UK Thais throng to celebration
Princess welcomed by 5,000 people to help honour the King
Over 5,000 members of Britain's 36,000-strong Thai community turned out in the capital on Saturday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne.
Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsavali graced the celebrations at Wat Buddhapadipa, in the Wimbledon area.
The Princess's arrival at the 40-year-old royal temple was greeted by cheers from a crowd of school children, civil servants, diplomats, expatriate Thais and well-wishers from around the UK, who formed long lines on both sides of the temple's entrance.
Receiving the Princess on her arrival at the temple were its abbot, Phrarachbhavanavimol, Vikrom Koompirochana, the Thai ambassador to Britain, and other high-ranking officials.
"It's a great pleasure to be able to visit the temple, join in this most auspicious event and meet Thais here," said the Princess.
During the ceremony, the Princess conferred certificates to more than 200 outstanding Thais for their contributions to Buddhism and the Thai community. After participating in religious formalities, and despite the sweltering heat, the Princess added to the day's jubilation by going on a walkabout in which members of the Thai community got up close with their princess.
The Princess was delighted at news that Buddhism was prospering in the UK with last year's opening of a new Thai temple - Wat Dhammapadipa in Edinburgh.
Ambassador Vikrom, who chaired the 300-member organising committee, was overwhelmed at the huge turnout and the royal presence.
"On behalf of Thais in the UK, I felt a great honour to receive the Princess. Today we have seen many Thais coming from different parts of the country.
"For Thais overseas the chance to see and receive a member of the Royal Family is rare. So it is an auspicious opportunity that we Thais come together to celebrate on this occasion.
"This event exhibits a collec-tive commitment of members
of the Thai community," Vikrom said.
Organised by the Thai Embassy in London, the two-day celebrations, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the temple's foundation, features an exhibition of HM the King's eventful reign and a string of cultural shows including a traditional Thai music performance by the Thai Music Circle, a traditional drum dance by the Thai Dance Academy of the UK, a Thai flute recital by national artist and poet Nawarat Pongpaibool, a Kinaree-Kinara dance by the Shan Culture Association of the UK and an Isaan music show by a group from Dhammapadipa Temple in Scotland.
The royal exhibition in honour of His Majesty attracted the attention of both Thais and locals.
Under royal patronage since 1965, Wat Buddhapadipa, the oldest of eight Thai temples across the UK with its famous murals by Chalermchai Kositpipat, has been a source of comfort for Thais in and around London.