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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Thailand marks king's anniversary
King Bhumibol addresses the crowd from his balcony
The king is highly revered in Thailand
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has called for national unity during colourful celebrations in the capital to mark his 60 years on the throne.

The king, who is the world's longest-serving monarch, addressed a cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands of people in Bangkok's Royal Plaza.

Speaking from the palace balcony, King Bhumibol, 78, said that unity would bring prosperity to Thailand.

Dignitaries from around the world are in Bangkok for the celebrations.

"Unity is a basis for all Thais to help preserve and bring prosperity to the country in the long run," the king told the crowd, which stretched some 3 km (2 miles).

Ordinary Thais tell of their affection for the king

"If Thais uphold these ethics, it will ensure that Thailand will stand firmly," he said.

'Historic event'

Hundreds of thousands of Thai's, most wearing yellow or carrying yellow flags to honour the monarch, had gathered to hear the king speak.

They received his address with shouts of "Long Live His Majesty!"

"Police estimate almost one million people were there at the peak of the royal audience," Bangkok police spokesman Colonel Pinit Maneerut told the AFP news agency.

"It's an unprecedented and historic event," he said.

Many people had arrived in the early hours to find a place from which to see the king, who is both highly revered and very popular.

Chom Taenglek, who arrived at dawn, wore a yellow shirt.

"This is a very auspicious opportunity," he told Reuters news agency.

"I would like to see all Thais sacrifice and do good for the country and our king, whom everyone should follow as a role model," he said.

'Lasting admiration'

The open displays of affection for the king are genuine, says the BBC's Jonathan Head. Few Thais have anything but praise for the man they describe as being the very soul of their country.

People all over the country have been wearing shirts to celebrate this special event, flags have been placed all over the streets around the country.
Steven, Bangkok

Watch the celebrations for King Bhumibol's anniversary

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