The 5th. of December caught me by surprise… Here I was on the ready to go to work on a Tuesday morning..I had decided to have my favourite blue jeans on,pair them up with my new brown leather shoes and blue stripped shirt. I decided to send a whatsapp message as usual to my pal, to confirm whether I can bank on her for a ride to the office..but alas,she informs me its a public holiday…. “We are celebrating Father’s Day – the King’s Birthday!” she says..
Oh my word…I had noticed that a number of buildings were covered in royal symbols and His Majesty’s portraits a few days earlier but I had not connected this to being Thailand’s version of Father’s Day.
His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, officially referred to as the Rama IX,was born in 1927 and has reigned since 9th. June,1946 making him the longest-serving monarch. According to a recent review by the Independent online edition of the U.K, ..‘Despite 28 changes of Prime Minister, 15 coups and 16 constitutions, he has
remained there for the 66 years since.’
The monarchy in Thailand has a rich history dating to 7 dynasties..this is fascinating stuff for any historian. The current King’s reference as Rama IX denotes him to the Chakri dynasty that dates back to 1782,to the first Rama I. This as I mention makes interesting reading fodder..I am beginning to appreciate the historical sites and monasteries that connect the Thai people to their very rich heritage.
King Bhumibol is highly revered and loved by his people. I have read numerous articles crediting him for starting or helping to start many foundations and projects to improve the life of his people notably the rural folk. portraits of the King are a common item in different places such as schools,hospitals,coffee shops,monasteries and even offices,probably showcasing what a major influence he has been in different spheres of Thai culture.
What has fascinated me the most however has been the almost unanimous reverence of the King as a tower of strength,inspiration to a majority of Thai people in all walks of life. In the 21st. Century,such esteem is hard to come by..politicians will often be mocked and criticized in public. The Monarchy in England or is it Great Britain, I believe has undergone mockery and scrutiny in the recent past. That is something I tend to believe would be difficult to witness with the Thai Royal family.
So this year 2012, saw a rare address by the King to thousands,yellow polo shirt/top clad masses (yellow indicated devotion to the monarch) gathered outside the Bangkok Royal Plaza. He has been in failing health and has spent more time in hospital over the past 3 years. A recent visit by President Obama to the region,saw him meet up the King at the Siriraj Hospital.
I find it hard to think of a nation that rivals Thailand in having a people (70 million plus,generation to generation) rallying solidly behind their leader in heart and soul for over 6 decades. If there is one,please let me know.
Meanwhile,here is to wishing the King Bhumibol good health and many more years to inspire this great nation. Happy 85th. Birthday >>>> Long Live the King!!