More room to honour King

His Majesty the King has ordered royal guards from 12 battalions to line up in formation on the grounds of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall instead of the Royal Plaza to allow more room for the masses of well-wishers and a closer view when he appears before a grand audience on Dec 5, his birthday, the Royal Household Bureau said on Sunday.

During the King’s planned appearance, the armed forces initially plan to hold an oath of allegiance ceremony before him at the Royal Plaza to mark the auspicious occasion of the monarch’s 85th birthday this year.

However, his majesty has instructed 2,126 royal guards made up of the three armed forces to hold the ceremony inside the throne hall compound instead in order to shorten the distance between him and his subjects, Maj Gen Wara Boonyasit, commander of the 1st Division, King's Guard, said. 

"His Majesty wants more space to be given to hundreds of thousands of well-wishers expected to turn up there and wants them to be at the closest distance to him.

"For the royal guards who will line up in the front yard [of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall] during the ceremony,  they will have a better opportunity to stay close to His Majesty,” Maj Gen Wara said. 

Only a battalion from the 1st Cavalry Squadron, King's Guard, will line up outside the hall, he added. 

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Photo by Patipat Janthong

At 10am, the King will depart from Siriraj Hospital and appear at the Siha Banchorn Balcony to address his subjects at 10.30am. The event organised  in honour of the King will be broadcast live on national television and last about one hour and a half. 

Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers are expected to turn out to greet the King along the way, on roads that have been decorated with national and royal flags.

The second and last full dress rehearsal was held this morning. At 7am, the royal guards in full uniform lined up inside the throne hall to rehearse their oath of allegiance ceremony as suggested by His Majesty.

Supreme Commander Thanasak Patimakorn will represent military officers in addressing the oath.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and leaders of the armed forces later arrived at the venue at 9.30am to attend the event. Ms Yingluck will lead government officials and members of the public in presenting a speech to wish His Majesty happy birthday and good health.     

Many people travelled to the Royal Plaza to witness the Sunday rehearsal and took photos. They pledged to turn up to express their loyalty to the King on Wednesday, reports said. The entire occasion will last about 90 minutes.

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Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard

This is the first time after June 9, 2006, marking the King's 60th year on the throne, that the monarch is to make an appearance before a grand audience at the balcony of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall.

His Majesty made an appearance on the main Mukkhadej balcony at the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace on his 84th birthday last year.

Officials believe the public will witness the event, in numbers likely to rival those of 2006 grand audience. The Royal Household Bureau has called on citizens and friends to wear yellow to mark the monarch's birthday and the grand audience. Roads around the Royal Plaza will be closed from 6pm on Tuesday.

The five roads surrounding the Royal Plaza will be off-limits to traffic from Tuesday at 6pm until the end of the celebrations the next day.

Closed to traffic will be Uthong Nai Road to the Royal Plaza; Ratchadamnoen Avenue from Makkhawan Rangsan intersection to Misakawan intersection; Si Ayutthaya Road from Wat Benchamabophit to Phol 1 Ro Or intersection; Phitsanulok Road from Phanich intersection to Wang Daeng intersection; and Krung Kasem Road from Makkhawan Rangsan intersection to Pracha Kasem Road. People travelling to the area to take part in the celebrations at the Royal Plaza are urged to use public transport.  

Prime Minister's Office permanent secretary Thongtong Chantarangsu said authorities would install big LCD screens on the two sides of the streets from the Royal Plaza to Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue onto Sanam Luang. Tents would also be set up to offer water, light meals and first aid medical services to the public along the route, he said. 

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