Thais celebrate Queen’s birthday, King donates to hospital

Thais across the land made merit and wore blue lastweek in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on her 85th Birthday Anniversary, which the nation also celebrate as Mother’s Day, while her son His Majesty Maha Vajiralongkorn used the occasion to donate several million dollars to Siriraj Hospital to fund the construction of a new wing for patients.

Celebrations for the Queen were more subdued than in previous years because she is still grieving the passing of her husband His Majesty King Bhumibol Adjulyadej last October 13. She made a brief appearance at a small merit making ceremony led by Buddhist monks at the palace, accompanied by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhorn. Official mourning for the late king will end following his grand cremation ceremony at Sanam Luang, the great field in front of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok this coming October 26.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and members of his cabinet also led honors for Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, giving alms to 851 Buddhist monks from temples all around Bangkok at the Royal Plaza.  Among those paying respects were senior judges, bureaucrats and military leaders, who accompanied the Prime Minister to sign a well-wisher’s book at the Grand Palace. The entire crowd wore blue, which is the Queen’s astrological color.

Seven palaces across the country were opened to the public so people could sign guest books with their wishes for the Queen, and thousands queued to do that. In addition, large crowds gathered at the palaces and Sanam Luang in the evening for a candle-lighting ceremony to show their reverence for the only Queen many Thais have ever known. Her coronation was in 1950.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is beloved for her many royal projects designed to uplift the poor, hilltribe people and the country’s Muslim minority, as well as raising the status of women and families. Her SUPPORT Foundation helped rural women gain skills as artisans in traditional Thai arts and crafts so they could earn extra income for their families and become more self-sufficient.

Her involvement in a wide range of issues is evident in the stunning array of awards she has received from groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Asia Society, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNESCO and Stanford University. She was also elected to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame for her promotion of traditional Thai clothing and fashion.

Continuing the royal family’s tradition of giving and service, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn last week donated to fund the building of a new medical center at Siriraj Hospital that will have 25 floors and 355 beds.

His Majesty King raised the funds from sales of diaries featuring his drawings. During a ceremony to present the funds to the dean of the Faculty of Medicine, the King expressed his gratitude to the doctors and hospital staff for their care and treatment of his late father King Bhumibol.