BANGKOK – Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn underwent on Saturday a formal coronation in the third year of his reign.
King Vajiralongkorn had already acceded to the throne in late 2016 upon the death of his revered father, Bhumibol Adulyadej. But in Thailand, the official coronation is often held on a later date than the proclamation – for example, the previous king was crowned four years after assuming his royal duties.
“We shall keep, conserve and continue to reign with righteousness, for the benefit and eternal happiness of all the people,” the king said upon being crowned, echoing the same words his popular predecessor used during his own coronation in 1950.
The 66-year-old monarch was accompanied during the sumptuous ritual at Bangkok’s Grand Palace by his newly-wed spouse, Queen Suthida, as well as two of his three sisters, three of his seven children and various members of the Privy Council and the cabinet.
The royal couple unexpectedly married on Wednesday in traditional nuptials. The new queen consort is a 40-year-old former flight attendant who was made a general of the king’s royal guard in 2014, around the time he divorced his third wife.
Before the coronation, King Vajiralongkorn – who has assumed the regnal name Rama X of the Chakri Dynasty – was first purified with holy water in complex rites led by Hindu Brahmins and Buddhist monks, a reflection of the religious syncretism prevalent in Thailand.
He was also offered a series of sacred objects, including the following regalia: the Royal Slippers, the Royal Fan and Fly Whisk, the Royal Sword of Victory and the Royal Scepter.
The ceremony’s climax came when the sovereign placed the massive Great Crown of Victory on himself while thousands of temples rang their bells throughout the country and artillery units from the army, air force and navy fired dozens of cannons outside the palace to salute the king.
The spiral-shaped golden crown is 66 centimeters (26 inches) tall, weighs 7.3 kilograms (16 pounds) and is adorned with multiple diamonds.
At least 10,000 members of the security forces have been deployed in the area surrounding the royal palace.
The opulent coronation ceremonies, performed over three days, are estimated to have a cost of approximately 1 billion baht ($31 million).
On Sunday, the king is scheduled to parade through the Thai capital’s Old City on a palanquin.
The coronation ceremonies are set to conclude on Monday, when the monarch will address his subjects from a balcony at the Great Palace and later receive members of the diplomatic corps.