5 December: In every city and village across the country, citizens gather to celebrate the birthday of HM the King Bhumibol Adulaydej. Born 5 December, 1927, HM the King is the longest reigning Thai monarch and the longest serving head of state in the world.
Millions of candles raised above a sea of yellow shirts will flicker across the evening sky, 5 December, as people from all walks of life sing the Royal Anthem in heartfelt gratitude, while proclaiming with pride and sincerity “Long Live the King.”
Having reigned for more than 60 years, the 80-year monarch is the soul of the nation, loved and respected by 63 million people who are inspired by decades of selfless service.
The meaning of HM the King’s name, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is translated as “strength of the land, incomparable power”, but often Thais will say he is the “moving force of the country.”
Demonstrating untarnished integrity of character, the King is seen as a shining beacon of wisdom; the father of the nation the protector of the weak. Often his observations alone have sufficed to turn the nation from the gates of crisis.
His reign has been marked by milestones when he pointed the way to future prosperity and responsibilities. In 1974, he initiated projects to protect the environment and encourage re-forestation, decades before it became fashionable to be green, while his personal intervention and technical knowledge saved the capital from annual flooding.
HM the King has initiated over 2000 projects to address social, medical and economy issues at village level throughout the nation.
A gifted musician and artist, the King graduated in law and political science, enabling him, after he ascended the throne in 1946, to work tirelessly to improve the life of his subjects through a vast spectrum of activities.
Earlier this year, nine specific royal projects were identified for their role in developing a sustainable economy in village communities and for their intrinsic appeal to international tourists. They are now promoted overseas through the national airline and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
In the book “In His Majesty’s Footsteps, former chief of the Royal Court Police, Vasit Dejkunjorn, writes of his early encounters with HM the King as a young police officer. From listening to the royal couple’s conversation I learned for the first time how concerned they were about the well-being of the Thai people.
Caring for his people is the hallmark of his reign. While history will record his reign as the longest, the hearts of Thai people have accorded him their trust, an unpareled respect and abiding love, never before seen in the Kingdom.
On the night of 5 December Bangkok’s Sanam Luang and Ratchdamnoen Avenue will be illuminated with lights, the streets closed to traffic as a mighty throng gathers to demonstrate their gratitude for their King. Visitors will join them sensing the honour of sharing this moment with the Thai people.