Thailand's New King in Royal Procession around Bangkok

Thailand's New King in Royal Procession around Bangkok

His Majesty completed the ceremony after he was presented with the royal regalia which symbolise the kingship of a monarch who completes the coronation rite.

"Every party is to unify your duties for the prosperity of our country", the monarch said, flanked by members of the Royal Family.

Traditionally uttered after a king is crowned, the king's first royal command serves to capture the essence of his reign.

Criticism of the royal family in Thailand is guarded by harsh lese majeste rules that carry up to 15 years in prison.

Live television coverage showed some glimpses of informality: Queen Suthida exchanging a brief aside with King Vajiralongkorn and two of his daughters in a warm hug after the second one returned from receiving her new title.

It ends with a 7-kilometre (4.3-mile) royal procession involving 343 men, some of them carrying the king through old Bangkok in an ornately decorated palanquin, allowing Thais to pay homage to their new king. The king, like his predecessors, made the short journey to vow to defend the Buddhist faith, the religion of more than 90% of Thailand's people.

Thailand has crowned its new King Maha Vajiralongkorn, marking the first ascension of a new monarch in seven decades.

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Since taking the throne, King Vajiralongkorn has tightened control over royal institutions and acted to increase his influence.

As the waters started pouring, ancient cannons from the 19th century, used specifically for the coronation, started firing 10 volleys each.

"I will be here to save a spot at 5 am", Kanha Kitvej, 80, told AFP the day before, as she watched soldiers march by the royal palace.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida wave to an audience from the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. Holy water was then poured onto his hands from 22 different vessels, all belonging to the previous nine Thai kings of the Chakri dynasty, as well as from conch shells, which are considered to be sacred.

During the ceremonies, the king gave alms to saffron-robed, barefoot monks. The king, 66, wore heavy, gold-embroidered vestments and a soft, wide-brimmed hat. He will then visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to announce he is the royal defender of Buddhism, and close the day with a symbolic palace housewarming.

Thailand ended absolute rule by its kings in 1932, but the monarchy remains highly revered as the divine symbol and protector of the country and Buddhist religion.

Rice farmer Tin Chamnansue, 62, travelled overnight with her sister from northern Sukhothai province to camp out on a lawn outside Bangkok's Grand Palace.