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King Maha Vajiralongkorn

New era for Thai monarchy as crown prince proclaimed King Rama X

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 10:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 December, 2016, 1:03pm

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was proclaimed king of Thailand late Thursday, in a statement read on all television channels, ascending the throne 50 days after his father’s death.

“I agree to accept the wishes of the late king ... for the benefit of the entire Thai people,” he said, after being invited to take the throne by the head of junta-appointed parliament.

Vajiralongkorn, 64, who inherits one of the world’s richest monarchies as well as a politically troubled nation, ascends the throne 50 days after King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death.

The new monarch, received the title “His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun”.

He will be named Rama X of Thailand’s Chakri dynasty, but will not formally be crowned until after his father’s cremation, which is expected next year.

Bhumibol’s reign, which ended on October 13, spanned seven turmoil-laden decades, pockmarked by a communist insurgency, coups and street protests.

To many Thais Bhumibol was the only consistent force in a politically combustible country, his image burnished by ritual and shielded by a harsh royal defamation law.

Vajiralongkorn, who has been named successor for more than four decades, does not yet enjoy the same level of popularity.

He spends much of his time outside of the public eye, particularly in southern Germany where he owns property.

Thursday’s ascension ends a period of uncertainty which followed a shock junta announcement after Bhumibol’s death that the prince had asked to delay his official proclamation so he could mourn.

Thailand’s constitutional monarchy has limited formal powers.

But it draws the loyalty of much of the kingdom’s super-rich business elite as well as a military that dominates politics through its regular coups.

It is also protected from criticism by one of the world’s harshest lese majeste laws, carrying up to 15 years in jail for every charge of defaming the king, queen, heir or regent.

That law makes open discussion about the royal family’s role all but impossible inside the kingdom and means all media based inside the country routinely self-censor.

Additional reporting by Associated Press