Real moral power: HRH, the King of Thailand passes from this life


News channels in the US will be occupied with pathetic stories of moral corruption today, and there can be no greater leadership contrast today than looking at the nation of Thailand, where their beloved king who has ruled for 70 years, has passed from this life.  Most of my friends know that I spent my childhood living in Thailand. While it has become an ever more popular tourist destination since we were there in the 1970s, few westerners ever took the time to understand that the King of Thailand was an incredible life-long example of real moral power.




Above, my father speaking with HRH, the King of Thailand, in 1974. Being born in Massachusetts and educated in Switzerland, The king understood both western and eastern worlds. 


During the cold war, our nation ‘befriended’ a number of terrible despots like Chang Kai-shek, Ferdinand Marcos and the Shaw of Iran. In complete contrast, Thailand shared our vision of a world without communist totalitarians, while being lead by a man whom we could be very proud to consider as an ally. If half our allies in the cold war had been people of his morality, the world would have been a much better place today.


In the western world, we think of “Kings” in the European tradition, where they pronounce their powers as God’s will, declare themselves infallible, write their own law, have their enemies put in dungeons, behead their ex-wives and declare war on their colonies, all while sitting on vast wealth and great estates, tended by subjects that are beneath them. They declare themselves to have “absolute power” but in reality, they are weak because they lack one critical element: Moral Power. 


The King of Thailand was the worlds longest serving ruler, having been king for 70 years. Contrary to western monarchy, he was not the head of the faith, nor was he leader of the armed forces; he didn’t derive power from legislation nor from wealth; he took no direct role in politics, and he directly spoke against the concept of infallibility, calling it an insult.   Yet for seven decades he remained the most respected and powerful man in a country of 65 million people. His entire life was a single example of ethical and moral behavior, one that was revered by the people of his nation, and in times of crisis, his leadership by example of ethical behavior, was a compass needle his nation chose to follow.


Today, in our country, we have two people fighting to be in a position of leadership. I can say without the slightest hesitation, that even though one of them will be ‘elected’, there was never any chance that either one of them would be our nations ‘Leader’, because each of them, a long time ago, did things which permanently crippled any moral power they might ever have. Moral and ethical understanding of life is the critical element without which, no good can come. I would offer my condolences to the people of Thailand, but at this hour, it seems we might be the country who is suffering





From the 2013 story: Happy Father’s Day William E. Wynne Sr. :


“Thailand is a constitutional monarchy like England, but the Thais hold the deepest reverent respect for their royal family. The King is the longest serving ruler in the world, and is widely understood as a very positive force in a part of the world that knew very little peace or freedom. He was educated in the United States and knew that his country was on the front lines of the Cold War.


The location of the photo was a construction site on Doi Inthanon, the tallest mountain in SE Asia. From 1971-74, my father was the OICC (Officer in Charge of Construction) in Thailand. This included numerous military and civilian infrastructure projects in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, and places as distant as Diego Garcia. My father worked equally hard on building hospitals and roads as he did building airbases. While all of Thailand’s neighbors, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, fell into savage rule by communist totalitarian regimes that ran from repressive police states to genocide, the Thai people were spared this trip to hell. My father remains very proud of the role he played in preventing their enslavement.


As a show of respect for our Thai hosts, we lived in a typical Thai home, went to regular schools, learned the language, ate the food and always were deeply respectful of the people, customs and beliefs of our host nation. My father drilled into us that any shortcoming on our part would be tantamount to sabotaging the work that he and many other Americans were doing to ensure excellent relations between the two countries.  Today, 42 years later, I have no patience for any American who goes abroad and forgets what the word “guest” means.  At the conclusion of our time there, the Thai Secretary of Defense presented the Order of the White Elephant to my father. It is the medal on the ribbon around his neck in his official photo above.”


About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

3 Responses to Real moral power: HRH, the King of Thailand passes from this life

  1. Dan Branstrom says:

    I, too, mourn the passing of the King of Thailand. I’m hoping that his successor will turn out to be the same type of person, in spite of his reputation. He has said that he doesn’t want to assume the throne immediately.

    Your parents raised you right to recognize that when one is in a foreign country, one is a guest. I have always enjoyed meeting people on their terms, instead of living or traveling in something prefabricated to ensure that I, as a traveler, could have all the comforts and pleasures of home. I don’t travel to stay at home, but to learn from other people what their lives are like.

  2. Andy Elliott says:

    Thank you for reminding me of this, and that I should send condolences to my Thai friends.

    • Andy,
      I tried to explain this story to a number of American friends yesterday, but was at a loss to find many examples from our public life in this country which might illustrate the concept of moral power. There are a awful lot of younger people who have never seen the film Gandhi, MLK, is just a guy associated with a holiday, and their understanding of the Dali Lama isn’t from reading anything he wrote, it is all from bumper stickers at Phish concerts. In this country we worship wealth and celebrity, and they we try to pretend that those people have morals as an often imaginary add on. -ww.

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