Friday, June 09, 2006

Thailand celebrates king's 60 years on the throne

Thailand is awash with celebration for King Bhumibol's 60 years on the throne. It's 60 years ago today that he became king and over the years he's become very very popular.

Having spent so much time in Thailand I have seen how greatly he is admired by all citizens. While politicians and businessmen are generally self-serving and out to gain the maximum personal benefit for themselves, the king time and again has worked tirelessly for the benefit of the ordinary people.

The stability enjoyed here can be traced back to His Majesty. I hope he enjoys many more years of life.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Thailand marks king's anniversary

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has called for national unity during colourful celebrations in the capital to mark his 60 years on the throne.

The king, who is the world's longest-serving monarch, addressed a cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands of people in Bangkok's Royal Plaza.

Speaking from the palace balcony, King Bhumibol, 78, said that unity would bring prosperity to Thailand.

Dignitaries from around the world are in Bangkok for the celebrations.

"Unity is a basis for all Thais to help preserve and bring prosperity to the country in the long run," the king told the crowd, which stretched some 3 km (2 miles).

"If Thais uphold these ethics, it will ensure that Thailand will stand firmly," he said.

'Historic event'

Hundreds of thousands of Thai's, most wearing yellow or carrying yellow flags to honour the monarch, had gathered to hear the king speak.

They received his address with shouts of "Long Live His Majesty!"

"Police estimate almost one million people were there at the peak of the royal audience," Bangkok police spokesman Colonel Pinit Maneerut told the AFP news agency.

"It's an unprecedented and historic event," he said.

Many people had arrived in the early hours to find a place from which to see the king, who is both highly revered and very popular.

Chom Taenglek, who arrived at dawn, wore a yellow shirt.

"This is a very auspicious opportunity," he told Reuters news agency.

"I would like to see all Thais sacrifice and do good for the country and our king, whom everyone should follow as a role model," he said.


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