Supreme commander Thanasak Patimaprakorn led commanders of the three armed forces — Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Adm Narong Pipattanasai and ACM Prajin Juntong — and police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew to pay their respects to the statesman, as is customary on Songkran.
Notable in their absence were Yingluck Shinawatra, in her capacity as caretaker defence minister, and defence permanent secretary Gen Nipat Thonglek.
A close aide to Gen Prem said that unlike Gen Thanasak, Ms Yingluck had not asked to meet Gen Prem. "It's not that Gen Prem did not allow Ms Yingluck to meet him," he said.
Her close aide said nobody had told her Gen Prem would allow visits on Friday. She was reported to have left for Chiang Mai where she would stay until April 16.
Traditionally, it is the defence minister who leads chiefs of the armed forces and the police to pay respects to Gen Prem.
"I retired 33 years ago but have continued to receive support, care and generosity from the armed forces and the police. This is a very good thing as it indicates a true friendship between us," the 94-year-old Privy Council president said.
"Our solidarity is formidable for those wishing ills on our nation," the three-time prime minister said.
"I remember His Majesty's advice that we must know our duty and perform it with integrity and that we must make sure those around us are honest and know their duties as well.
"We're doing this now. Gen Thanasak and the police are facing a hard, difficult, overwhelming task that we need to accomplish." he said.
"If we're united, perform our duties and make sure others do theirs as well, we'll succeed and people can rely on us. They'll love and trust us."
Of note, Gen Prem did not sprinkle water on anyone except Gen Paibul Koomchaya, assistant army chief who is touted to succeed Gen Prayuth, and Gen Apirat Kongsompong, commanding general of 1st Division, King's Guard.
Widely viewed as a key figure of the establishment, Gen Prem is believed to have enormous clout on the armed forces, and by extension, politics. His rare public appearances and comments are closely watched for political clues.