Crown prince formally becomes new monarch
Coronation will take place after his late father’s cremation after a one-year mourning period
Thailand’s new king on Friday made his first public appearance since ascending the throne the previous day, ending a period of uncertainty since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct 13.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, took part in a merit-making ceremony at Bangkok’s Grand Palace to mark 50 days since his father’s death plunged the country into grief, a particularly auspicious funerary period in Thai Buddhism.
Palace officials have announced that his full title is Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. He will also be known as King Rama X.
Civil servants dressed in black and white, the official colors of mourning, lined the streets to the palace as the new king’s convoy passed.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was then the crown prince, surprised some when he asked to delay his succession following the death of his father, leaving the throne unoccupied for seven weeks.
He officially took the throne in a brief ceremony televised late on Thursday.
Vajiralongkorn, 10th in the 234-year-old Chakri dynasty, faces the challenges of helping heal a nation fractured by a decade of sometimes violent political strife, and living up to his father’s reputation as a righteous, hardworking monarch dedicated to his country’s development.
The new king, with less intense interest in adminis- tration, does not command the same level of respect as Bhumibol. In recent years he has spent much of his time residing in Germany.
His coronation will take place after Bhumibol’s cremation, which will not occur until after a one-year mourning period has ended.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy but the palace is one of its most influential institutions.
On a street near the Grand Palace, shops on Friday displayed gold-framed portraits of the new king alongside pictures of his father.
“I hope that he will unite Thai hearts,” said Saonuttaporn Guachim, a student at Chulalongkorn University.
“Thai people love and respect the monarchy, and, for us, this is a new beginning,” said office worker Kharon Neungpirom. “We will love and respect (the king) as we always have.”
The new king’s older sister, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra were among those who posted congratulatory messages on their Instagram accounts.
Thai people love and respect the monarchy, and, for us, this is a new beginning.” Kharon Neungpirom, office worker
People hold up pictures of Thailand’s new King Maha Vajiralongkorn and late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Thursday.