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Celebrations for the King, but will he attend?


King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning and most beloved monarch, is treated with an almost religious devotion in Thailand, where his picture hangs in every house, shop and major street in the country. Born and educated in America his reign as Thailand’s king started in 1946 and he celebrated his 60th year on the throne in 2006.

The king will turn 80 on December 5th of this year. The month leading up to his birthday will be filled with celebrations for the king, but will the king be well enough to enjoy them?


The royal barges set sail yesterday on the Chao Phraya river, 52 in all and led by the king’s barge named the Golden Swan, but the king was absent on this day. It is customary for the king to lead the procession marking the end of Buddhist lent and the beginning of the month long celebrations leading up to His Majesties birthday. Last month the king fell ill with what was called a lack of blood to his brain and weakness on his right side and he’s been hospitalized since but is said to be recovering well. This ailment, which sounds suspiciously like a stroke, has been downplayed to the press.

Although a constitutional Monarch the king has no real political power, but as the head of state he does have the right to veto bills and political appointments. The kings true power has been that of unifying the Thai people who love him so deeply. Indeed he’s been the stabilizing force in Thailand through some very rough times including 18 coup’s.

All things must come to pass in this life and inevitably the kings reign will end one day, a point his recent illness has brought home for many. This will spell uncertain times for Thailand and those who love this country and although a new king will be chosen he will have very large shoes to fill.

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