BANGKOK – As Thailand entered into third of week of mourning the death of its late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, tens of thousands of mourners gathered at Bangkok’s Grand Palace on Saturday (29 October). They are being allowed to enter the throne hall to pay respect before the funeral urn of the deceased king.
This is the first time since his death that Thais have been allowed to see the body of the 88-year-old king lying in a coffin. Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, died on 13 October after reigning for seven decades as a constitutional monarch.
Around 80,000 mourners arrived at the palace on Saturday morning, deputy police spokesman Major General Songpol Wattanachai said. According to Reuters, authorities have decided to allow 10,000 mourners each day to enter the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the palace.
Religious rites are reported to be taking place in the hall every day and seniors from the royal family have been taking turns to attend daily, amid chanting by Buddhist monks.
The bodies of high-ranking Thai royals apparently used to be kept in a golden urn. However, the palace officials are no longer planning to uphold the tradition, Reuters reported. Instead, Adulyadej’s body would be placed in a coffin with the symbolic urn nearby.
Thai government declared one year of mourning for the deceased king, who was formally known as Rama IX. After one year of mourning, the country will prepare for the ritual procession.
“I’m prepared now to go in and pay my respects to our late king because this will be the last time for us to express our sorrow,” Reuters cited a mourner Waewwan Iimsud, as saying as he waited to enter the hall.
Another mourner, an 84-year-old Saman Daoruang said: “I have been waiting here since 1am. I haven’t been able to sleep because I was so thrilled and proud to come here,” BBC quoted.
Many like him were reportedly sleeping in a tent on the grassy grounds near the palace, where for the past two weeks, tens of thousands of Thais amassed outside its compound to pay tribute before a portrait of the late monarch.
Even on Saturday, the mourners were seen holding the portraits of the late king and were dressed in black as sign of respect . Many mourners were also crying as they left the palace.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said last week the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn could become king in seven to 15 days after the king’s death, or later. However, there has been no official announcement yet on when he will ascend the throne officially, although the government has said the prince wanted time to mourn the death of his father.