Majestic tribute to late king

Bangkok's Grand Palace received some rather unusual visitors on Tuesday among the thousands of mourners who had gathered there to pay respects to Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Eleven elephants were brought from the country's ancient capital of Ayutthaya to the palace gates, where the giant beasts and about 200 mahouts knelt in respect for their beloved monarch, who died last month, aged 88, after 70 years on the throne. The keepers also sang the royal anthemin tribute.

"This is the biggest event in my life," said Ayutthaya Elephant Palace owner Laithongrien Meephan, who led the procession.

The animals were dressed to look like white elephants and cloaked in gold and black ceremonial garments. Their handlers also wore black.

In Thailand, the white elephant is regarded as sacred and a symbol of royal power, according to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. In the past, a king's status was evaluated by the number of white elephants in his possession.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'Majestic tribute to late king'. Print Edition | Subscribe