‘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.


No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

Updated 17 July 2019
0

No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

  • Many lawmakers, business community fear dire economic outcome
  • A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit

LONDON: The battle to become Britain's next prime minister enters the home straight on Wednesday with both candidates hardening their positions on Brexit, putting the future government on a collision course with Brussels.
Ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are now both referring to Britain's departure with no overall deal in place as a realistic prospect.
The business community and many lawmakers fear dire economic consequences from a no-deal Brexit, which would lead to immediate trade tariffs for some sectors including the automotive industry.
Johnson and Hunt are taking part in a final question-and-answer session later on Wednesday before the result of the vote by Conservative Party members is announced next Tuesday.
The new party leader will be confirmed as prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II on the following day.
Britain has twice delayed its scheduled departure from the European Union after 46 years of membership as May tried and failed to get her deal with Brussels through parliament.
The two candidates vying to replace her have vowed to scrap a "backstop" provision in the agreement that Brussels insisted upon to keep the Irish border open.
Their latest attacks on the measure during a debate on Monday prompted a plunge in the value of the British pound.
The currency fell again Wednesday to its lowest level against the US dollar in over two years.
"The tougher stance from both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in terms of their rhetoric on Brexit is clearly weighing on the pound," said market analyst Neil Wilson.
"Make no mistake, this decline in the pound is down to traders pricing in a higher chance of a no-deal exit."
The backstop has proved a key stumbling block in the Brexit process.
The measure would keep open the post-Brexit border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member the Republic of Ireland whatever the outcome of negotiations over the future relationship between London and Brussels.
Johnson announced early in his campaign that he would not sign up to it and would pursue a no-deal Brexit if required, leading his opponent to follow suit.
However, European leaders have been adamant that the backstop must remain a part of any divorce deal, raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who will become European Commission president in November, said the draft withdrawal agreement provided "certainty".
She also broached a possible further delay to Britain's departure, saying: "I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason."
Johnson has pledged that under his leadership, Britain will leave "do or die" on the current deadline of October 31.
A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit, but attempts to pass legislation blocking the scenario have failed.
Reports this week suggested Johnson is considering plans to end the current session of parliament in early October, leaving MPs powerless.
Finance Minister Philip Hammond said Wednesday it was "terrifying" that some Brexit supporters thought that no deal would leave Britain better off.
And in a speech in London, May said the "best route" for Britain was to leave with a deal.
Delivering her last major address, she railed against the trend towards "absolutism" in Britain and abroad, and urged her successor to compromise.
"Whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long term, so that delivering Brexit brings our country back together. That has to mean some kind of compromise," she said.