More than 11 million mourners pay respects to late King

The number of people who have paid respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej surpassed 11 million as the Grand Palace prepared to close its gates and end public viewing of the royal urn containing the late King’s remains ahead of his royal cremation at the end of this month, while in Paris, the head of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization praised the late Thai King for his lifelong development work.

Despite intense heat and monsoon rains, black-clad Thais from all walks of life and from every corner of the Kingdom were still lining up after 11 months in front of the Grand Palace for a chance to enter and kneel in reverence before the royal urn. The line to gain admittance stretched along Sanam Luang, where the royal cremation will take place, for several kilometers. The wait to enter varied between four and seven hours.

To accommodate those who still wish to pay their respects, King Vajiralongkorn ordered the Grand Palace to extend the deadline to visit until October 5. The Royal Household Bureau said last week that the 11,260,388 mourners and donated $24.94 million at the Palace in memory of the late King.

King Bhumibol’s cremation will take place on October 26. He passed away on October 13 of last year, and every October 13 will now be a national holiday in his honor. King Bhumibol, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty that has reigned over Thailand since 1782, was the world’s longest reigning monarch at the time of his passing, having occupied the throne for 70 years.

It was more than longevity, however, that earned him the love and devotion of his subjects. His commitment to improving the welfare of all Thais was acknowledged both at home and abroad. And in Paris last week, at the annual meeting of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a special session was organized to honor King Bhumibol and his life’s work.

The session, entitled “Creating Sustainable Society of Peace: A Legacy of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand,” was held on the first day of an International World Peace meeting co-organized by the UNESCO, the World Fellowship of Buddhists, the Thai Embassy in Paris, and the Office of the Thai Permanent Delegation to UNESCO.

In praising the late King, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said the principles of his Sufficiency Economy Philosophy were in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, and the U.N. had in fact used its principles as a blueprint for the goals.

She lauded King Bhumibol’s people-centered approach to development and said she was extremely moved when she visited Bangkok last month to lay a wreath in honor of the King at the Grand Palace.