out.modal_overlay.modal_overlay .modal_wrapper.modal_overlay [email protected](max-width:630px)@media(max-width:630px).modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:hover:before. First, arch royalist General Sarit Thanarat seized power in a September 1957 coup, to which Bhumibol gave his blessing.A notorious womanizer and lush, Sarit in return cemented the link between the military and the monarchy, placing Bhumibol at society’s zenith.Ananda and Bhumibol’s formative years were spent speaking French and attending Champ Soleil boarding school, and later the progressive École Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande.Bhumibol was a diligent student, according to Sangwal, who wrote that the young prince “understands the importance of studies.” This Western-style upbringing, joshing with friends and surrounded by a smattering of servants, who did not prostrate themselves, was utterly alien from their celestial heritage, and thus a source of consternation back in Bangkok.Notwithstanding his professed suspicions of subterfuge, Bhumibol failed to stop the executions of the three supposed King slayers, despite being the only figure capable of issuing a pardon.