Thai King pays homage to ancestors ahead of coronation

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida paying their respects before the statue of King Rama V at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok yesterday. The monarch's coronation, which takes place from tomorrow to Monday, will be the first the country h
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida paying their respects before the statue of King Rama V at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok yesterday. The monarch's coronation, which takes place from tomorrow to Monday, will be the first the country has seen in 69 years.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK • Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn paid homage to his ancestors yesterday as part of preparations for his elaborate coronation ceremonies this weekend.

Queen Suthida, the former deputy head of the king's royal bodyguard, made her first official public appearance as his new wife. She was seen kneeling alongside the king as they paid their respects before statues of previous Chakri dynasty monarchs in Bangkok's historic quarter.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, paid his respects to his forefathers in front of statues of King Chulalongkorn, or King Rama V, a venerated 19th-century moderniser, and King Rama I, who founded the Chakri dynasty in the late 18th century.

The coronation, which takes place from tomorrow to Monday, will be the first the country has seen in 69 years, since his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was crowned in 1950.

The palace announced late on Wednesday that the king, also known by the title of King Rama X, had married his long-time consort, General Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya, and named her queen.

Photos of Queen Suthida, a 40-year-old former Thai Airways flight attendant, prostrating in respect to her husband at their wedding ceremony at Dusit Palace were widely used on newspaper front pages yesterday.

During this weekend's coronation, the king is likely to bestow new royal titles on his new bride. It is a tradition for a new monarch to grant new titles to family members.

The government has released a detailed schedule of the three-day coronation, but it remains unclear what role Queen Suthida will play.

Harsh lese-majeste laws mean unguarded discussion about the monarchy inside Thailand is virtually impossible, and the kingdom's normally bubbly social media was subdued in reaction to the news of the nuptials.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2019, with the headline 'Thai King pays homage to ancestors ahead of coronation'. Print Edition | Subscribe