Thailand Sets Oct. 26 for King Bhumibol’s Cremation

Nontarat Phaicharoen
2017.04.25
Bangkok
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170425-TH-bhumibol-pyre-1000.jpg A funeral pyre and surrounding pavilions for late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej are seen under construction inside Sanlam Luong Park, in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, April 25, 2017.
AFP

Updated at 9:23 a.m. ET on 2017-04-26

Thailand will cremate the body of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct. 26 during funeral rites lasting five days and coming more than a year after his death, the government announced Tuesday.

The royal cremation and other rites will be part of a state funeral that promises to be as grand and elaborate as the life of the monarch who reigned for 70 years, with construction already under way in Bangkok for a massive pyre for Bhumibol.

His funeral rites, starting Oct. 25, will close out a year of national mourning preceding the coronation of his son and successor, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, at a yet to be determined date in December.

“The royal funeral committee, led by the prime minister, suggested to the King the dates for cremation rite and his majesty agreed to hold the rite from Oct. 25 to 29,” Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the spokesman for Thailand’s military government, confirmed to BenarNews, referring to consultations with King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Until his death at age 88 of health-related complications on Oct. 13, 2016, King Bhumibol was the world’s longest ruling monarch. His reign surpassed that of Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated her 91st birthday on April 21 and who has sat on the United Kingdom’s throne for 65 years.

The king’s death plunged Thailand into mourning, as tens of thousands of people converged on the Thai capital and stood in line for hours to grieve for and pay their respects to Bhumibol. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha announced a year of national mourning that will officially end on Oct. 30, 2017.

The king’s 64-year-old heir, his only son among four children, ascended to the throne on Dec. 1, 2016, but has yet to be officially crowned. On April 21, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreau-ngam, announced that the coronation of King Maka Vajiralongkorn would take place in December, but a date has not been set.

The body of the late king is being kept at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, which lies next to the site where a funeral pyre complex featuring intricate art pieces is being built as the centerpiece for the state funeral (see accompanying photo essay), which is expected to draw dignitaries and other attendees from across the globe.

On Oct. 25, King Bhumibol’s body will be moved from the palace and placed on the pyre, where it will be cremated the next day, Sansern said.

The king’s ashes will then be collected and placed in an urn housed in the Chakri Maha Prasart Throne Hall, and Buddhist monks will chant over them during a merit-making ceremony, the spokesman added.

An earlier version contained wrong information about the date of King Bhumibol's death.

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