In 1960 and 1961, Thailand’s new king lived with his parents and sisters in Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva at Puidoux-Chexbres. He is now being crowned the tenth king of the Chakri dynasty.
A photograph from summer 1960 shows the family by the Ouchy Castle on the lakeside in Lausanne. Walking in front is Queen Sirikit, holding an eight-year-old boy by the hand. He is wearing a tie and the cap of a school in Lausanne, looking straight ahead as if intimidated by the photographer.
On May 4, it is not a school cap but a spectacular pointed crown that he will wear on his head as Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarang, now 66, becomes Rama X, tenth king of the Chakri dynasty founded in 1782.
From May 2 to 6, Bangkok is expecting some 150,000 Thai visitors especially for the event. The palace will provide food and drinking water during a ceremony that Thailand has not seen for 69 years.
Royal ties with Switzerland
On May 5, 1950, it was his father King Bhumibol or Rama IX who was crowned sovereign of the ancient kingdom of Siam at the age of 23, following the mysterious death of his older brother Ananda in the Bangkok palace in 1946. It is still not known if that was an assassination or a suicide. The two brothers had both gone to school together in Switzerland at the Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande and later to the University of Lausanne.
Immediately after his coronation, King Bhumibol returned to Switzerland where Queen Sirikit – who is still alive – gave birth to Princess Ubol Ratana in Lausanne on April 5, 1951.
The royal family stayed in Pully at Villa Vadhana, which has since been demolished. The royal couple left in November 1951, but in July 1960, the parents of new king Rama X returned to Switzerland with their four children. They rented a property in the Lavaux vineyards overlooking Lake Geneva at Puidoux-Chexbres, the Villa Flonzaley.
After spending Christmas in the Swiss Alps, the royal family flew back to Thailand in January 1961, carrying with them “fond memories” of their stay on the shores of Lake Geneva.