Thailand Has a New King

BenarNews staff
2016.12.01
Bangkok
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161201-TH-king-1000.jpg Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, right, receives the invitation to become king of Thailand, at Dusit Palace in Bangkok, Dec. 1, 2016.
Courtesy Royal Thai Bureau

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn formally became Thailand’s king Thursday after accepting an invitation from the nation’s parliament to take the throne left vacant by his father’s death in mid-October.

Royal regent Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda led a delegation consisting of National Legislative Assembly speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and chief Supreme Court Judge Weerapol Tangsuwan to an audience with the 64-year-old crown prince at the Amporn Sathan Hall in Dusit Palace at around 7:15 p.m. The event was broadcast nationwide three hours later.

“As the chairman of the national legislation assembly, in capacity of the parliament spokesman, and on behalf of all Thai people, has extended an invitation to me to be the king, at the wish of the King Bhumibol Adulyadej and in accordance with the royal succession and the constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, I accept it to fulfill his majesty’s wish and for the benefit of all Thai people,” King Vajiralongkorn told the delegation during a brief official audience.

The 10th King of the Chakri Dynasty is named King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, or King Rama X.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreau-ngam said the commencement of the new king’s reign was retroactive to the day former King Bhumibol Adulyadej died of health complications at the age of 88, after a 70-year reign.

“The kingdom is retroactively in effect Oct. 13, because the throne cannot be vacant for too long, which is in line with the international royal succession rule,” he told reporters as he informed them to prepare for the development.

At the time, the crown prince – the king’s only son – declined to ascend the throne immediately, saying he wanted to grieve with the Thai people for his father, officials said.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn took over a kingdom divided by bitter rivalries among Thailand’s influential parties and governed by a junta. The military has twice since 2006 overthrown democratically elected governments led by members of the Shinawatra family.

Wissanu said in October that the coronation ceremony of King Rama X would not take place until the after the cremation of King Bhumilbol. Thailand will mourn the late king for at least one year before the cremation is held on the grounds of the Grand Palace.

Life of a prince

Born in Bangkok on July 28, 1952, Vajiralongkorn is the second of four children and only male born to King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit. On Tuesday, his 84-year-old mother was released from a local hospital where she was being treated for a lung infection and fever, the Associated Press reported.

The prince was educated in Thailand, England and Australia, where he attended the prestigious King’s School, near Sydney.

In 1972, at age 20, Vajiralongkorn was elevated to Crown Prince, officially putting him in line to inherit the throne. Three years later, he graduated from the Royal Military College near Melbourne.

He returned to Thailand when neighboring nations in Southeast Asia were falling to communist insurgencies and the kingdom was facing its own communist scare.

The prince joined in the anti-communist fight. In 1976, he took part in military operations in northern and northeastern Thailand, where the threat was most entrenched.

In the late 1970s, the prince started a new career, learning how to fly helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, and logged more than 2,000 hours in the cockpit. In 2012, he became a certified flight instructor for pilots training to fly Boeing 737s.

Besides being an avid pilot, the prince oversaw the command of the Royal Guards, a unit whose roots date back to his great, great-grandfather, King Rama IV.

The king has been married three times and has eight children from four women.

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