It was a heartbreaking time for all in Thailand when their monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, also called King Rama IX, died in October at the age of 88. As the people mourned – and lese majesté legislation was enforced with greater intensity – the heir apparent Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn declined the government’s invitation to ascend to the throne as early as possible, stating that he needed time to join fellow Thais in their grief. While he did so, the role of monarch was filled in by the Royal Privy Council as temporary regent while they waited for the right time.
That period of uncertainty ended on December 1 according to NBC news, when Vajiralongkorn officially accepted the government’s invitation that he ascend to the throne of Thailand. In effect, he shall now be known as King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (Descended by Flesh and Blood of God Indra, Overlord of all Angels), styled Rama X as the tenth ruler of the Chakri dynasty. His ancestor Rama I began the dynasty when he began to rule in 1782. The new king is 64, younger than the late monarch by only 24 years. While he is now acknowledged as ruler (with his ascension date retroactively moved back to Bhumibol’s death last October 13), Vajiralongkorn will not be formally crowned until after his father is cremated sometime next year.
The ceremony proper involved representatives of the interim parliament making the invitation to Vajiralongkorn in a royal audience at Dusit Palace, accompanied by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Chief Justice Weeraphol Tangsuwan and Regent Prem Tinsulanonda. After the new king accepted the invitation and received homage from the assembled officials, he then led them in Buddhist rites commemorating the 50 th day of his father’s passing.
A televised statement caught King Vajiralongkorn’s response in accepting the ceremonial invitation to take the throne: "I would like to accept in order to fulfill his majesty's wishes and for the benefit of all Thais.” He made this statement through a microphone handed him by one palace official who shuffled forward on his knees as mandated by protocol. Prime Minister Prayuth meanwhile described the newly ascended monarch as one who would become the "heart and soul" of the nation.
Born in 1952 and educated in the United Kingdom and Australia, Vajiralongkorn followed a military track, with a veteran record against Thai communist insurgencies and border clashes with the Khmer Rouge regime of Cambodia. Although he is the second-born child, his eldest sister Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya is ineligible for the throne as Thai royal succession laws only allow for male heirs.
He was declared Crown Prince in 1972. While not quite as popular with the public as his father, Rama X has taken steps to improve his image and public profile years before becoming king.
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