Thais bid farewell to late King ahead of cremation

Thousands of Thais, dressed in mourning colours, lining up to pay their last respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok yesterday. The royal cremation will take place on Oct 26.
Thousands of Thais, dressed in mourning colours, lining up to pay their last respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok yesterday. The royal cremation will take place on Oct 26.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK • Almost 12 million people, or almost one-sixth of Thailand's population, have visited the glittering Grand Palace in Bangkok to pay their respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej since he died last October, the palace said yesterday.

Thousands lined the streets of Bangkok's historic area near the Chao Phraya River to enter the palace yesterday, the last day to see the late King before the royal cremation on Oct 26.

Queues stretched for more than 2km, officials said, with many lining up since Wednesday. Mr Tossapon Thongmak, 33, a Bangkok resident, said: "I've been here since 6pm and I managed to pay my respects only at 7am.

"We were rained on last night but this is a must. We must pay our respects to father," he said, referring to the King.

King Bhumibol died last October at age 88 and his body has lain in state in a gold hall in the palace. He was regarded as the nation's moral compass during decades of on-off political turbulence, including several coups, bloody street protests and a region-wide 1997/98 financial crisis. He was succeeded in December by his only son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has since overseen a shake-up at the palace to give himself greater authority.

The royal funeral will be a mix of Buddhist religious ceremonies and Hindu Brahmin rituals.

The palace has said it expects 250,000 mourners to attend the royal cremation.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Thais bid farewell to late King ahead of cremation'. Print Edition | Subscribe