I don’t know what it means either, but it’s some guy’s name!
And, today’s his ascension day!
The Western World knows him as King Rama IV and King Mongkut.
You know, the guy from Anna and The King of Siam.
Guess what, he looked nothing like Yul Brynner.
Though there is much truth to the story, Hollywood once again, didn’t get it all right.
His Majesty DID want a governess for his 39 wives and concubines, and his 82 children. He DID hire Anna Leonowens to do the job, and she DID have some influence over him.
But, the King was pretty savvy himself. He introduced Western Geography to Siam, including the bold new idea of a round earth.
He also introduced social changes such as, freeing many of his concubines and allowing them to find their own husbands, banning forced marriages, and stopping the practice of selling one’s wife to pay debts.
What a progressive dude!
He allowed for modernization as well. The printing press, you know, the one introduced in the mid 1400s by Gutenberg, was allowed into Siam in 1851.
In the novel, play, and film versions of Anna’s interaction with the king, we are lead to believe her influence was greater than it may have been.
Sure, she held a position of some power and much prestige, but the king himself referred to her as a “difficult woman.”
So, not touching that one!
When Anna went home, the king wrote her a letter, spoke fondly of her, but he didn’t invite her back!
So, the next time you watch The King and I, take it for what it is, entertainment!
Oh, yeah, Anna Leonowens didn’t look like Gertrude Lawrence, Deborah Kerr, or Jodie Foster, she looked like this…