His Majesty called on Thais to extend kindness and goodwill to each other as hundreds of thousands of people packed the Royal Plaza to celebrate the King's 85th birthday yesterday.
His Majesty the King gives his birthday speech from the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall balcony. PATIPAT JANTHONG.
His Majesty left Siriraj Hospital at 9.54am amid a yellow-clad crowd chanting "Long live the King" and waving the Thai and King's flag as the monarch entered his vehicle.
Both sides of the road leading to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall were packed with people who had turned out to catch a brief glimpse of the King.
His Majesty arrived at the throne hall around 10.30am and later came out on the balcony overlooking the Royal Plaza where about 200,000 people were waiting for him to appear.
Many had slept overnight at the compound to try to get the best spot to see the King during the ceremony.
The last time His Majesty made an appearance before a grand audience was on June 9, 2006 to mark the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn led the Royal Family in wishing His Majesty a happy birthday.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told the King that Thais are aware that their wellbeing, happiness, and all advancements made in the country are the result of His Majesty's many years of hard work.
"We gather here to show our gratitude and extend our best wishes to His Majesty," the premier said.
Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont, who represented members of parliament, said the King is the guiding light for Thais and he has given much advice to solve the country's problems.
He promised to do his best to honour the King, protect the throne, meet His Majesty's wishes and promote democracy in the country.
Supreme Court President Pairoj Wayupab, representing judicial officials, thanked the King for giving advice to judges and legal officers to adhere to justice, morals and the national interest.
Supreme Commander Gen Thanasak Patimaprakorn then led more than 2,000 armed forces personnel in taking an oath of allegiance before His Majesty.
The King thanked the people for their good wishes.
"I'm impressed by your wishes, oaths, and promises. I thank all of you for being here together with goodwill. Your presence here brings me pleasure and moral support," His Majesty said.
"I always believe that the kindness and goodwill that you have toward each other will create unity in the country," he said.
"If Thai people are virtuous, there is hope that no matter what situation the country finds itself in, it will be safe and retain its stability."
His Majesty ended his brief birthday speech _ which could be heard around the Royal Plaza and was broadcast live through the TV pool _ by blessing the Thai people and wishing the country eternal happiness.
After the speech, members of the Royal Family joined His Majesty at the balcony to greet the people. Her Majesty the Queen, however, did not attend the ceremony as royal physicians have suggested she refrain from appearing at public functions for the time being to avoid straining her health.
The King left the throne hall and arrived at Siriraj Hospital at noon.
Metropolitan police yesterday estimated that at least 200,000 people turned up at the Royal Plaza, Ratchadamnoen Avenue and surrounding areas to celebrate His Majesty's birthday. Well-wishers, most wearing yellow, began gathering at the Royal Plaza and Siriraj Hospital on Tuesday evening. Yellow symbolises Monday, the day of the King's birth.
All the space around the King Rama V Equestrian Monument at the Royal Plaza was fully occupied by well-wishers.
By late morning, the crowd packed the whole of Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue.
Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Somsak urged all politicians to adhere to His Majesty's speech which encouraged Thais to practise kindness.
"Members of the parliament must follow His Majesty's advice, especially in parliamentary sessions where MPs have always fought with each other. If MPs are virtuous, parliamentary sessions will run smoothly," he said.
Officials and people in other provinces also held various activities to celebrate His Majesty's birthday yesterday.
Ms Yingluck presided over a candle-lighting ceremony at Sanam Luang at 7.19pm to pray for His Majesty's longevity and happiness.
The ceremony was also held at provincial halls nationwide.
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- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin