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Thai king makes maiden speech to his people

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From left: Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, Princess Bajrakitiyabha, the newly-crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greeting supporters on a balcony of the Grand Palace.

Bangkok

STANDING like the monarchs before him on the balcony of the gilded Grand Palace before a sea of yellow-clad supporters, Thailand's newly-crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn addressed tens of thousands of supporters on Monday in his first public speech as king.

"I and the queen are pleased and delighted to see the people having goodwill, and being here all together to show good wishes for my coronation," he said as supporters cheered. "Your unity in showing your goodwill, is a good sign for everyone to do good things for the prosperity of the nation." His appearance before the public, before a reception for Thailand's diplomatic corps, ended an opulent and costly three-day coronation event, the likes of which hasn't been seen in this South-east Asian country for almost 70 years.

Junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is seeking to extend his term as prime minister, was front and centre in much of the coronation rituals; he read out a blessing to the new king on Monday evening.

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He said: "We - the civil servants, military, police and the people - will be loyal to you and the Chakri dynasty, for life."

On behalf of the Thai people, he wished the king a long life. WP