Thailand crowns king for first time in 69 years

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida paying their respects before the statue of King Rama V at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok yesterday. The monarch's coronation which takes place from tomorrow to Monday will be the first the coun

Later, King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida will perform a private housewarming ritual at the royal residence in the Grand Palace where they will stay the night, as previous kings have done, ending the first of the three-day coronation ceremonies.

On Sunday, there will be a 7-kilometer royal procession involving 343 men, in which the King will again be carried on his palanquin through nearby city streets to visit four important temples and allow the public to pay homage to him.

Onlookers who crowded the sidewalks along Sunday's parade route were nearly all wearing yellow shirts, a colour closely associated with the monarchy.

King Vajiralongkorn, also known as King Rama X, became monarch in October 2016 following the death of his father.

"The current king had a very lively private life, a string of wives, mistresses, one who's living in exile in the USA, the one he most recently divorced in 2014 has been placed more or less under house arrest, her son was taken away from her, most of her family were arrested", Dr Jory said.

On the eve of the coronation, the king also granted royal pardons to approximately 50,000 inmates across the country including prominent student activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa who was accused of defaming the king by sharing a controversial BBC article, according to local news website Khaosod English. The parade was accompanied by cavalry soldiers, a marching military band and royal guards in a variety of ancient Thai and contemporary Western-style uniforms.

The father of seven has previously been married and divorced three times, most recently in 2014.

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The king and queen stayed the previous night in the royal residence, where a Siamese cat and a white rooster were placed on a pillow as part of housewarming rituals meant to bring good tidings.

Early Sunday, the king bestowed royal titles on family members who crawled to his throne as he sat next to his new Queen Suthida.

"I shall reign in righteousness for the benefits of the kingdom and the people forever", he said in his traditional first royal command. Horns and pipes also accompanied the moment when the king was anointed with consecrated water taken from more than a hundred sites across the country. Wat Bowonniwet and Wat Rajabopit store the royal relics of late King Bhumibol. The king also received and wore five articles of the royal regalia from the chief Brahmin, signifying full kingship.

The 66-year-old Vajiralongkorn has served as king since then. The 109-member marching band played tunes composed by the king's father, who was an enthusiastic musician, and a single musician played haunting sounds on a conch shell.

The highlight of Saturday's sombre ceremonies was the King's anointment with holy water, before he placed the 7.3 kilogram (16 lbs) golden tiered crown on his head. Here, the officials and dignitaries pledge their allegiance to king and country.

Hours before polls opened, another palace statement urged the public to vote for "good people" - a phrase most often attached to the arch-royalist political elite.

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