Hua Hin, Thailand — The King of Thailand addressed the nation today in a public birthday message, avoiding direct reference to the ongoing political turmoil that has gripped Bangkok in recent weeks, the country’s worst unrest since 2010.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turned 86 today, urged all Thais to perform their duties by taking into account the benefits and unity of the nation.
He said Thailand had long been peaceful because its people were united and supported each other, urging his subjects to do their duties for the common interest and for the happiness of the whole country.
The King’s message was delivered at the Rajapracha Samakhom Pavillion of Klai Kanwon Palace in Hua Hin.
He made the public appearance at 10:34 am, and the entire event was broadcast live on television nationwide.
Thousands lined the road to the palace, many wearing yellow shirts and waving yellow flags – the royal color.
As the King passed by, people shouted “Long Live the King” repeatedly.
The military fired a 21 gun salute in honor of the King.
King Bhumibol thanked Royal Family members, government officials, military officials, parliamentarians, and Thais for gathering to wish him well on his birthday.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn represented Royal Family members in wishing the King happy birthday and good health.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra represented the government and Thai people, and Parliament President Somsak Kiarsuranont represented parliamentarians and Thais in delivering happy birthday wishes.
Military officers then took an oath of loyalty to the King, led by Supreme Commander General Thanasak Pratimapakorn, according to reports.
Anti-government protesters have been trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck’s government for weeks, with at least four killed and over 200 injured.
But the demonstrations came to an abrupt halt Tuesday as authorities removed barricades and allowed protesters into key government offices for brief but symbolic occupations.
The two sides have since paused to celebrate the King’s birthday.
The protesters have declared the demonstrations will continue after the King’s birthday celebrations.