Thousands gather to commemorate late king
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Thousands gather to commemorate late king

Sea of yellow in Sanam Luang as Their Majesties preside

A woman raises a banner that reads
A woman raises a banner that reads "King's people" ahead of a ceremony to mark the birthday of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Father's Day at Sanam Luang on Saturday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiartpakun)

Thousands of yellow-clad people gathered at Sanam Luang in Bangkok on Saturday to greet Their Majesties the King and the Queen and light candles to mark the birthday of late HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great and the national Father’s Day.

The government, which organised the ceremony, earlier invited people to greet Their Majesties, pay tribute to the late king and show their loyalty to the royal family at 7.19pm. 

It marked the first time Their Majesties presided over the annual ceremony and joined Thais in lighting candles for the occasion. 

Their Majesties also gave people brooches as souvenirs for the important event. 

People who joined the ceremony were advised to wear outfits made of Thai-made fabric, or local or national attire. 

Among those in attendance were actors including Duantem Salitul and Methanee “Nino” Buranasiri. Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban was also spotted, and activist Suvit Thongprasert (the former monk once known as Buddha Issara) was seen handing out drinking water and snacks to attendees. 

Yellow continues to be the royal colour since, like his father, His Majesty was also born on a Monday. 

Saturday’s ceremony was one of the biggest shows of support for the monarchy since protests, some of them calling for reform of the institution, began gathering pace in July.

“The king has always been there to take care of people’s happiness, and without the king there would be chaos,” Wanchote Kunprasert, 65 told Reuters.

Another man who was holding a portrait of King Bhumibol said respect for the monarchy is deeply ingrained in Thai culture and dismissed the protests that call for its reform.

“The monarchy has been with us for centuries, how can you change that by just a few months of protests,” said Sirinan Jungwatmunee, 63.

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