‘I shall reign with righteousness’: Thailand crowns king in ornate ceremonies

1 / 10
In this image made from video, Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn is transported on the royal palanquin by royal bearers during his visit to the Temple of the Emerald Buddhism, Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Thai TV/AP)
2 / 10
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn attends his crowning ceremony in Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, May 4, 2019 in this still image taken from TV footage. (Thai TV/Reuters)
3 / 10
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida attend his coronation in Bangkok, Thailand, May 4, 2019 in this still image taken from TV footage. (Thai TV/Reuters)
4 / 10
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is crowned during his coronation in Bangkok, Thailand, May 4, 2019 in this still image taken from TV footage. (Thai TV/Reuters)
5 / 10
This screengrab from Thai TV Pool video taken on May 4, 2019 shows Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn (L) attending the royal purification ceremony during his coronation in Bangkok. (AFP/Thai TV)
6 / 10
This screengrab from Thai TV Pool video taken on May 3, 2019 shows Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn (front L) hugging his sister Princess Ubolratana as members of the royal family look on during a ceremony in the Grand Palace in Bangkok, ahead of his royal coronation. (AFP/Thai TV)
7 / 10
Royal Guards fire cannons in honour of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP)
8 / 10
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is crowned during his coronation in Bangkok, Thailand, May 4, 2019 in this still image taken from TV footage. (Thai TV/Reuters)
9 / 10
In this image made from video, Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn lights candle as he visits the throne hall at the Grand Palace Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Thai TV/AP)
10 / 10
In this image made from video, Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn sits on the throne in front of Queen Suthida as he is officially crowned king at the Grand Palace, Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Thai TV/AP)
Updated 04 May 2019
0

‘I shall reign with righteousness’: Thailand crowns king in ornate ceremonies

  • King Vajiralongkorn crowned after purification
  • Coronation is the first in nearly 70 years in Thailand

BANGKOK: Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Saturday completed Buddhist and Brahmin rituals to symbolically transform him into a living god as the Southeast Asian nation crowned its first monarch in nearly seven decades.
The coronation of King Vajiralongkorn, 66, took place inside the Grand Palace throne hall in Bangkok after a period of official mourning for his revered father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October 2016 having reigned for 70 years.
The king sat on a golden throne under a nine-tiered umbrella to receive royal regalia including a gold-enameled, diamond-tipped crown in ceremonies that mixed glittering pomp with solemn religious rites.
The monarch was joined by new Queen Suthida after a surprise announcement three days before the coronation that the thrice-divorced monarch had married for a fourth time.
His coronation comes amid the uncertainty of an unresolved election battle between the current military junta chief and a “democratic front” trying to push the army out of politics.
“I shall continue, preserve, and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the people forever,” the king said in his first royal command.


Traditionally uttered after a king is crowned, the king’s first command serves to capture the essence of his reign. The king’s command was similar to that of his father’s.
Late in the afternoon, the king was carried in a royal palanquin in a procession from the Grand Palace to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where yellow-clad Thais awaited his arrival, repeatedly chanting, “Long live the king.”
After 80 Buddhist monks chanted, the king proclaimed himself the Royal Patron of Buddhism: “I will rightfully protect Buddhism forever.”
Later, King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida will perform a private housewarming ritual at the royal residence in the Grand Palace where they will stay the night, as previous kings have done, ending the first of the three-day coronation ceremonies.
In his first speech earlier on Saturday to members of the royal family, the Privy Council, and top government officials, among others, the king called for national unity.
“I invite everyone here and all Thai people to share my determination and work together, each according to his status and duty, with the nation’s prosperity and the people’s happiness as the ultimate goals,” he said.
Military junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, the speaker of the army-appointed parliament and the chairman of the Supreme Court — representing the three branches of government — also spoke to express “gratitude” to the king.
Prayuth is seeking to stay on as an elected prime minister after the first elections since the military seized power five years ago. Final results of the March 24 vote will be announced after the coronation.
Thai coronation rituals are a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu Brahmin traditions dating back centuries. One of the many official titles King Vajiralongkorn will take is Rama X, or the 10th king of the Chakri dynasty founded in 1782.
Saturday’s rituals were about transforming him into a “Devaraja,” or a divine embodiment of the gods.
The king received the royal golden plaque containing his name and title, the royal horoscope, and the royal seal, which were made in a three-hour ritual last week.
He also received and put on five articles of the royal regalia from the chief Brahmin.
The high-reaching crown, which weighs 7.3 kg (16 lb) symbolizes the summit of Mount Meru, the Hindu god Indra’s heavenly abode, and its weight represents the monarch’s royal burden.
King Vajiralongkorn put the crown on his head himself with the help of court officials, and adjusted it several times during the ceremony.
Before the crowning ritual, he appeared dressed in white robes as he underwent a purification ritual, sitting under a canopied fountain that poured consecrated waters over his head.
The country’s Buddhist Supreme Patriarch also poured sacred waters over the king, followed by Brahmin priests and royal family members. During the ceremonies, the king gave alms to saffron-robed, barefoot monks.
The monarch also granted Queen Suthida, a former Thai Airways flight attendant and head of his personal bodyguard regiment, her full royal title.
Outside the palace walls, people in yellow polo shirts sat on roadsides, holding up portraits of the king and the national flag as 19th-century cannons fired to announce the new reign.
Yellow is the color of Monday, the day the king was born, and the color of the sun, which represents the monarch in the cosmos, according to Thai culture.
One onlooker, Kanjana Malaithong, told local media she had traveled since 1 a.m. from northern Thailand to witness the ceremony, shown live on big screens outside the palace.
“I’m so overjoyed ... There’ll never be another chance like this, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said.
During 18 months of his reign so far, King Vajiralongkorn has moved to consolidate the authority of the monarchy, including taking more direct control of the crown’s vast wealth with the help of Thailand’s military government.
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.


Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

Updated 16 July 2019
0

Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

  • Iceland spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the Philippines' deadly anti-drug crackdown
  • Philippine police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016.

MANILA: The Philippine president is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.”
Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte “is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland” for initiating the “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” resolution.
Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Philippines’ highest-ranking lawmaker said on Monday a UN resolution to probe the country’s bloody war on drugs should be ignored, and its chief backer Iceland be investigated instead for human rights abuses in allowing abortion.
“They have more unborn babies that they have aborted or killed. There are more killings in abortion than the drug pushers who are fighting the police,” Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel.
The Nordic nation lacks moral grounds to lecture the Philippines on human rights, Sotto said. “So we should disregard that resolution.”
His remarks are the latest in a series of comments from lawmakers urging the government to not cooperate after the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted Iceland’s resolution to investigate thousands of deaths under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Critics and rights group said authorities summarily execute suspects, which the police deny.
“The criminals can fight back, the babies cannot. What human rights are they talking about?” Sotto said, adding that drug dealers that fight back and destroy families lose their human rights.
His comments about abortion echoed those made by incoming Senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rights groups, which hailed the UN vote as a step toward accountability, point out that the bloody anti-narcotics campaign is marked by systematic cover-ups, planted evidence and impunity.
The president’s spokesman on Monday warned countries not to meddle with the state’s affairs.
“All incidents in the war on drugs are tallied, recorded. All they have to do is ask us, not to pre-judge us,” presidential spokesman Spokesman Panelo told a regular news conference. “It behoves them to render respect to a sovereign state.”
Duterte on Friday mocked Iceland as an ice-eating nation without understanding of his country’s problems.