Friday 24 May 2019

Thousands wait hours for glimpse of new king

Pomp and ceremony: King Maha Vajiralongkorn is carried through the streets outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok. AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
Pomp and ceremony: King Maha Vajiralongkorn is carried through the streets outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok. AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit

Kay Johnson Bangkok

NEW Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn visited Buddhist temples and greeted his subjects for the first time since his crowning in a royal procession around Bangkok yesterday.

"Long live the king!" shouted well-wishers who lined roads for hours under the blazing sun and well into the night, hoping for a glimpse of the constitutional monarch who is revered in Thai culture as a living deity.

King Vajiralongkorn, carried through the streets by 16 men bearing his gilded palanquin, visited three royal temples, starting with Bovoranives, where he spent 15 days as a Buddhist monk in 1978.

He paid homage to the temple's main Buddha image as well as the relic and cremated remains of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Clad in gold-embroidered vestments and wearing the same black military-style hat that his father wore at his coronation 69 years ago, the king also visited Rajabopidh temple, the abode of the current Buddhist supreme patriarch, and Chetuphon temple to pay respects to the relic of the first Chakri monarch.

Conch shell horns heralded the parade, which was accompanied by two horseback cavalry soldiers, a military marching band and royal guards in a mixture of ancient Thai and modern Western-style uniforms.

Spectators all wearing yellow, the colour associated with the king, gathered from early morning along the 7km route from the Grand Palace to three royal temples.

The Thai government, which is spending one billion baht (€28m) on the three days of the coronation ceremonies, has said crowds of at least 200,000 people were expected.

Irish Independent

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