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Thailand mourns a princess

Posted by Andrew on 3 January 2008, 1:34 am

The people of Thailand awoke to the sad but not unexpected news on January second that the aging Princess Galyani Vadhana, older sister of the present King, had finally passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.

All flags were flown at half mast and all government officials ordered to participate in 15 days of mourning, including subdued activities and wearing black clothing. The Eighty-four year old, sister to two kings in her life-time, was much loved by the Thai public for her charity work.

Although all entertainment won’t be banned during the period, and tourists not too inconvenienced, visitors to Thailand will be able to witness the extraordinary outpouring of love the public has for its monarchy. Thousands turned out at the hospital to pay their last respects, while bathing rites were conducted Tuesday and Wednesday. Her Royal Highness is now lying in state at the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall of the Grand Palace.

TV programming was dominated by remembrance documentaries celebrating a life in which she was an important patron of classical music in Thailand and set up a foundation for doctors to better reach the people.

Tourists wishing to visit the Grand Palace might experience some crowding and are advised to enter via the entrance opposite the Ministry of Defence. All visitors are also advised to behave with restraint and respect when encountering any memorial events to the princess, as the people of Thailand are extremely sensitive to protocol involving the monarchy.

Thailand’s monarchy is much respected and beloved by all Thais, particularly with the King reach 80 years of age on December 5th and holding the honour of being the world’s longest reigning monarch – a total of 61 years. The funeral is likely to be one of the most emotional events Thailand has experienced in recent years.

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