Mourners flock to Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road to pay last respects to Thai King

Mourners pay their respect to the late Thai king at the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road on Oct 26, 2017.
Mourners pay their respect to the late Thai king at the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road on Oct 26, 2017.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Mourners pay their respect to the late Thai king at the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road on Oct 26, 2017.
Mourners pay their respect to the late Thai king at the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road on Oct 26, 2017.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Mourners pay their respect to the late Thai king at the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road on Oct 26, 2017.
Mourners pay their respect to the late Thai king at the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road on Oct 26, 2017.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Hundreds of mourners have visited the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard Road since Thursday morning (Oct 26) to mark the death of the Thai King.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Oct 13 last year, aged 88. His body has lain in state in the Thai capital's Grand Palace since his death. It will be cremated on Thursday evening.

About 3,000 to 4,000 people are expected to visit the Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore from 10am till midnight.

Dressed in black, the mourners at the embassy in Singapore placed sandalwood flowers in front of a portrait of the late King. The flowers are traditionally used in cremation ceremonies in Thailand.

Although the embassy was supposed to open at 10am, ithad to bring the opening time forward to 9.30am because queues had already formed outside the gates.

Throughout the day, live broadcasts of the proceedings in Bangkok are being screened at the embassy here. The cremation ceremony later in the evening will also be broadcast live at the embassy.

When The Straits Times visited the embassy at noon, there were a few hundred people paying their respects.

About 300 volunteers helped out at the embassy, ushering people into rows to pay their respects and giving food and drinks to the mourners.

One of the volunteers was 21-year-old embassy intern Kawita Ponsree. "I felt so sad because he's like a father to the Thai people," she said. "I chose to help out because as a Thai, I want to be part of the event and help my people."

She recalled driving to dinner with her friend on the day the King died. "We heard the news on the radio and we cried all the way to our dinner place. The King means a lot to the Thai people. He wanted to improve living conditions for us."

Another mourner, 39-year-old housewife Panadda Charoensuk said she took her Singaporean husband to the palace in Bangkok last year when the King died.

 

"I wanted him to understand what this whole event means to us," she said tearfully. "This is our last chance to be close to someone who has done so much for us." She had been watching the proceedings online, and went to the embassy to pay her respects.

Thai Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Thongchai Chasawath, said: "The King is more than a monarch to the Thais. He made a great contribution to the social and economic development of the country. It was a long reign and we respect him a lot. This cremation is really the last day for us to remember his love for the people."