The profound grief amongst those present, while the rain fell as if it could wash away their tears, reflected the sorrowful state of the nation – as most Thais who now call Phuket home hail from all corners of the Kingdom.
Many foreigners today share in that grief. Notes of condolences posted alongside stories of HM the late King’s passing plainly show how many long-term expats over the years have come to call His Majesty “our King”. And that he was, a King for the people.
For many of these foreigners it took years to come to understanding that. As outsiders, it is easy to deconstruct through discourse the late King’s political role over the decades, without accurately taking into consideration His Majesty the late King’s true impact on his people.
Visitors who ask a Thai, “Why do you love him so much?” do not comprehend why the reply might simply be, “You don’t understand” – this is a simple truth.
His Majesty was loved more than a King. He was a man of greatness who performed his official duties with appropriate aplomb, but went far beyond that when it came to the needs of his people.
He literally brought water for the people in times of drought. He took steps to bring safety in times of flood.
He visited the poor, not on glory trips in stunted public-relations exercises, but to see their plight first-hand – and then he did something about it, not with glorious speeches overloaded with policy rhetoric, but by instituting real action that improved their lives.
Beyond this, Thais saw a man who also loved his music, his sports, his family – and yes, his dog. He was a man who chose to enjoy those simple things in life that all people enjoy. He also suffered the same grief when he lost a loved one.
In all this, Thais were gifted a blessing of a King who genuinely cared for people, and they know this. And now they have lost their Father.
Bear with them in this time of mourning.
Thailand, we mourn with you.