The king who smiled on Thailand
Bhumibol was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and lived most of his young life in the West. He was studying science at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland when he became king.
He continued to study there, switching from science to law and political science. A younger uncle served as regent in his absence.
While in Lausanne he nurtured a friendship with a distant cousin whom he married in April 1950.
He only donned the crown in a special and ancient ceremony four years later, on May 5,1950.
He was given the ceremonial name: Phrabat Somdej Phra Paramindra Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitaladhibet Ramadhibodi Chakrinarubodindara Sayamindaradhiraj Boromanatbophit.
Above: The king with his people
Photograph: AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Earlier slide show: Your ticket to Mumbai's past