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They clean streets, dredge up dirty canals, and sometimes direct traffic, all for free in the name of Thailand's king. What began as a way to let the public help with the funeral of the last king has grown into a 4 million strong civilian army. Their blue and yellow outfits mark people who have jumped at the chance to serve King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Their good deeds are boosting his image both ahead of his coronation later this year, and as he shakes up royal affairs.>>
> As you can see, even elders and kids are helping out. It gives me courage to do the same. Whatever helps support society, I will do.
>> And you may have already spotted them in action this summer, as Reuters' Panu Wongcha-um reports.>> So one of the key highlights is the Cape rescue in Chiang Rai province this year. We've seen a large number of Rai volunteers turning up and supporting the rescue operation while they were working out trying to find ways to search and rescue the 12 boys and the football coach who were trapped inside the cave in Chiang Rai.
We were told by the palace official that they basically fed about 4,000 people every day, and they also do other official duties. For example, cleaning toilets, directing traffic, picking up rubbish.>> Volunteers have to go through an initiation process and line up and bow in front of the King's portrait before they give it a military-style salute, which they'll do before every community activity.
This public face of King Vajiralongkorn may give him a PR boost as he reshapes the monarchy. Some experts say he's trying to distance himself from the millitary which has held power since the 2014 coup