As violence between anti-government protesters and police died down Wednesday in the Thai capital, people of all political persuasions waited to hear if their king would offer advice in his annual birthday speech to help resolve a crisis that has left the nation deeply divided.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turns 86 on Thursday, has often served as a unifying figure in times of crisis. Many people are hopeful the king can step in - as he has done decisively before - to ease the current standoff, which results from years of enmity between supporters and opponents of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was deposed by a 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and disrespect for the king.
Political street fighting that had wracked pockets of Bangkok since the weekend ended abruptly Tuesday ahead of the birthday celebrations.
Although the protesters pledged to march peacefully Wednesday, demonstrators knocked over concrete barriers, cut barbed wire and tried to scale the fences at the national police compound in central Bangkok.