(63 Longwood Avenue: the first home of Prince Bhumibhol, the future King of Thailand. Photo courtesy of KTBF)
Quite incredibly most Thais who I have ever spoken to haven’t known where the present king of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born. For some weird reason it isn’t part of Thailand’s education system to teach kids that King Bhumibol has been the only monarch to ever have been born in the United States – his elder brother, King Ananda, was born in Germany. Later growing up in Switzerland, the two brothers only ever spoke French to each other – again not the kinda thing the education authorities teach. No idea why.
(Photo courtesy of KTBF)
The American birth of a Thai king, all began with the rags to royalty fairytale-like story-come-true of a Thai-Chinese orphan called Sangwan, who would be later known as Princess Srinakharin (the Princess Mother). Even though Miss Sangwan only had a basic education, she won a scholarship from Queen Savang Vadhana to study nursing at Boston’s Simmons College in the US. And it was there that she was to go on the meet her future husband Prince Mahidol of Siam.
Prince Mahidol, the 69th son of King Chulalongkorn, growing up sixth in line to the throne was sent abroad at a young age, first England and then Germany, before he decided upon studying public health/medicine at Harvard University in 1916. Thus, making him the first Thai royal to ever study in the United States. It is recorded that Miss Sangwan and Prince Mahidol first met at South Station, Boston in 1918 where Mahidol had been sent to welcome Sangwan and other students off a train from San Francisco. Soon after, they were to engaged to be married, and were so, finally, in 1920.
(Mount Auburn Hospital: the actual birthplace of King Bhumibol. Photo courtesy of KTBF))
On arrival in Boston, Miss Sangwan first stayed at 44 Langdon Street which housed the Siamese Office of Educational Affairs, and other government offices including the Siamese Alliance (Siam Samakom) led by Prince Mahidol himself. It was the job of the Educational Affairs office to look after all the Thai students in the US.
After being married and receiving the royal title, Mom, Mom Sangwan moved from place to place, and lived with a variety of different people, both Thai and American. The royal couple ended up, however, residing on the first floor apartment of 63 Longwood Avenue, Brookline, Massachusetts (1926-1928). And it was, while there, that Prince Bhumibol was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge on 5 December 1927.
The King of Thailand Birthplace Foundation (KTBF) “preserves a piece of Thai history” with its Trail of Thai Royalty in Massachusetts, 1916-1928. The trail follows in the footsteps of the Princess Mother and Prince Mahidol, capturing their lives, homes and places where they and their children stayed during those years. The trail has been based on the research carried out by author Cholthanee Koerojna.
See more pics, and get more info on their website at: The King of Thailand Birthplace Foundation