Royalty and heads of state from around the world have gathered in Bangkok to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The world’s longest-reigning monarch has welcomed guests from 25 nations for the festivities which began on Friday and will culminate in a procession of river barges.
The jubilee celebrations have given the country a break from months of political crisis sparked by street protests to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Analysts say most Thais regard the king as a uniting figure who has lifted the country out of bloodshed and crisis on several occasions. On the streets Bangkok has become a sea of yellow — the colour of the king’s birth day.
King Bhumibol, ascended to the throne in 1946 at the age of 18 at a time when the world was shaking off the ravages of World War II. The 78-year-old, whose name means “Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power”, is the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty.