December 01, 2016
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand prepared Thursday to welcome a new king, with final arrangements scheduled to formalize the accession of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to the throne. National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai is set have an audience with the prince later Thursday to invite him to become king, a constitutional formality, according to the assembly Vice President Peerasak Porchit.
Pornpetch’s public announcement of Vajiralongkorn’s acceptance, expected Thursday night, will complete the succession process, making the 64-year-old prince King Rama X, the tenth monarch in the Chakri dynasty that was founded in 1782.
Vajiralongkorn’s father, the much-revered Bhumibol Adulyadej, who took the throne in 1946, died on Oct. 13 at age 88 after many years of ill health. In 1972, Bhumibol designated Vajiralongkorn — his second child and only son — as his successor.
Vajiralongkorn was originally expected to assume the throne the day his father died, but in a surprise announcement, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the prince asked for the succession to be put off so he had time to mourn. In the interim, royal affairs have been overseen by a regent, Prem Tinsulanonda, who along with Prayuth and Supreme Court Chief Justice Veerapol Tungsuwan will accompany the assembly president at his audience to invite the prince to take the throne.
Thailand has been in a state of national mourning since Bhumibol’s death, and huge crowds have been paying respects to the late king’s remains at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. His body will be cremated in an elaborate ceremony that may take place a year or more after his death.
The coronation ceremony for Vajiralongkorn will take place only after the cremation.