Prince Vajiralongkorn Crowned King Rama X
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn was proclaimed the new monarch of Thailand on today, the step before he fully succeeds his father King Bhumibol, who died seven weeks ago at 88. Ending nearly two months of royal interregnum, an interim parliament completed a key part in naming him the 10th King of his dynasty, six days before a public holiday commemorating the birth of his late father, who was widely revered as a national father figure. His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn, 64, has been the designated heir since 1972. The announcement was made, per the constitution, at about 11:20am by the National Legislative Assembly, an interim parliament serving as a rubber-stamp legislature under the military junta. Assembly chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholchai told the lawmakers the Crown Prince will take the throne.
“My dear fellow members” Pornpetch said in a speech to the lawmakers. “Upon this most auspicious occasion, I would like to ask all members to stand up and offer praise to the new king.” The presenting members then stood up and shouted in unison, “Long live the king!” Thais will generally call him Rama X, or the 10th king of Chakri dynasty. One more formality is left to complete the royal succession, namely, the assembly chairman Pornpetch will meet the new king in person and formally invite him to take throne. The Crown Prince is expected to accept the ceremonial invitation. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said earlier Tuesday that the meeting may take place in the next couple days. But he is already praised as the de facto new King of Thailand. All major Thai-language news agencies broke the news with the headline “Long Live the King” and referred to him as King Rama X. Hashtag “Long Live the King” is also trending on Twitter.
King Vajiralongkorn’s ascension to his kingship had been a subject of intense anticipation by many. The then-Crown Prince surprised the nation when he declined to take the throne immediately upon King Rama IX’s death on the 13th October, breaking with a royal tradition of Le roi est mort, vive le roi. The prince said at the time that he needed time to grieve for his late father, according to junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha, who met with His Royal Highness on the night of his fathers passing. In the subsequent weeks, Thailand went through a historic period of prolonged interregnum, and a Regent was appointed by constitution as a caretaker over the empty throne.
As a king, His Majesty the King Vajiralongkorn will exercise his royal power as a constitutional monarch to sign legislation, hear oaths from newly appointed civil servants and represent Thailand as head of state. He will be the sovereign of Thailand’s government, justice system, bureaucracy and armed forces. But King Vajiralongkorn will refrain from assuming the totality of royal functions as a monarch of the Chakri Dynasty until his official coronation, an elaborate religious ceremony that will take place after the cremation of his late father, likely some time late next year. His first official duty as the new King will be presiding over state ceremonies on the 5th December, which had been celebrated as both National Day, Father’s Day and the birthday of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol.