BANGKOK - The remains of King Bhumibol Adulyadej were transferred from the royal crematorium complex to the Grand Palace on Friday (Oct 27) as Thailand continues with an elaborate five-day funeral ceremony.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn sprinkled sacred water on the remains during a solemn ceremony that was televised live. The remains were blessed by the Supreme Patriarch, who is head of the order of Buddhist monks.
King Vajiralongkorn placed bits of the bones of his late father into six golden urns that were later carried in palanquins by a procession to the Grand Palace, where the late king had lain in state since his death last October.
A religious ceremony for the remains will be held on Saturday. On Sunday, his bones will be transferred to the palace hall where the relics of past kings are kept. His ashes will be kept at the temples of Wat Rajabopidh and Wat Bovoranives.
King Vajiralongkorn had presided over a late-night private cremation on Thursday, as mourners outside watched the smoke rising from the crematorium.
Teary-eyed Thais clad in black turned out by the tens of thousands in Bangkok on Thursday for a final send-off for their late king, after a year-long mourning period.
The monarch, who died last year aged 88 and whose reign spanned seven decades, was the only king many of the people had ever known.
In an elaborate procession, columns of soldiers marching with slow, deliberate steps pulled a towering golden chariot down the wide avenue from the Grand Palace to the newly built royal crematorium.
As the chariot passed them, mourners lining the road prostrated themselves in unison, in a final act of reverence to a monarch some hailed as the "king of kings".
Since King Bhumibol died on Oct 13 last year after a long illness, artisans have transformed an open field next to the Grand Palace into a gilded crematorium, complete with spire-roofed pavilions and dotted with sculptures of mythical creatures, to symbolise Mount Meru, the cosmic dwelling of gods.
The cremation ceremony was witnessed by royalty and other dignitaries from around the world.
They included Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Akishino of Japan, US Defence Secretary James Mattis, Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Singapore President Halimah Yacob.
Beyond the crematorium site, thousands more gathered around smaller replicas of the royal crematorium and watched the ceremony on LED screens put up nationwide.
King Bhumibol, who ascended the throne at the age of 18, was seen as a unifying figure in politically turbulent Thailand. His 70-year reign, buoyed by widespread reverence but also protected by a strict lese majeste law, left the throne at the apex of prestige and wealth.
King Vajiralongkorn, 65, promised to continue his father's work when he took the throne last December.
The five-day funeral ceremony ends on Sunday.
Watch the livestream here.