BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand will begin building the funeral pyre for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last month at the age of 88, next year, the government said on Monday (Nov 21), adding that 8,000 people will be involved in the cremation ceremony.
The King, the world's longest reigning monarch, ruled for seven decades and was seen by many Thais as a stabilising force through an era of rapid change and social upheaval in the country.
Daily Buddhist funeral rites have been held for the King at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, but a royal cremation will not take place for at least another year.
Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn said a committee had been set up to oversee construction of the King's cremation pyre in a public square in front of the palace. "(The) building is expected to be completed before September 2017, but it depends on the weather," General Thanasak told reporters, adding that up to 8,000 people will take part in the cremation ceremony.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha has made clear that the King's only son and designated heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, will inherit the throne, though there is still no date for when he will officially succeed his father.