A Royal Spectacle
Thailand is currently in the midst of an event that is somewhat incomprehensible to Americans like us. The Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej is celebrating 60 years on the throne (making him the world's longest serving monarch) and this event has the Thai people entranced. A couple of nights ago, the King welcomed royalty from over 25 countries to his palace for a gala and it seemed that every Thai TV in the country tuned in for the event. As we learned the next day, it was extremely rare for the people to see their beloved King, even on TV. As one restaurant manager explained to us "everyone is just so happy for the King". The event even took precedence over the World Cup. More on BBC News
The reason I say it is incomprehensible to us is that we have never known an enduring personal symbol of our country. Seeing the incredible love, dedication and almost religious devotion to the King, it makes us realize how important his role is for national unity and stability. He is, to an astounding degree, the symbol of Thai success, morality and stability. It makes us wonder what it would be like to have American royalty. Would the country be so divided? Would the American equivalent of the Thai King be a positive influence, or a joke?