Thais hail a remarkable reign - World - smh.com.au
THAILAND'S celebration of its beloved king moved to the river last night in a spectacular procession of 52 ceremonial barges propelled by more than 2000 oarsmen, enacting a 300-year-old tradition.
The procession along the Chao Phraya River was the centrepiece of the five-day festival to celebrate the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's accession to the throne in 1946.
The 78-year-old is the world's longest-serving monarch and royals from around the world have flooded into Bangkok over the weekend to fete his reign and perhaps marvel at his continuing relevance within Thai society.
Prince Andrew, representing Queen Elizabeth, the second longest-serving monarch, was first to arrive. Princess Mary's father-in-law, Prince Henrik, arrived to represent the Danish royals. The guest list stretches around the globe, from the King of Lesotho in southern Africa to Japan's Emperor Akihito.
In a world that increasingly marginalises the role of the monarchy, in Thailand the king is a unifying, respected figure.
In a speech broadcast live to the nation, he said: "Unity is a basis for all Thais to help preserve and bring prosperity to the country in the long run."