Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has greeted thousands of his subjects from a balcony of his Grand Palace on the third and final day of coronation ceremonies.
- King Vajiralongkorn took over from his popular father, who reigned for 70 years
- The King and Queen Suthida have participated in three-days of coronation processions
- He is Thailand’s tenth king in the Chakri dynasty, which began in 1782.
The king and queen were greeted with a band playing the royal anthem and a 21-gun salute.
The monarch and new Queen Suthida waved to a big crowd wearing yellow, the colour associated with the king, and waving flags in a royal audience, a day after a grand procession through Bangkok.
“I and the Queen are very pleased and delighted to see all the citizens together to express goodwill for my coronation,” he told them in his speech, thanking citizens for their blessings and wishing them happiness and success.
“May the unity in expressing your goodwill to me today be a good start for everyone, every party to unify your duties for the prosperity of our country.”
People began lining up early on Monday so they could be scanned by a metal detector and get close to the throne hall balcony where the king was later to appear.
Large video screens were placed nearby so those unable to make their way to the front could watch the proceedings.
The three branches of the armed forces saluted the king before the Prime Minister led the crowd in chanting “Long live the king!”.
Since becoming king 18 months ago, King Vajiralongkorn has moved to consolidate the authority of the monarchy, including taking more direct control of the crown’s vast wealth with the help of the military government.
Public audience caps elaborate three-day coronation
Though Thailand has had a constitutional monarchy since 1932, when a revolution ended absolute rule by kings, the country’s monarchs are regarded as almost divine and have been seen as a unifying presence in a country that has seen regular bouts of political instability as it rotates between elected governments and military rule.
The king and other top royals are protected by one of the world’s strictest lese majeste laws, which makes criticism of them punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
As the crowd waited Monday in the blazing tropical heat, some broke into cheers whenever a passing cloud blocked the sun.
“Today, our family of 13 people came here out of loyalty to the king,” Utain Sanggun, a Bangkok resident who donned a souvenir pin and royal logo cap, said.
“We are so happy. Yesterday, we waited until midnight to send off His Majesty. It was such an impressive image that I shed tears.”
The coronation started on Saturday, after a long period of official mourning for the king’s revered father, who died in October 2016 having reigned for 70 years.
By Sunday, King Vajiralongkorn was carried on a golden palanquin in a grand procession through Bangkok’s historic quarter which lasted for over six hours.
His wife, Queen Suthida, and eldest daughter, Princess Bajrakitiyabha, marched alongside.
King Vajiralongkorn is also known as King Rama X, because he is the 10th king in the Chakri dynasty, which began in 1782.
His coronation has involved a series of elaborate, centuries-old rituals rooted in Buddhist and Brahmanic traditions.
The coronation proceedings have been broadcast live on all television networks, allowing viewers a rare glimpse of historic royal rituals and interactions among members of the royal family.
A final coronation celebration will be held around late October, when there will be a royal barge procession on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.