BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s king presided over an oath-taking ceremony at an army base where almost 7,000 soldiers and police paraded to mark Armed Forces Day.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s presence at the ceremony was unusual, as Thai monarchs have rarely, if ever, attended the occasion, even though the royal palace and the military are closely linked.
Queen Suthida and the king’s oldest daughter, Princess Bajrakitiyabha, also attended.
The government announced that the ceremony was not only to mark Armed Forces Day, but also to honour the king’s coronation, which took place last year.
“I pledge my life to honour and sustain the greatness of the king. I pledge my loyalty to Your Majesty and will serve and guard Your Majesty till the end of my life,” Chief of Defence Forces General Pornpipat Benyasri said as he led the oath-taking ceremony at the Adisorn Military Camp in the central province of Saraburi.
Vajiralongkorn gave his thanks for their oath of allegiance and said he hoped they would all keep their promise to work for the benefit of the nation and the people.
The military has declared protection of the monarchy to be its priority, stressing the point as the nation has undergone political upheavals in the past decade and a half that have shaken the almost total reverence for the monarchy obtained under Vajiralongkorn’s father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016.