THOUSANDS of people started queuing at 3am to receive free copies of two books commemorating their much-beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, prompting the Culture Ministry to hand them out three hours early.
However, by 10am, the line had reached Pinklao Bridge, several kilometres away from the National Museum.
The books are “King Bhumibol Adulyadej”, a retrospection on the late monarch’s life and royal works, and “99 Royal Teachings”, an anthology of his teachings.
After His Majesty passed away at the age of 89 on October 13, memorabilia about him has been much sought after. When the Culture Ministry revealed the plan to hand out the free copies, people turned out in huge numbers to make sure they got a copy.
The ministry gave away 40,000 copies yesterday and will continue at that rate every day till its stock of 200,000 copies is gone.
The delivery times are 9am, noon, 3pm and 5pm each day.
The “99 Royal Teachings” was published as a pocketbook so that readers can carry it everywhere, making them feel like the much-loved monarch is always with them.
“We have prepared easy-to-understand contents…It makes clear why Thais love the late King so much,” he said.
The two books also include well-printed royal portraits, including rare images.
The project was in response to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s instruction to immortalise His Majesty.
“I hope the two valuable books will benefit all the owners in that they can follow the late King’s teachings,” said Saimai Jobkolsuek, a member of the advisory staff for language, document and literature from the Royal Household Bureau.
Vira said his ministry plans more printings for free distribution if sponsors come forward.
The Government Saving Bank, for example, has already donated Bt5 million.
“We expect to publish up to 1 million copies for each book,” he said.
Saimai said all the King’s speeches were valuable with a great philosophy.
“They are very practical too,” he said.
Recipients of the commemorative books were overjoyed. “I will put the books on my altar at home. The royal teachings will guide my life,” said Natruja Sapchaloem, 49.
“I want to keep everything about the late King as much as I can because I really miss him.”
Jintana Pinjorn, 51, said she would read the books aloud to her children. “That way, they will know fully why I love the King so much.”
Orrawan Miangmook, 76, said she intended to preach the royal wisdom to her children.
A 57-year-old housewife from Bangkok, Waraporn Piangpairoon, said the books provided by the Culture Ministry were especially precious because they were something “money could not buy”.