Born to Prince Mahidol and a commoner named Sangwala in 1926, Ananda was raised in Switzerland. His mother had fled court intrigues against her because of her commoner background.
When the king was overthrown in 1938, Ananda VII was proclaimed king of Siam (later Thailand) and returned to assume the throne with a board of regents ruling for him. He mostly presided at parades, state affairs and religious rites, all of which served to confuse his young mind.
His mother persuaded the regents to allow the young king to continue his education in Switzerland and, upon returning to Lausanne, the boy told newsmen, “I don’t think it’s much fun to be king. I would rather stay here and play with my electric trains.”
During World War II, Ananda remained in Switzerland while Siam was occupied by Japanese troops, its tiny army resisting only one day before surrendering. The country was ruled by a Japanese puppet, Marshal Phibul Songgram, later tried as a war criminal.
Advisers were alarmed
Following the war, in 1945, Ananda was invited to return to Siam and assume the throne, which he did at age 19. The king was decidedly democratic and alarmed advisers when he declared his intention to turn Siam into a republic within a few years and abdicate the throne.
Later reports indicate that die-hard monarchists or members of the Communist Party poisoned the king on June 7, 1946. He was ill for two days but recovered.
On the morning of June 9, 1946, he weakly sat up in bed to take some medicine. At 9 a.m., a shot rang out in the royal bedchamber and when guards rushed inside they found the 20-year-old king. He was lying on the floor, a bullet hole in his head. His mother rushed in and held him in her arms until court physicians arrived to pronounce Ananda dead.
Gun accidentally fired
At first officials insisted that Ananda had died while inspecting a gun that accidentally fired and killed him. The statement was absurd and obviously designed to cover up what had been a clear-cut case of assassination.
Ananda could hardly sit up in his bed on the day of his death, let alone get out of bed and admire his gun collection. He was an expert with weapons and would never have handled a gun carelessly.
More than a dozen physicians inspected the wound and announced, indeed, that the king had been murdered. Investigations went on for a year with no results.
One-time war criminal Songgram led a bloodless coup on November 8, 1947, and took control of the government, stating that Nai Pridi, the so-called Siamese patriot who had thrown him out of office and invited Ananda to assume the throne in 1945, was the real culprit.
A secret Communist
Pridi, who had fled the country upon Songgram’s return, was secretly a Communist who had installed Ananda on the throne to subsequently dispose of him and more easily take over the country, according to Songgram.
The new leader of Siam vowed to track down Ananda’s killers and began a liberal program to democratize the country, changing its name from Siam to Thailand and using Ananda’s murder to purge the country of his political enemies.
Scores of “suspects” were arrested and wound up rotting in prison cells or were shot to death “while attempting to escape.” The purge went on for nine years, culminating in 1955 with the arrest of the two royal pages that had been outside Ananda’s chamber on the morning of the killing.
These two men, officials stated, were responsible for the assassination of the king. They were summarily tied to crosses and machine gunned to death. Justice had been done, announced the regime.
Songgram’s opponents, however, insisted that he had ordered Ananda’s death so that he could then step in and pretend to be the savior of the nation, while solidifying his own position by eradicating all important resistance.
The real killers of King Ananda of Siam, however, were never officially identified.