It was hard to imagine–the whole country stopped to be addressed by HRH Queen Sirikit on Sunday for her birthday.
She was loving of her people, speaking across the spectrum of Thais. She took up the issue of flooding in the Northeast by scolding the greedy timber industry which has created the situation of mudslides; she looked to her consistent concern with the Chao Praya River as a source of water and food for Thai people during difficult times which has been contaminated to nearly beyond repair; she urged Thais to seek freedom of religion for their country to deal with the issues in the South rather than create a national religion of Buddhism. People had waited outside the palace for two days just to be near her when she spoke.
The Queen spoke to the effect that when she traveled to the small villages to find out how to help them harness the power of traditional Thai arts to help support the local communities, she was not recevied with the traditional respect of a queen but with the respectful familiar tone. However, among Thais she, along with the King, are rightfully revered. Not only are there words taken to heart by all Thais, but they put their words into practice–the Queen has served as the president of Thailand’s Red Cross since 1956 and worked on conservation, preservation, and health issues as long. Her speech Monday was immediately honored in its request to increase freedom of religion to prevent further violence in the South.
It’s hard to understand the concept of being a subject. Thais all seem comfortable with it, as no one mocks or considers themselves above being part of the monarchy, youthful rebelliousness or not. Even in hushed tones, Thais are still respectful of their rulers and their ideas are seen as both insightful, beneficial, and instructive to the country’s greater good. The royals seem to easily be able to look beyond politics, communing relgion’s values with nationalistic dedication in an attempt to be models of humanity.
My background with nobility has often been marred by the thumbing-of-the-nose toward authority; even the British royalty seems to not be above reproach to the Brits. Thais have the similar independent streak that Americans do–give the Thais a fork and spoon (courtesy of King Rama V) and they make it their own; give them a road with rules and watch out ;-). But the King and Queen supercede this and continue to benevolently rule people who are devoted to them. What is a subject who loves their rulers?
Long live the Queen.