Thailand grieves for its late king — and wonders when its crown prince will take the throne

An afternoon downpour did not deter tens of thousands of black-clad Thais from converging on the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha on Sunday as they continued to mourn the loss of their late king, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

They could have a long time to grieve before Bhumibol’s eldest son and heir, 64-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, becomes king.

In a surprise announcement, Vajiralongkorn said he will remain as crown prince until he has had time to mourn. Just how long that will take is not clear. But it could be as long as a year before Bhumibol is cremated, and there has been speculation that his son will wait until then to take the throne.

In the meantime, 96-year-old Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, a former prime minister and the head of the privy council, a royal body appointed by Bhumibol, will be regent.

The Massachusetts-born king, who died Tuesday at age 88, first sat on the Thai throne when Harry Truman was in the White House. His seven decades in office made him the world’s longest-reigning monarch, during which Thailand, long a U.S. ally, largely avoided the wars and oppression seen in neighbors Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said after meeting the heir to the throne that the crown prince  “asked the people not to be confused or concerned about government affairs, including the royal succession.”

Source link