January 1, 2019 / 6:10 AM / 2 months ago

Thai king to be crowned in ceremonies May 4-6

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s king will be officially crowned in elaborate ceremonies on May 4-6 as the latest ruler in the centuries-old monarchy, the royal palace said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn attends the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony in central Bangkok, Thailand, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, has been serving since shortly after his father died in 2016 following a 70-year reign.

“His Majesty deems it fit to hold the coronation ceremony per royal traditions for the good fortune of the nation and the kingdom, to be enjoyed by the hopeful people,” a palace statement said.

In the three-day coronation, the king will be officially crowned on May 4 and a celebration procession will be held on May 5. The king will meet the public and foreign dignitaries on May 6, the palace said.

Vajiralongkorn, also known by the title King Rama X, became Thailand’s constitutional monarch two years ago following the death of his revered father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on Oct. 13, 2016.

His official coronation has been delayed until after a year-long mourning period for Bhumibol, who was cremated in October 2017 in a grand royal funeral in Bangkok.

King Bhumibol was revered by Thais during his seven decades on the throne and the deep relationship between the monarchy and the military helped facilitate a smooth royal transition following his death.

Since then, Vajiralongkorn has overseen sweeping changes to royal affairs, including the running of palace finances, which were formerly managed by the government.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, but the king remains supremely regarded as the spiritual protector of its people and culture.

The kingdom is due to hold elections on Feb. 24, and the current election timeline means the coronation will likely take place before a new government is formed.

The elections are meant to restore democracy after a 2014 military coup ousted an elected prime minister, though changes to the constitution in the interim ensure the military will retain a great deal of control.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, Patpicha Tanakasempipat, Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Stephen Coates, Kim Coghill and Neil Fullick

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