Thailand prepares to bid farewell to 'the people's king'

21 PHOTOS
Saying goodbye to Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej
See Gallery
Saying goodbye to Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej
An artist works on a deity sculpture which will decorate the funeral pyre of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Workers move deity sculptures which will be used in the Royal Crematorium for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand, September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Well-wishers line up to pay respect to the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Workers work inside the Royal Crematorium for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand, September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An aerial view shows the Royal Crematorium site for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand, October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Well-wishers pay their respect during a funeral rehearsal for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej near the Grand Palace in Bangkok in Bangkok, Thailand, October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Well-wishers pay their respect to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Grand Palace on the last day the authorities allow people to pay their respect, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Deity sculptures which will be used at the Royal Crematorium for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej are seen in Bangkok, Thailand, September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The moon rises as well-wishers line up to pay respect to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the last day when the authorities allow people to pay their respect in the throne hall in Bangkok, Thailand, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Well-wishers line up to pay respect to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Traditional dancers stand next to the Great Victory Royal Chariot that will carry the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's body in a giant ornate urn to the cremation site, in Bangkok, Thailand, September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Army officers take part in a funeral rehearsal for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand, September 28, 2017 REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The Royal Crematorium for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is seen in Bangkok, Thailand, September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A portrait of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is see on the building of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Visitors take pictures in front of a painted wall inside the Royal Crematorium for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand, September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An artist works on a deity sculpture which will decorate the funeral pyre of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A layout of the Royal Crematorium for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is seen at fine arts department of Silpakorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Deity sculptures which will be used in the Royal Crematorium for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej are seen at fine arts department of Silpakorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha SEARCH "THAI CREMATORIUM" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Thai classical dancers perform during a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the royal crematorium for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in Bangkok, Thailand, February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Thai classical dancers prepare for a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the royal crematorium for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in Bangkok, Thailand, February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

BANGKOK, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Thailand is putting the finishing touches this month to a lavish five-day funeral ceremony in a final goodbye to its late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who helped shape the Southeast Asian nation for decades after World War Two.

Many of the hundreds of thousands of black-clad mourners are expected to camp for days near Bangkok's Grand Palace to capture a good view of the ceremonies, which will be guarded by 78,000 police officers and culminate in the cremation on Oct. 26.

"October is a sad period," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who announced plans for a national election next year, told reporters in the capital on Tuesday. "I ask that politicians and political parties be peaceful and orderly."

Artisans have worked for ten months in Bangkok's ancient quarter to build an elaborate cremation site fashioned after a vision of heaven, where Thais believe dead royals return to live above Mount Meru, a golden mountain in Hindu mythology.

The funeral of King Bhumibol, who died on Oct. 13 last year after seven decades on the throne, is also a time of uncertainty for some Thais, said a Thailand-based analyst, who declined to be identified because of sensitivities around the monarchy.

"In many ways the king was Thailand and his death has left a huge vacuum in the Thai psyche," said the analyst, pointing to social and political upheavals in recent decades.

"What happens after his funeral? Where will Thailand head next? These are profound questions that must be answered."

 

ANCIENT TRADITIONS

The late king was succeeded by his son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, or Rama X, who has overseen sweeping changes to the royal household, including the running of palace finances.

Though steeped in ancient traditions, the funeral of King Bhumibol will permit more public participation than those of previous kings, said Thai monarchy expert Tongthong Chandransu.

"A strong bond has been formed between the people and the monarchy – the strongest compared to past reigns," Tongthong told Reuters. "So we can see more people participation in the royal funeral of this king."

Among the many royal objects restored for the funeral is a golden chariot that will carry the king's body in a giant ornate urn to the cremation site.

The urn will move to the Royal Crematorium before the cremation on the night of Oct. 26, which has been declared a national holiday.

More than 3,000 performers will join in a nightlong final tribute of music and puppet shows to end a year of mourning.

Thais devoted to the memory of the king have folded paper flowers for his cremation, making 10 million in Bangkok alone, city authorities said.

"This is our 'Mandela', or our 'Princess Diana', moment," said graphic designer and self-proclaimed royalist Apichai Klapiput.

"What the world will see is rivers of tears that show how much Thais love King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was the people's king." (Additional reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.