Thais nationwide celebrate 85th birthday of revered king
BANGKOK - Hundreds of thousands of people from across Thailand have gathered in the streets of Bangkok for a rare public appearance by King Bhumibol Adulyadej on his 85th birthday.
The King, whose birthday is also celebrated as Father's Day and a national holiday, appeared briefly on the balcony of the ornate Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, overlooking the Royal Plaza which was transformed by the crowd into a vast sea of yellow dressed as they are in the King's official colour.
Wednesday's appearance by the monarch was only the sixth time in his 66 years on the throne that he has appeared on the balcony; the last time he did so was on the 60th anniversary of his reign in 2006.
In a brief message read, the Thai King urged his people to be virtuous for the sake of the unity of the nation. "May the power of the triple gems protect the nation'' he said in a reference to the Buddha, the Dhamma (the Buddha's teachings) and the Sangha (the community of monks).