King Bhumibol Adulyadej

As a single shot shattered the stillness of Bangkok's Borompimarn Palace on a steamy June morning in 1946, the land some still called Siam changed forever. Twenty-year-old King Ananda was dead. The manner of his passing — by accident, suicide or murder — endures as Thailand's deepest mystery. The pistol smoke barely had time to clear before the mantle of kingship passed to Ananda's 18-year-old brother, Bhumibol Adulyadej. Some, including a new magazine in Asia named TIME, pondered whether the "gangling, spectacled" teenager could survive the deadly intrigues of a fabled and faraway Oriental land.

The odds were...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!