Thailand begins installing Prince Vajiralongkorn as new king

Crown prince must accept parliament’s invitation in order to be proclaimed king

Workers lift a portrait of Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn at a shop in Bangkok on Tuesday. Photograph: Dario Pignatelli/Getty Images

Workers lift a portrait of Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn at a shop in Bangkok on Tuesday. Photograph: Dario Pignatelli/Getty Images

 

Thailand’s parliament will invite Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to become the new king following the death of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej last month, the president of the legislative body said on Tuesday.

Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, president of the National Legislative Assembly, said in a televised session the prince would be invited to ascend the throne after the cabinet earlier on Tuesday formally asked parliament to begin the process of installing a new monarch.

Members of the assembly stood up during a short parliamentary session and shouted: “Long live the king!”

The prince will have to accept parliament’s invitation in order for him to be proclaimed king, according to established procedure.

Defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan said: “We expect an audience [with the prince] within the next one to two days.”

Two senior military sources said Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn would fly into Bangkok on Wednesday from Germany, where he has a home.

The death of the much loved King Bhumibol on October 13th plunged the southeast Asian nation into mourning. Most Thais have known no other monarch.

King Bhumibol, who was the longest-serving head of state in the world when he died at the age of 88, played a stabilising role during decades of often violent conflict in Thailand.

The crown prince’s invitation to become monarch will likely allay some public concerns the succession might not go according to plan.

The prince, who will be known as King Rama X, or the 10th king of the 234-year-old Chakri Dynasty, can only be formally crowned after his father’s royal cremation, which will take place next year.

Thailand will begin building the late king’s funeral pyre next year and 8,000 people will be involved in the cremation ceremony, the government said last week.

The prince has not spoken publicly since his father’s death and news about his plans has come through the government.

Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said last month the prince had asked to delay the succession in order to grieve with the public.

Mr Prayuth, who took power from an elected government in a 2014 coup, has said a year-long mourning period for the king will not affect a general election the junta has promised to hold in 2017.

The military, which has traditionally portrayed itself as he ultimate defender of the monarchy, is widely expected to remain a key power broker even after the 2017 general election.

Reuters