Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has been proclaimed the country’s new king, succeeding his much-revered late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The prince accepted the throne in a TV broadcast following an invitation from parliament, formalizing his accession.
King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, died on October 13.
The late king was widely seen as a pillar of stability during seven decades of political turmoil in Thailand.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn had been expected to become the next king the day after his father’s death, but PM Prayuth Chan-ocha at the time said that he had asked to delay the official proclamation so he could mourn.
Instead, the prince was anointed in a special ceremony 50 days after the death of his father.
The crown prince becomes King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, the 10th monarch of the Chakri dynasty, but will also be known as Rama X.
“I would like to accept in order to fulfill his majesty’s wishes and for the benefit of all Thais,” he said in a TV statement.
Image source Wikimedia
The broadcast showed one official shuffling on his knees to hand a microphone to the new king in the ceremony at the palace in Bangkok.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was among top government figures attending, said the new king would become the “heart and soul” of the nation.
Maha Vajiralongkorn was given the title of crown prince, making him the official heir, in 1972.
He is yet to enjoy the same level of popularity as his father, and spends much of his time abroad.
The prince’s accession to the throne ends a period of uncertainty during which Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, a 96-year-old former prime minister, has been serving as regent.
Thailand’s monarchy is protected from criticism by tough lèse-majesté laws, which restrict media discussion about the royal family’s role, including in the international press.
Most ordinary Thais know only a few details about who the crown prince is and how he lives his life.
In recent years he has tried to improve his profile – important because the king is traditionally seen as a guiding force in Thai politics, which is highly polarized.
Maha Vajiralongkorn’s coronation will not happen until after King Bhumibol’s cremation, expected next year.
Bhumibol’s own coronation took place four years after his brother King Ananda Mahidol died of gunshot wounds in mysterious circumstances.
Thailand’s parliament has invited Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to take the country’s throne.
It approved the sending of a formal invitation, which Prince Vajiralongkorn has to accept before becoming the country’s new king.
The deeply revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on October 13, plunging the Asian country into mourning.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was widely expected to succeed his father, but officials had earlier said he wanted to postpone it by at least a year.
Image source Wikimedia
The official reason given was that the prince wanted to give the Thai people time to mourn his father before he became king.
According to correspondents, Thailand was left in an odd constitutional limbo as Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the undisputed heir, should have succeeded his father immediately.
In the past doubts have been expressed by senior officials over how the crown prince can perform the role played by King Bhumibol for 70 years.
The monarchy occupies a pivotal place in Thailand’s political order.
King Bhumibol had been seen as a unifying figure amid periods of political unrest, including during the most recent military coup in 2014.
The leader of Thailand’s parliament, the National Legislative Assembly, is expected to meet Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in the next few days to formally invite him. Once he accepts, his succession would then be announced to the public.
However, it is still not clear when that will happen.
Former PM Prem Tinsulanonda is currently standing in as regent.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at the age of 88.
King Bhumibol was widely revered but had been in poor health in recent years, making few public appearances.
After 70 years as head of state, the king was seen as a stabilizing figure in a country hit by cycles of political turmoil and multiple coups.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will be the new monarch, the prime minister has said.
After two days of speculation and rumors surrounding King Bhumibol’s deteriorating health, the palace announcement confirming the monarch’s death finally came early on Thursday evening, October 13.
“His majesty has passed away at Siriraj Hospital peacefully,” a statement said, adding he had died at 15:52 local time.
In a TV address to the nation, PM Prayut Chan-ocha said Thailand would hold a one-year mourning period, that flags would fly half-mast and all entertainment functions must be “toned down” for a month.
In a later statement the prime minister urged vigilance, saying national security was a top priority.
“Everyone will need to be alert in every region and throughout the country to ensure safety,” he said.
King Bhumibol’s death comes as Thailand remains under military rule following a coup in 2014.
A palace official, speaking to crowds outside the hospital, said the king’s body would be moved to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok on October 14.
The king was widely respected across Thailand, and thought of by many as semi-divine.
Hundreds of mourners gathered outside the Bangkok hospital where he died, stricken with grief at the news.
Many held pictures of King Bhumibol and wore yellow or pink clothing in his honor.
Although the prime minister said Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would become the new monarch, he added that the official proclamation would be made at a later date.
PM Prayut Chan-ocha said the crown prince had confirmed that he would perform his duty as heir to the throne, but had asked for time to mourn his father’s death.
The 64-year-old crown prince is much less well known to Thais and has not attained his father’s widespread popularity. He spends much of his time overseas, especially in Germany.
King Bhumibol, who was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, acceded to the throne on June 9, 1946 after his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, died.
Though a constitutional monarch with limited official powers, many Thais looked to King Bhumibol to him to intervene in times of high tension. He was seen as a unifying and calming influence through numerous coups and 20 constitutions.
However, the king’s critics argued he had endorsed military takeovers and at times had failed to speak out against human rights abuses.
Following the death of King Bhumibol, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has become the world longest-reigning monarch, having been on the throne for 64 years.
Princess Srirasmi, the wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn of Thailand, has resigned her royal position, the palace has announced.
A statement said King Bhumibol Adulyadej had accepted Princess Srirasmi’s written request.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn had asked the government to strip his wife’s family of their royally bestowed name.
Seven of her relatives had been arrested in a purge of officials allegedly involved in corruption.
The palace statement, which appeared in the Royal Gazette, read: “Princess Srirasmi, wife of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn… has written to respectfully resign from her status in the royal family and permission has been granted by His Majesty the King.”
Princess Srirasmi is the crown prince’s third wife, and the pair married in 2001. They have a son.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn was already known to be estranged from Princess Srirasmi, although they continued to attend official functions together.
Princess Srirasmi’s uncle, a police general, was arrested over accusations of amassing vast wealth through smuggling and gambling rackets.
Four of her siblings and two other relatives have also been held.
Princess Srirasmi would have been expected to become queen when the crown prince succeeded his father.
The pivotal position of the monarchy in Thailand’s political order makes the succession an extremely sensitive issue.
Many aspects still cannot be reported from inside the country.
The strict lese majeste law criminalizes any critical comment about the monarchy.
King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch and a widely revered and unifying figure, has been on the throne in Thailand since 1946.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn of Thailand has asked the government to strip his wife Princess Srirasmi Akrapongpreecha’s family of their royally bestowed name.
The prince’s decision comes after seven of Princess Srirasmi Akrapongpreecha’s close relatives were arrested in a purge of officials allegedly involved in corruption.
Princess Srirasmi Akrapongpreecha is Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s third wife, and the pair married in 2001.
The move is widely expected to be a first step to divorce.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn was already known to be estranged from the princess, although they continued to attend official functions together.
The purge of Princess Srirasmi’s family over the past 10 days has been widely reported in Thailand.
However, until now the severity of the lese majeste law criminalizing any critical comment about the monarchy meant that no Thai media had pointed out the family connection.
Princess Srirasmi’s uncle, a senior police general, was arrested over accusations of amassing vast wealth through smuggling and gambling rackets.
Four of her siblings and two other relatives have also been held.
The office of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has now sent a letter to the interior ministry ordering her family to be stripped of the royal name he bestowed on them when he married her.
The dramatic downfall of Princess Srirasmi comes at a very sensitive time, analysts say, with the 86 year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej in poor health.
As the Crown Prince’s wife, Princess Srirasmi would have been expected to become Queen when he succeeds his father, a potentially very powerful position given the exalted status of the monarchy in Thailand.
The pivotal position of the monarchy in Thailand’s political order makes the succession an extremely sensitive issue, many aspects of which still cannot be reported from inside the country.
The world’s longest-reigning monarch, King Bhumibol has been on the throne in Thailand since 1946.
Thai coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has received royal endorsement at a ceremony in the capital, Bangkok, after taking power in a coup last week.
Prayuth Chan-ocha was formally appointed to run the nation at the army headquarters.
The 86-year-old monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, did not attend the ceremony.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha has received royal endorsement at a ceremony in Bangkok
The military seized power in the South East Asian nation last week, saying it planned to return stability to Thailand after months of unrest.
The move followed six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra. At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.
But the coup – which removed an elected government – has drawn widespread international criticism.
Small anti-coup protests took place in Bangkok over the weekend, despite a military ban on gatherings of more than five people.
Experts have also warned that the coup is unlikely to heal divisions in a nation in which politics have become highly polarized.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, dressed in white military uniform, received the royal endorsement on Monday morning.
“To restore peace and order in the country and for sake of unity, the king appointed General Prayuth Chan-ocha as head of the National Council of Peace and Order to run the country,” the royal command seen by AFP news agency said.
The monarchy is highly respected and royal endorsement is seen as key to legitimizing the takeover.
Speaking afterwards, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the most important thing was “to keep peace and order in the country”.
Elections would take place as soon as possible, he said, but gave no timeframe. He also said he would have no choice but to use force if protests continued.
The ruling junta is expected to set up a national legislative assembly that will draw up a temporary constitution with a new prime minister.
Since taking power, the military has summoned and detained dozens of key political figures, including Yingluck Shinawatra. Journalists and academics are also among those who have been called in.