Prince plans year of ‘mourning’ 

Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. Source: Wikimedia

The coronation of Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn will be delayed more than a year as part of the “mourning” period for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, it has been announced. 

The late king’s 64-year-old son would take the throne after funeral rites had been completed, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

Bhumibol ascended to the throne the same day in 1946 that his older brother, King Ananda Mahidol, died in an unexplained firearm “accident” and it had been expected that the crown prince would become monarch instantly.

But Vajiralongkorn reportedly said he wanted to grieve for his father.

“I’m feeling uneasy after hearing of the king’s passing,” said mourner Kanokwan Komwat, 75. “We can’t rely on anybody else but him. I’m sorry the prince doesn’t want to be king yet, but he’s still grieving.”

The 96-year-old ex-military chief and prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda will act as regent until the coronation. This prolonged handover period will presumably ensure the military maintains a firm grip on power for at least another year.

Thailand has the world’s strictest lèse-majesté laws to silence anyone criticising the royal family. Meanwhile, it was reported that in Phuket a mob pursued a shopkeeper on Saturday after he allegedly posted disrespectful social media comments about the monarchy.

“One of [the crown prince’s] important remarks was that he asked the people not to be confused or concerned about government affairs, including the royal succession,” Prayuth said.

“He said that at this moment, everyone and every side, including his royal highness himself, are still stricken by grief and sorrow, so every side should help get through or ease this enormous grief first,” the former general said.

Mourners will be allowed to pay respects to the king in front of his royal urn inside the Grand Palace’s throne hall after 15 days of royal prayers, it was announced.

The Thai authorities have cancelled concerts and beach parties and shut Bangkok’s red-light districts. But it has been recommended that tourist attractions and transport remain operational so as not to damage the tourist sector, which accounts for more than 10 per cent of GDP.