Denis Gray described his encounter with Bhumibol on a trip up north with him:
The king clearly savored such encounters, bantering with rural dwellers and trying to solve their problems, even marital ones. He once told me the story of a hilltribesman whose wife ran away after he had purchased her with two pigs. The king decided the husband deserved compensation which would allow her freedom. “The only trouble was I gave the money,” he joked. “So the woman belonged to me.”
Paul Handley offered a more sober account of Bhumibol’s reign:
Yet like Tito, Bhumibol failed at securing a stable future for his kingdom. He had made his throne dependent on its alliance with the military, an institution that remains thoroughly corrupt and convinced of its right to arbitrate power. Amid this, the other key institutions of a modern parliamentary democracy have shriveled.
While Christine Gray was more optimistic:
The end of Bhumibol’s reign is an incredible historical moment, one of genuine grief for the late king, if not for opportunities missed during his reign. But also an opportunity for change.