Ahead of his 80th birthday on Wednesday 5th December, Thailand’s King Bhumibol has presided over a military parade in his honour. The Thai king has suffered ill-health recently and it was with relief and delight that thousands of onlookers greeted the monarch at the Trooping of the Colour parade in Bangkok. The troops swore their annual oath of allegiance which was followed by a 21-gun salute and the releasing of 8,000 balloons into the sky. This week sees the culmination of festivities and events that have been held throughout the year to celebrate King Bhumibol’s 80th birthday.
Tomorrow, on the eve of his birthday, the king will address the nation in a television broadcast which will be viewed by virtually the entire country. On Wednesday, towns and cities throughout Thailand will host firework displays and concerts, but the main focus will be in Bangkok. Many Thai people will also mark the occasion by making merit or performing charitable acts such as donating blood.
On Wednesday morning at 10.30 a.m. the Thai king will meet a congregation of well wishers at the Throne Hall. Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangkok are expected to line the route as the royal motorcade passes from Chitralada Palace to the Grand Palace. If you are attending, wearing a yellow shirt (the colour associated with the king’s birth date of Monday) will gain you a lot of kudos amongst the Thai onlookers who will almost all be wearing yellow shirts.