No word on when new king will take his place

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will succeed his father, Thailand's junta chief said on October 13, 2016, following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej after a long battle with ill health.
PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - When exactly Thai- land's heir apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, will formally accede to the throne remained unclear yesterday, compounded by online media reports about the appointment of a Regent which were taken off the Internet soon after they appeared.

There was no government confirmation of the reports quoting Mr Peerasak Porjit, vice-president of the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly, saying General Prem Tinsulanonda, president of the Privy Council, would act as Regent until the Crown Prince formally took the title.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who as army chief had seized power in a coup in 2014, announced that the Crown Prince had asked for more time to mourn his father before being officially proclaimed king.

Under Thailand's succession laws, Gen Prem would by default act as Regent.

Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, soon to be King

  • With his father elevated to semidivine status, Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will have a huge challenge not just to fill the shoes of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, but to define himself as the new monarch.
  • Tall and with a soldier's posture, the Crown Prince, 64, was schooled in England and attended Australia's Royal Military College at Duntroon, in Canberra.
  • He was invested as Crown Prince in 1972 by King Bhumibol.
  • The heir apparent took up his duties after returning to Thailand, serving in the Royal Thai Armed Forces and making frequent tours around the country, while representing his father at official events and ceremonies.
  • He reportedly led counterinsurgency campaigns against communists in Thailand in the 1970s.
  • He is also a qualified fighter pilot and regularly flies big jets.
  • As the Crown Prince, he had six battalions of elite troops under his command.
  • Among other things, he established hospitals in remote areas; by 1997, Crown Prince Hospitals had been set up in 21 locations.
  • The Crown Prince has been married three times. His first wife was first cousin Soamsavali Kitiyakara. The couple married in 1977 and have a daughter but they divorced in 1993.
  • He married a second time, to actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth, with whom he has five children.
  • In February 2001, the Crown Prince married, for a third time, to Ms Srirasmi Akharaphongpreecha.
  • The marriage was announced only in 2005, and she was given the royal title Mom Srirasmi Mahidol na Ayudhya by the King.
  • A few months later, the couple's son Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, now 11, was born.
  • In November 2014, senior police officials related to Ms Srirasmi were found to have allegedly used their connections with the palace to extort and amass vast wealth, and her family was stripped of the royally bestowed surname. The couple divorced.
  • Occasionally, European newspapers have featured rare pictures of him in Europe, where he reportedly spends much time, specifically in Germany.
  • But in more recent years, as his father grew frail, the Crown Prince took over many more ceremonial duties including accepting the credentials of foreign ambassadors.
  • Lately, he has been taking on a higher public profile. He led bicycle rallies in Bangkok separately for the King and Queen in August and December last year.

The 96-year-old is one of the most powerful men in Thailand, described by Paul Handley, author of the 2006 book The King Never Smiles, as the dead monarch's closest ally.

A cavalry officer who has served as appointed premier, Gen Prem, like King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is musically inclined, singing and playing the piano at concerts thronged by Bangkok's high society.

He has been a mentor to generations of the army's elite.

In an oft-cited speech in 2006, he pointedly compared the army to a racehorse and the government of the day to its jockey. The horse was owned by the King, he said.

PM Lee pays last respects to late Thai King in Bangkok

  • President Tony Tan Keng Yam paid his respects to Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
  • Dr Tan, who was accompanied by his wife Mary, as well as officials from Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry, laid a wreath by the late monarch's royal urn and signed a condolence book.
  • His visit came three days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong travelled to Bangkok to do the same.
  • "King Bhumibol was also a close friend of many countries, including Singapore. Under his long reign, the bilateral relations between Singapore and Thailand strengthened significantly," wrote Dr Tan.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching have paid their last respects to the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyade at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
  • The Singapore leader laid a wreath at the Royal Urn in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and also signed the book of condolences on Oct 21.
  • A scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Lee and Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha was cancelled due to last-minute scheduling difficulties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
  • The prime minister had earlier paid his respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Thai Embassy in Singapore on Oct 14, a day after the 88-year-old died at a Bangkok hospital.
  • PM Lee Hsien Loong signs the condolence book at the Thai Embassy in Singapore, 14 Oct 2016.
  • People pay respect and sign condolence book for the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Thai embassy in Singapore on 15 October 2016 .
  • According to the embassy, a condolence book will be open for signing at its premises at 370 Orchard Road, from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm.
  • Visitors can access the embassy via its Claymore Road entrance.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • This group of students were at the Royal Thai embassy this morning and were told that the embassy would only open at 4pm.
  • A group of close to 33 St Francis Methodhist School students wait outside the Royal Thai embassy on 14 Oct 2016. They were told to return at 4pm when the embassy would allow well-wishers in.
  • A student from St Francis Methodist stands outside the Royal Thai embassy gates on 14 Oct 2016.
  • (L-R) Stamp Promphan, 15, and Pirapat Chaiya,13, from St Francis Methodhist School outside the Royal Thai embassy on 14 Oct 2016.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • The Thai flag flies at half mast at the Royal Thai embassy in Jakarta on October 14, 2016.
  • The Thai flag flies at half mast at the Royal Thai embassy in Jakarta on October 14, 2016.
  • Ms Darunee sobbing after hearing of Thai King Bhumibol's death on Oct 13.
  • She had planned to go home next month but is flying back to Bangkok today to pay her respects.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • People react shortly after it was announced that Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej died at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2016.
  • Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the world's longest-reigning monarch, died in hospital on Thursday, the palace said in an announcement.
  • The palace did not give a reason for his death. He was 88 years old.
  • The king was credited with restoring the influence of Thailand's royalty during 70 years on the throne and earning the devotion of many of his subjects.
  • For the majority of the country's 68 million people, the king was a pillar of stability in rapidly changing times.
  • King Bhumibol, who ascended the throne on June 9, 1946, was seen as a force for unity, and there have long been concerns that the political tensions that have riven Thailand over the past decade could worsen after his death.
  • A well-wisher gestures in front of a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • A well-wisher hold up a portrait of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • Well-wishers wear pink shirts as they pray in front of a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher wears a pink shirt as she prays in front of a portrait of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as she prays for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher weeps as she prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.

Gen Prem became president of the Privy Council - an 18-member body stacked with retired senior military officers - in 1998 and has been a powerful behind-the-scenes figure ever since, with even elected prime ministers taking care to treat him with great deference.

Read also: PM Lee Hsien Loong pays respects to late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Thai Embassy


This article was first published on October 15, 2016.
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