Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over an elaborate military parade yesterday where soldiers and police officers pledged allegiance to the monarch.
The event, which spanned around two hours, took place at a military base in Saraburi province, around 100km north of Bangkok.
It included a big showcase of military hardware such as aircraft, heavy artillery, cavalry, tanks, and other armoured vehicles, involving over 6,800 soldiers.
Soldiers and police officers recited an oath of undying fealty to Vajiralongkorn, who thanked them for their solidarity in a brief speech.
It was the first time police officers joined soldiers in reciting the oath.
“The nation is united when all are in unison to perform their duties with the same ideals and objectives,” Vajiralongkorn said.
Yesterday’s spectacle builds on the annual Armed Forces Day parade which takes place every January 18 to mark the anniversary of a battle 500 years ago when a Thai king is said to have slain a Burmese prince while riding an elephant.
It was the first such military parade to be attended by a Thai king since Vajiralongkorn’s father, the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej, observed a similarly elaborate army march in front of a Bangkok palace in 1996 to mark his reign’s 50-year anniversary.
Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne after Bhumibol’s death in October 2016 and has since made several moves to assert greater control, particularly over some military units and royal finances.
Yesterday’s ceremonies were brought to an end when with a royal anthem as soldiers repeatedly cried, “Long live the king!”
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