Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn led thousands of cyclists through the streets of Bangkok to pay their respects to Queen Sirikit who turned 83 this week.
The “Bike for Mom” cyclists wore her favourite color, sky blue, and undertook a 43km (27 mile) course around the city in unforgiving heat.
The Crown Prince was also joined by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his cabinet.
Thais outside the capital also did the same with 300,000 registered cyclists.
The country’s revered monarch, the 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his wife, Queen Sirikit, are both in frail health and not seen in public life anymore.
The “Bike for Mom” event is the first to be led by the 63 year old prince and considered a palace public relations event both to cement his succession to the throne, his role as a dutiful son and as a leader that can mix with the public.
The event also taps into recent public interest in cycling as a hobby and the Crown Prince was dressed suitably for the recent craze.
The Associated Press said, “Sunday’s bike ride was an apparent effort to rehabilitate the image of the crown prince, who is usually seen at formal events and rarely mingles with the public.”
The BBC reported that the prime minister hoped the event would promote national unity after last year’s military coup.
Organisers were also seeking to break a world record for the most number of cyclists at an event – the record is held by Taiwan at 72, 919 participants.