Thailand invites crown prince to become king
> Parliament’s move ends period of uncertainty
BANGKOK: Thailand’s parliament yesterday invited Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to become the next king, resolving lingering anxiety over his accession following his father’s death last month.
The country has been plunged into mourning since widely revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Oct 13, ending a remarkable seven-decade reign and removing a key pillar of unity in a bitterly divided nation.
Yesterday’s move ends a period of uncertainty sparked by the junta making the surprise announcement after Bhumibol’s death that the prince had asked to delay his official proclamation so he could mourn.
“I will invite the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to succeed to the throne and become king of the Thai people,” Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, head of the rubber stamp National Legislative Assembly, said.
Lawmakers then stood up and replied: “Long live the king”.
The parliamentary endorsement came after the cabinet officially submitted Vajiralongkorn’s name earlier in the day.
Prawit Wongsuwan, deputy prime minister and the junta’s number two, said the prince’s ascension was “proceeding step-by-step” according to the country’s arcane succession rules.
According to protocol, the assembly speaker will now seek a royal audience with the prince to invite him to ascend the throne, the last step before being proclaimed the new monarch.
Prawit said that would likely happen “either tomorrow or the day after”.
Vajiralongkorn, 64, has been the named successor to Bhumibol for over four decades.
He spends much of his time outside the kingdom, particularly in southern Germany where he owns property.
A military source said the prince is currently in Germany.
He will soon inherit one of the world’s richest monarchies, an institution protected by a tough royal defamation law. – AFP
A picture of Vajiralongkorn is displayed for sale at a royal memorabilia shop in Bangkok yesterday.