Newly crowned Thai king hopes for unity, prosperity

A Thai woman displays a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn as she sits on a side road, anticipating access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall where King Vajiralongkorn is scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet an audience from the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the King's coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A wellwisher holds a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn during his speech from a balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
A Thai well-wisher holds the portraits of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. Newly crowned King Vajiralongkorn made a spectacular public appearance in front of his countrymen Sunday, carried atop a golden palanquin by soldiers in ancient fighting uniforms in a procession through Bangkok's historic quarter.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai well-wishers hold the portraits of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. Thailand's newly crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn made a spectacular public appearance in front of his countrymen Sunday, carried atop a golden palanquin by soldiers in ancient fighting uniforms in a procession through Bangkok's historic quarter.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Wellwishers cheer Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn during his speech from a balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet an audience from the balcony of the Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the King's coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Rapeephat Sitichailapa)
Thai well-wishers hold the portraits of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in front of balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall which Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn grants a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets an audience from the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
People sit on a side road, anticipating access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall where Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A first aid worker sprays water to comfort soldiers in ceremonial attire as they wait for a public address from Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
People sit behind metal detectors anticipating to gain access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall where Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
People display portraits of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn as they sit on a side road, anticipating access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall where Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Wellwishers cheer Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn during his speech from a balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Thai people sit on a side-road, anticipating access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall, in which Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago.(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Wellwishers cheer Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn during his speech from a balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
A Thai woman displays a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn as she sits on a side-road, anticipating access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall, in which Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago.(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Thai well-wishers hold the portraits of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. Newly crowned King Vajiralongkorn made a spectacular public appearance in front of his countrymen Sunday, carried atop a golden palanquin by soldiers in ancient fighting uniforms in a procession through Bangkok's historic quarter.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A Thai man with amulets and a sticker with a tag number related to security clearance around his neck sits on a side oad, anticipating access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall where Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A first aid worker sprays water to comfort soldiers in ceremonial attire as they wait for Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn public speech in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Thai people sit on a side-road, anticipating access to Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall, in which Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn scheduled to grant a public audience in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 6, 2019. King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago.(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida are seen through waving national flags as they greet an audience from a balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the King's coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida wave to an audience from the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida are seen through waving flags as they greet an audience from a balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the King's coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned amid the splendor of the country's Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

BANGKOK — Thailand's newly crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn told thousands of cheering people gathered outside Bangkok's Grand Palace on Monday that he was grateful for their good wishes and believed they were a sign everyone would work together for the country's prosperity.

Vajiralongkorn became king after the 2016 death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for seven decades, but it wasn't until his formal coronation on Saturday that he became a monarch with full regal powers based on the nation's traditions.

Thailand has had a constitutional monarchy since 1932, when a revolution ended absolute rule by kings. The country's monarchs are still regarded as almost divine and seen as a unifying presence in a country that has suffered regular political instability as it rotates between elected governments and military rule.

The king and other top members of the royal family are protected by one of the world's strictest lese majeste laws, which makes criticism punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

People began lining up early Monday so they could be near the balcony where the king was to appear. Large video screens were placed nearby so those unable to make their way to the front could watch. As the crowd waited in the blazing tropical heat, some broke into cheers whenever a passing cloud blocked the sun.

"I'm glad to be born as a Thai," said Tipparat Aiyawan, who works in Bangkok. "I want every child to know that Thailand has had independence for centuries and has survived because our kings are the soul of our nation."

Vajiralongkorn, arriving late, was greeted inside the royal throne hall by dignitaries from business and religious circles.

When he and his wife, Queen Suthida, a general in the palace guard whom he married just last Wednesday, stepped outside onto the balcony, a mighty cheer erupted from the crowd, most dressed in yellow, the color representing the monarch's birthday. Nearby, artillery was fired in salute.

For about two minutes the king stood with the queen, raising his right hand in greeting before sitting down.

Below the balcony, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha read a short speech pledging loyalty to the monarch.

The king stood up, stepped in front of a microphone and read from some papers. He said he and his queen were delighted with the goodwill extended by the people, and their good wishes left him "moved."

"May your unity in extending good wishes to me on this occasion become a good sign that everyone and every party will work for the prosperity of our nation," he said.

The king's 14-year-old son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, and two daughters from previous marriages then stepped forward to join them on the balcony and wave to the crowd. Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, a fashion designer who is the younger of the king's daughters, took photos with her cellphone and waved enthusiastically.

The king and queen then departed for a quick audience with foreign diplomats.

Vajiralongkorn is also known as King Rama X because he is the tenth king in the Chakri dynasty, which began in 1782. His coronation has involved a series of elaborate, centuries-old rituals rooted in Buddhist and Brahmanic traditions.

A final coronation celebration is planned for October, when there will be a royal barge procession on Bangkok's Chao Phraya River.

___

Associated Press journalists Gemunu Amarasinghe, Tassanee Vejpongsa and Preeyapa T. Khunsong contributed to this report.

Must Read

Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

Feb 20, 2017

The U.S. Navy is planning a fresh freedom of navigation operation around China's man-made islands,...

Thai police question dismissed senior royal palace aide

Mar 2, 2017

A former high-ranking police officer dismissed from a position in Thailand's royal palace was...

Thai law enforcement seeks defrocking of Buddhist monk

Mar 10, 2017

Religious and law enforcement authorities appealed to Thailand's ecclesiastical supervisory board...

Thailand's coin-eating turtle unconscious after 2nd surgery

Mar 21, 2017

A Thai veterinarian says a 25-year-old sea turtle has slipped into a coma two weeks after it had...

Thailand's ex-tourism chief gets 50 years for taking bribes

Mar 29, 2017

The former head of Thailand's tourism promotion board has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for...

About Us

Thailand Tribunal is the country’s next generation of digital news portal, bringing you non-stop news on the happenings in the country and all over the world.

Contact us: sales[at]thailandtribunal.com