Dozens in Cambridge Mourn the Death of Thai King Bhumibol

Dozens gathered over the weekend in Cambridge to mourn the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.

King Bhumibol, whose reign lasted for 70 years until he died this past Thursday, was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge while his father studied public health at Harvard.

Local memorials took place at the King Bhumibol Adulyadej Square, which commemorates the king’s connection with the University and sits between the Kennedy School and the Charles Hotel.

Dozens of mourners came to the square from Thursday through Saturday to pay their respects, bearing bouquets and handwritten notes. A circle of candles and flowers around a small monument in the square has expanded each day.

A larger memorial service took place at the square on Sunday afternoon. The event was organized by Wat Nawamintararachutis, a Thai Buddhist temple located south of Boston.

Monks from the temple, dressed in orange robes, were present at the ceremony, as were dozens of attendees. Multiple speakers addressed the audience and led prayers. At the end of the service, people joined hands for a singing of the royal anthem of Thailand.

University affiliates from Thailand also mourned King Bhumibol’s death this weekend. Many said the king, who some viewed as a fatherly figure, left behind a legacy of uniting the Thai people.

Anupong “Mee” Tangpeerachaikul, a graduate student in chemistry, said King Bhumibol strived to understand the lives and needs of the Thai populace.

“Wherever he goes, he sees the problems and brings solutions,” Tangpeerachaikul said.

Jasmine Chia ’18, co-president of the Harvard Thai Society, said that King Bhumibol’s birth and experiences in the United States may have been partially responsible for his ability to understand his people.

“He grew up as a commoner. He wasn’t treated like a royal figure in Cambridge,” Chia said. “He did not grow up expecting to be king. It made him someone who was really relatable.”

A sign held up at the memorial captured many of these sentiments.

“I may not have come from the greatest country,” it read, “but I am very proud to say I have lived in the country with the greatest King.”

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