Thais stock up on portraits, T-shirts, flags to welcome new King Rama X

A Thai man looks at a portrait photo of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at a shop along a street in Bangkok on Nov 30, 2016.
A Thai man looks at a portrait photo of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at a shop along a street in Bangkok on Nov 30, 2016.PHOTO: AFP
Thai people look at a portrait photo of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at a shop along a street in Bangkok on Nov 30, 2016.
Thai people look at a portrait photo of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at a shop along a street in Bangkok on Nov 30, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network) - Thais are preparing for the ascesion of their new King Rama X by stocking up on portraits, T-shirts, flags and other symbolic souvenirs.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has "informally" accepted the formal invitation by the Parliament, known as the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), to ascend the throne, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters on Wednesday (Nov 30).

"(The Crown Prince) was known to have already accepted the invitation to become king. Everything has been done in accordance with the established procedures," Mr Prawit said.

Once the Prince formally accepts the invitation, he will be proclaimed King Rama X of the 234-year-old Chakri Dynasty, succeeding his father, late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who ruled for 70 years and passed away at the age of 88 last month.

Many school representatives from the provinces headed to the capital on Wednesday to buy portraits of the Crown Prince as well as flags with his emblem. They are preparing decorations to celebrate the new King's succession.

It is a tradition in Thai households, private offices and government agencies to display portraits of the monarch.

"I've come here (Bangkok) to buy a portrait of HRH the Crown Prince to be placed in my school as a gesture of welcome to the new monarch," said Mr Chaikit Wutthivaree, 34, an employee of Panjawittaya Technical Training School in Pathum Thani province.

He bought and transported an 80cm by 120cm royal portrait back to the school by tuk-tuk.

Dozens of shops located near Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Temple, which have sold royal photographs and flags with royal emblems for decades, are selling increasing numbers of pictures of the Crown Prince.

However, photo wholesellers are still waiting for an official announcement of the new King's emblem and the unveiling of the official portrait. Once that is known, manufacturing volumes will be increased to meet expected demand.

"Right now, we just sell the Crown Prince's file photographs available in printing houses. We are monitoring news and updates closely regarding the official portrait and the new King's emblem," said Mr Kanyanee Bawornbenjaphan, 60, an owner of a well-known royal photograph and flag shop.

The price of the Crown Prince's portraits range from 30 baht (S$1.20) to 9,000 baht, depending on the size and quality.

Meanwhile, Bangkok's schools and state organisations are waiting for an official announcement from the government before decorating their buildings to welcome the new King.

"We are getting prepared and are waiting for the Education Ministry's instructions regarding the decoration to welcome the new King," said Mr Tossaporn Sangtitanu, the newly appointed director of Wat Saket School, a boys-only secondary school in Bangkok."It's our honour to praise our new King. As we are Thais, we do love and revere the new monarch and the royal institution," he said.

According to a source at the Education Ministry, the ministry and other government bodies are waiting for an announcement and orders from the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the PM's Office regarding proper welcoming practices.

Besides photographs and flags, clothes with logos and messages to welcome the new King are also being stocked to meet the expected high demand.

"We have prepared thousands of white and yellow T-shirts," said Mr Anona Visaraton, the owner of a popular T-shirt wholeseller at Bo Bae market whose customers are mostly retailers in the provinces.

The owner said on Tuesday that when the NLA acknowledged the accession of the Crown Prince, more than 5,000 white T-shirts were ordered following rumours that the government had called on all people to dress in white or grey.

The owner said that although Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam later denied the rumour, the demand for white and yellow - the colours symbolising the Crown Prince's birthday - T-shirts was growing.