Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn lights a candle at a sacred ceremony in a file photo. His formal coronation is due to be held in early May. Photo: Facebook
Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn lights a candle at a sacred ceremony in a file photo. Photo: Facebook

A three-day coronation ceremony will be held in early May for Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the Royal Household Bureau announced on Tuesday.

The “new” king – who is 66 and known as Rama X of the Chakri dynasty – will be crowned in an elaborate ceremony to be held from May 4 to 6, it said in a televised announcement.

“It’s a suitable time to hold the coronation in accordance with the tradition and for national celebration and joy of the people,” the Royal Household Bureau said, according to AFP.

The coronation will be held on May 4 with an audience granted to the royal family, privy councillors and members of the Cabinet, it said.

The following day a ceremony will “bestow the royal name” according to traditions governing the monarchy, then on May 6 the king will hold a “grand audience” with members of the public and diplomats at the Grand Palace.

King Vajiralongkorn offered a New Year’s blessing to Thais in a message shown on state television networks last night.

“No matter what types of obstacles, problems, or irregularities occur, if we unite then all of them can definitely be resolved,” he was quoted as saying.

“May you all be in good spirits and morale with bright wisdom so you can serve as a strong and stable force for our country.”

King Rama X has dramatically reorganized palace affairs, as well as bolstering his security detail and granting himself personal stewardship of the multi-billion-dollar crown assets.

The Thai monarchy is one of the world’s richest and shielded from criticism by a royal defamation law which has harsh penalties.

News of the coronation date had been expected for some time. Today’s announcement comes more than two years after the death of Vajiralongkorn’s revered father.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was Rama IX, passed away on October 13 in 2016. Aged 88, he had reigned for 70 years and was greatly respected for his charitable and philanthropic work. His death came after several years of declining health and spurred months of mourning. Millions of Thais dressed in black and prostrated themselves in front of his funeral urn at the Grand Palace, prior to his cremation in Bangkok.

Election due in February

The coronation of Rama X will make 2019 a big year for Thailand.

The country is poised to hold a national election in late February, nearly five years after a military junta seized power from the civilian government led by Yingluck Shinawatra.

The junta is ultra-royalist and portrays itself as the defender of the monarchy. Former army chief General Prayut Chan-ocha, who is now prime minister, says he took power to end corruption and money politics under successive civilian governments.

The military has written a new constitution that experts say dilutes the power of elected governments and embeds its role in politics and policy for the next 20 years.

A fully-appointed senate and a reduction in the number of lower house seats is expected to offset any strong electoral showing by the Shinawatras and their allies.

An announcement on the election date is expected shortly.

– with reporting by AFP