Thailand’s new king urges unity in first New Year's speech

December 31, 2016 17:23

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn called for unity in his first New Year's address since taking over from his late father, who was widely seen as a unifying force during decades of turbulence in the Southeast Asian country.

Any appearance by the new king is closely watched and the pre-recorded address was only the second time he has spoken to the public since taking the throne on Dec. 1 after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The new king has yet to command the popularity that his father enjoyed and has spent much of his adult life abroad.

In the speech he thanked the public for their show of loyalty towards his father, still widely mourned after a rule that spanned seven decades. The usual New Year firework displays in Bangkok have been cancelled this year out of respect for the mourning period.

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