BANGKOK: Thailand's coronation ceremonies for King Maha Vajiralongkorn begin on Saturday (Mar 4), in elaborate procedures steeped in ancient tradition.
The 66-year-old monarch will be crowned as King Rama X of the Royal House of Chakri, more than two years after the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Major events on Saturday will take place at the Grand Palace, starting with the purification and anointment ceremonies. Holy water collected from more than 100 water sources nationwide, including four sacred ponds and five main rivers, will be used in the ablution for the king ahead of the crowning rituals.
The newly crowned king will then present his first royal command and grant an audience to members of the royal family, the privy council, the Cabinet and senior officials. In the afternoon, he will proclaim himself the royal patron of Buddhism at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
KING RAMA X
King Vajiralongkorn is the 10th monarch of the Chakri dynasty and thus also known as King Rama X. Born in Bangkok on Jul 28, 1952, he is the only son of the late King Bhumibol and 86-year-old Queen Mother Sirikit.
His reign started on Oct 13, 2016 following his father’s death. However, his formal coronation only takes place in May due to a period of mourning for the late king and his cremation a year after his passing.
Days before his coronation, King Vajiralongkorn married the deputy head of his personal guard force General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, and installed her as Queen Suthida and a member of the royal family.
Their marriage was witnessed by his younger sister Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Privy Councillor president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda and other senior officials and palace advisors.
The royal coronation ceremony is an ancient tradition in Thailand that dates back to the Sukhothai period in the 13th-15th centuries.
Influenced by both Hindu and Buddhist practices, it is the formal observance that reflects the glory of the monarch’s ascension to the throne, as well as the stability and unity of the people in a country where the monarchy is highly revered.
The most important royal regalia King Vajiralongkorn will be presented with is the Great Crown of Victory. Adorned with diamonds set in gold enamel, the crown is 66cm tall and weighs about 7kg.
The coronation, which spans three days, will be the first in Thailand in seven decades.
On Sunday, the king will ride in the royal palanquin as his royal procession encircles the city by land – an opportunity for the public to pay respects to their new king. He will give a public audience the next day on a balcony in the Grand Palace before meeting international dignitaries.
King Vajiralongkorn's enthronement will be complete with the royal barge procession in October, when he travels along the Chao Phraya River to the Temple of Dawn to present robes to Buddhist monks.
About 2,300 oarsmen will be involved in this rare, rhythmic spectacle to row more than 50 royal barges along the 4km route.