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Thousands of people in Thailand have taken to the streets of Bangkok to celebrate the King’s 85th birthday.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the world’s longest reigning monarch, having ascended the throne on 9 June 1946.
Each year the day sees buildings and homes all over the country adorned with flags, portraits of His Majesty and bunting, predominantly in the royal colour of yellow.

Television images showed a sea of supporters of the revered king, many wearing yellow symbolising Monday, the day of his birth, and waving royal and Thai flags.

At least 200,000 people were expected to attend the speech from a balcony at the Anantasamakom Throne Hall in front of the Royal Plaza in the capital’s historic district.

Crowds lined the streets chanting “long live the king!” along the route of the royal motorcade as it made its way from the hospital where the king has lived for three years after suffering a respiratory illness in 2009.

Bhumibol, who has served for 66 years, suffered a minor brain bleed in July, but has since made several official appearances including meeting Barack Obama during the US president’s visit to the country last month.

Thailand’s Queen Sirikit was not among the members of the royal family accompanying the king on Wednesday.

Doctors treating the 80-year-old queen, who was diagnosed with a slight loss of blood flow to the brain after being taken ill in July, said she was too weak to attend the ceremony, according to a statement from the palace on Tuesday.

Any discussion of the royal family is extremely sensitive in politically-turbulent Thailand, where the palace has been silent over the organisation of the eventual succession.

Royal Plaza was the heart of anti-government demonstrations in November that saw clashes between police and protesters in the city.

The rally — attended by members of the influential monarchist “Yellow Shirts” — was the latest street unrest in Thailand’s long-running political crisis pitting Thai royalists against supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra and the current government led by his sister Yingluck.

King of Thailand Makes Rare Visit Outside the Bangkok Area

5 last year, has resided at Siriraj Hospital since Sept 2009, when he was admitted for lung inflammation.

Massive crowds could be seen at both Siriraj and along the route to Ayutthaya with citizens hoping for a glimpse of their revered monarch. Cheers of “Long Live the King” could be heard reverberating across the plain as soon as the door of the royal van opened, chanted by adoring crowds clad in the royal colours of pink and yellow and waving flags of the country and crown.

The King, wearing a green military uniform, arrived at Thung Makham Yong about 6pm, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

The monarch paid homage to the memorial of Queen Sri Suriyothai from the royal vehicle before moving on to an exhibition centre where he was greeted by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Ayutthaya governor Witthaya Piewpong and other senior officials.

Ms Yingluck said His Majesty’s visit has brought great joy to the people of Ayutthaya and neighbouring provinces.

“We are all deeply gratified to see His Majesty strong,” she said.

Thung Makham Yong has an important place in Thai history as it showcases the royally initiated kaem ling (monkey cheek) project to store water for use in the dry season and ease flood problems in the rainy season, the premier said.

Ms Yingluck also presented the title deed of a 7-rai, 3-ngan land plot at Thung Makham Yong field which she and her family donated to the King.

The plot is the paddy field where the King came to harvest rice 16 years ago on May 14, 1996.

“My family and I would like to donate this land to His Majesty for use at your discretion,” Ms Yingluck said.

Mr Witthaya then reported to His Majesty the King about the Thung Makham Yong development, and also presented a donation of 9,999,999 baht from state officials and Ayutthaya residents.

About 6.35pm, the King went to a pond pavilion to watch traditional performances, including boat songs.

At 7.20pm, the prime minister presided over a candle-lit ceremony to ask for blessings for His Majesty’s good health and happiness. The King left at 7.30pm.

Mr Witthaya said Ms Yingluck decided to buy the land plot from its previous owners just two days ago.

“I think Prime Minister Yingluck wants to keep the land as a historic site. Here is the place where our King developed an irrigation project and once harvested rice,” said the governor.

La-or Manorom, a 44-year-old worker from eastern Rayong, said she went to Prachuap Khiri Khan province to collect her family and then travelled with them all the way to Ayutthaya to pay respect to the King.

“Once in my life, I want to see the King. What I did today means nothing, compared with what the King has done for the country for more than 60 years. He is the best teacher for how to make life happy based on his sufficiency economy philosophy,” she said.

Songserm Isarakankul, the owner of a green-bean noodle plant in Kanchanaburi, said he had brought more than 20 kilogrammes of the noodles to Ayutthaya to present to the King.

Mr Songserm said his family has presented the noodles they make to the King for 40 years whenever they had a chance to do so. Mr Songserm said his own mother once had the chance to present the noodles to His Majesty when the King visited a temple in Kanchanaburi where he had asked about how it was produced.

Foreigners also joined Thai people in soaking up the joyous atmosphere.

Michelle Reedy, a 45-year-old Australian who now works as a mahout at Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal, said the elephant keepers put in their utmost efforts in training 11 elephants to take part in the special occasion to welcome the King and the royal family.

“I feel good to do this for His Majesty the King,” she said.

Nantiya Patthong, 48, from Bangkok said this was a great opportunity to see His Majesty the King.

“I’m very glad to see the large number of people turning up. It is a good sign that most people still love him. Nothing in the world is enough to thank him for what he has done for us except to show we still love and respect him,” she said.

“More than ever, His Majesty the king is concerned with flood-prevention measures,” the announcer said. “He is widely recognized as one of the hardest-working monarchs in the world.”

Thailand suffered widespread flooding last year, from which the economy is still recovering.

The king continued to look relatively frail during his appearance on Friday, but Palakorn Suwanarat, a member of the king’s privy council, said on Thursday that the king would be leaving the hospital soon. The king will stay in his palace, Mr. Palakorn said, because he is “back to good health.”

HM the King Bhumibol Adulyadej celebrated his 84th birthday today along with members of the royal family and a public audience in the Chakri hall at the Grand Palace today.

During his address to the nation, HM the King said that a sustainable water management system must be developed and that all sides must work together to assist those who have been affected by floods.

He also said that the military and government should aim to work towards national stability, which will come when people in the country are living well and harmoniously.

HM the King pointed out that it was the duty of all sides to work together to their full potential to alleviate factors that create hardship to people.

The King pointed out that people were suffering as a result of the floods and cooperation was needed to sort the problem by setting up a sustainable water management system.

“The [water] projects that I’ve had discussed are only suggestions, not orders. But if the projects are beneficial and cost-effective, then implement them if possible,” the King said.

He added that it was vital that conflict be excluded from the process, replaced by moral support. This would allow for the nation to achieve happiness and add to the stability of the nation.

HM the King also hoped that the continue on a prosperous path, while observing formalities that consisted of renewal of the oath of allegiance by members of the Royal Guard, along with addresses by other dignitaries, including the Prime Minister.

Following the event, the world’s longest serving monarch proceeded to return to Siriraj Hospital, where crowds lined the streets chanted “Long Live the King” as the royal motorcade passed.

HM the King has been rarely seen in public following his admission to hospital in September 2009.

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