King Maha Vajiralongkorn addresses the Nation New Year’s Wish
In keeping with decades of tradition, Thailand’s new constitutional monarch King Maha Vajiralongkorn addressed the nation the day before the New Year to thank the people for their show of love and respect toward his late father and urge them to be unified to solve the country’s problems, as record numbers of worshippers attended New Year prayers at temples across the land.
“No matter what problems we may face in our country, we believe that if we work together we can overcome and alleviate any situation,” King Maha Vajiralongkorn said.
Seated at a desk in his palace and flanked by portraits of his late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his mother Queen Sirikit, the bespectacled monarch thanked the people for their show of devotion to King Bhumibol and said their outpouring of affection touched him. His father’s passing was a great loss for the people, the King added.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn also thanked the Thai people for supporting him in all his endeavors, and wished them well for the coming year. The King’s New Year’s address is a tradition for the monarchy and this was the first marking of that occasion by King Maha Vajiralongkorn, providing continuity of culture and tradition.
Many economic and political analysts have cited the smooth transition from one royal reign to another as a positive sign the country is steadily moving forward.
On New Year’s Day, long lines of people waited outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok to sign books wishing the new king well. Among the thousands who visited the palace were Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and members of his cabinet along with representatives from political parties, senior bureaucrats, military commanders, foreign diplomats, other dignitaries and some former prime ministers.
Meanwhile, Minister of Culture Vira Rojpojchanarat reported that 19.7 million Thais participated in ceremonies at temples to offer prayers for the New Year. The figure was a record and amounts to nearly one third of the Thai population. The prayer meetings were organized by 19 ministries and state agencies.
“It is pleasing to see a lot of children and young people taking part. Many people come with the whole family. They prayed to make merit for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and to offer blessings for His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn,” the culture minister said.
The prayers were led by Buddhist monks and lay people where monks were not available. Prayer meetings were held in all 77 provinces at 24,593 locations including 442 temples in Bangkok and 24,151 temples in the provinces.
Similar events were held at some 120 Thai Buddhist temples overseas, according to the culture minister.