Thai King performs final rituals before his coronation

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to pay respects to one of Thailand's most sacred Buddhist relics.
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to pay respects to one of Thailand's most sacred Buddhist relics.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Grand ceremonies will take place over 3 days, and some prisoners to receive royal pardons

BANGKOK • Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn conducted final rituals yesterday in preparation for three days of ceremonies for his elaborate coronation, which will also be marked by the pardoning and release from jail of some prisoners.

The coronation, which takes place from today 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.

King Vajiralongkorn, 66, is also known by the title of King Rama X.

He became a constitutional monarch after the death of his revered father in October 2016.

The King yesterday visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to pay respects to one of Thailand's most sacred Buddhist relics.

"Long live the King," chanted a group of people dressed in yellow, an auspicious colour in Thailand, as the King and his new Queen walked on a red carpet to the Grand Palace, shielded from the hot afternoon sun by a big yellow umbrella.

The King lit auspicious candles at 4.19pm Bangkok time, a time that court astrologers determined was propitious, as 80 Buddhist monks chanted.

Yellow is particularly significant as it is the colour of Monday in Thai culture, which is steeped in astrology. It is the day the King was born.

Yellow is also the colour of the sun, which represents the monarch in the cosmos.

Thais have been urged to wear yellow until the end of July, the King's birth month.

Earlier yesterday, a senior palace official transferred a golden plaque inscribed with the King's official name and title, his horoscope and the royal seal from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to the Grand Palace in preparation for today's events.

The three items, which were made in a three-hour ritual last week, will be presented to the King by the chief Brahmin, along with five royal regalia, the symbols of kingship in Thailand.

Ahead of the grand ceremonies, the King granted royal pardons to thousands of prisoners, according to Thai media.

The move would "give them a chance to become good citizens", according to the Royal Gazette.

The order, which will take effect today, listed many criteria of prisoners eligible for the pardon, including those with disabilities, chronic or terminal diseases, or those within a year of completing their sentence.

The King will also reduce sentences for some prisoners, including those imprisoned for life, and commute some death sentences to life.

The Department of Corrections said it would finalise a list of eligible prisoners, and release them or commute their sentences within 120 days.

The order did not exclude foreigners, nor did it exclude prisoners convicted of insulting the monarchy, a crime known as lese-majeste, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.


President Halimah congratulates King, invites him to S'pore

President Halimah Yacob has sent a congratulatory letter to Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn on his coronation today.

President Halimah said she is confident that Thais "will continue to see development and abundance in the years ahead under Your Majesty's reign".

"Singapore and Thailand share a close and longstanding friendship," she said in her letter that was released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

"I look forward to the further strengthening and deepening of the warm ties between our two countries under Your Majesty's reign."

President Halimah said a bronze elephant statue stands in front of Singapore's Old Parliament House, a gift to Singapore by King Chulalongkorn to commemorate his visit to Singapore in March 1871, which was the first stop in his inaugural overseas visit.

The statue, she said, "remains a key symbol of the enduring friendship between our two countries".

"I have therefore commissioned a painting of the statue as a gift for Your Majesty in celebration of the momentous occasion of Your Majesty's Coronation," she said.

The President also extended an invitation to King Vajiralongkorn to visit Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'Thai King performs final rituals before his coronation'. Print Edition | Subscribe