November 23, 2014
December 5th Is the Kings Birthday and Thailand’s ‘Fathers Day’
With a history going back more than seven hundred years, the love and reverence the Thai people have for their King and the monarchy is often difficult for outsiders to fully comprehend. The present King His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Also known as Rama IX) began his reigned on the 9 June 1946 and is the world’s longest serving head of state
King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born in 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States, where his father, Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, was studying medicine. When his brother died, he became the 9th Chakri king. Married to Queen Sirikit, King Bhumibol the king is the father of four grown children. Like him, all members of the Royal Family perform duties in the interest and welfare of the Thai people.
The deep love and connection the Thai people feel for their King stems in large part from his distinctive form the modern monarchy, one that involves a remarkable degree of personal contact with his people and at the same time, it is rooted in the long history of the Kingdom.
Thai concepts of monarchy have their origins in the city of Sukhothai, which was founded in 1238, the city was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom and generally regarded as the first truly independent Thai kingdom. It was here that the monarchy switched from the Khmers belief of a ‘Divine Kingship’ to one where the monarchy, took heed of the needs of its people and embraced the fact, its first duty was to guide them. This can be clearly seen in the reign of the present King, who’s mission to improve the lives of all his people, had when he was in good health, repeatedly taken him to all four corners of the land, for up to eight months each year. His Majesty used to travel to remote areas to discuss face-to-face with his people their needs and, together with them, devise strategies to resolve their problems and difficulties, often utilizing his personal funds to finance the projects.
The king has achieved so much for his people that his devotion to them is recognised by many foreign institutions including the United Nations who in 2006 honoured His Majesty with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award.
The heart felt speech made by the then Secretary-General Kofi Annan epitomises the King and for what he stands for:
“At his coronation in 1946, His Majesty uttered the famous Oath of Accession: “We shall reign with righteousness, for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people.” Ever since, His Majesty has lived this Oath, selflessly devoting his time and efforts to the well-being and welfare of the people of Thailand, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or legal status.
As the world’s “Development King”, His Majesty reached out to the poorest and the most vulnerable people of Thailand, listened to their problems, and empowered them to take their lives into their own hands.
His Majesty’s rural development projects have benefited millions of people across Thailand. They have prompted small-scale agriculture; appropriate farming technologies; sustainable use of water resources; conservation; and flood and drought mitigation”.
If you are in Bangkok for the 2nd December why not witness all three branches of the armed forces take part in the ceremonial parade that was once the ‘Thai Royal Guards parade’, also known as ‘Trooping the Colour’ in honour of the King. The parade is awash with the uniforms of the Bugle Squads and the Colour Parties of the 13 military units participating in the massed military band. Here you can also get to see both the Thai pith helmets with heavy plumes resembling bearskins and the cavalry unit with their British-style helmets and Thai lances on horseback. The parade is the opportunity for the service men to renew their oath to the monarch and finishes with a 21 gun salute.
The venue is the Royal Plaza in Bangkok, in front of the Dusit Palace and its Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. If you like your pomp and ceremony you are in for a real treat, but do be aware the parade is well attended and you may find it difficult to get a good view point.
As a non-Thai living in the Kingdom, it is easy to see his subjects deep felt loyalty is founded not just on respect for the institution of the monarchy, but on him personally, his manner, his modesty, his reserve and his gentleness, qualities he has demonstrated through-out his 60 plus year on the throne. It is for these reasons and the fact he has worked tirelessly for his peoples that the King’s birthday is celebrated across the land on the 5th of December with much merit making and an out pouring of joy for The Peoples King.
In brief, the King embodies all that is best in Thai culture and its traditions, he is a symbol to both his people of the continuity from Thailand’s past, to its future.
‘Long Live the King’
More on the King