Pattaya Daily News

14 June 2006 :: 16:06:52 pm 33171

Thai king hosts world royalty for 60th anniversary banquet

BANGKOK (AFP) - Royals from across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa have joined Thailand‘s king at a state banquet to celebrate his 60th year on the throne as the world‘s longest-reigning monarch.
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   King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit welcomed royals from 24 nations in the Grand Palace, a glittering compound of golden temples in central Bangkok, for the event capping lavish festivities that started Friday.

   The 78-year-old monarch — who made his reputation by helping poor farmers rather than hosting extravagant parties — served his guests seafood and vegetables produced by agricultural projects he sponsors to help ease rural poverty.
On the guest list Tuesday were Japan‘s Emperor Akihito, Britain‘s Prince Andrew, Spain‘s Queen Sofia, Jordan‘s King Abdullah II, Brunei‘s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and Monaco‘s Prince Albert II.

   Royals also came from Bahrain, Belgium, Bhutan, Cambodia, Denmark, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Swaziland, Sweden and Tonga.

   The guests arrived in black Mercedes-Benz limousines, dressed in their ceremonial finery, with the Thai king wearing a white dress uniform with a yellow sash and medals, and the queen wore a glittering diamond tiara.

   Nearly a week of festivities for the king have highlighted the enduring popularity of the monarch also known as Rama the Ninth in a country that has undergone tremendous political and social change during his reign.

   One million people flocked to Bangkok‘s marble palace on Friday to hear him give only the third public audience of his rule, many clearly moved by his message of national unity.
Millions more have worn yellow shirts and wristbands for a week to honor the king with the colour associated with Mondays, the weekday he was born in 1927.
At that time, Thailand was still the Kingdom of Siam and monarchs ruled with absolute power.

   After King Bhumibol took the throne he redefined the role of the king in a nation which had become a constitutional monarchy but which faltered — sometimes violently — as it evolved into a democracy.

   He has stepped into politics only in times of crisis.

   In 1992 he famously told two political opponents kneeling before him to end days of bloodshed. In April this year, he again stepped in to calm tensions after mass street protests against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

  He also revived many fading Thai traditions, including the restoration of a fleet of intricately carved barges inlaid with thousands of bits of mirror and glass that were once used to ensure good rains.

  The fleet of 52 boats made a rare procession Monday down the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, before the assembled royalty and tens of thousands of onlookers.

  Millions of his adoring subjects have watched the pageantry unfold on television, with every major channel providing blanket coverage of the festivities.

 12 June 2006 
  The dinner late Tuesday will wrap up two days of celebrations with the visiting royals.

  On the menu is a remoulade of horse crab and crayfish, roast veal, steamed rainbow trout and apple Charlotte with lavender ice cream.

  The chef from the city‘s famed Oriental Hotel is preparing the meal for the royal guests, as well as a buffet for 1,000 members of their entourages and staff.

  The dinner is the first event held in a new throne hall in the grounds of the Grand Palace.

   The normally practical king, who has turned one of his palaces into an agricultural laboratory, reportedly opposed the new building and had ordered a halt to construction during the 1997 financial crisis.

   But the government wanted a space large enough for state dinners, and financed the throne hall through fees paid by tourists visiting the temples.

13 June 2006 
The King hosted a lavish banquet Tuesday for royalty from 25 countries, closing a five-day celebration of his 60th anniversary on the throne.
  
  Lobster and other delicacies, including produce from farming projects sponsored by the king, reportedly featured in the five-course dinner at Bangkok‘s royal palace.
  
  Thai television, which showed the king and Queen Sirikit receiving their dinner guests, discreetly refrained from broadcasting the meal, resuming only for the evening‘s closing remarks.
  The king spoke briefly, saying that
  
  Brunei‘s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Asia‘s second-longest reigning monarch after Bhumibol, then delivered a short speech praising the king for his “dignity, wisdom, courage,” and led the guests in a toast to their royal host.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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