The Latest: Thai royals lead funeral procession for king
BANGKOK (AP) — The Latest on the funeral of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej (POO-mee-pon AH-dun-yaa-det) (all times local):
Members of Thailand’s royal family are leading an elaborate procession for King Bhumibol Adulayadej’s funeral ceremonies. Soldiers dressed in traditional uniforms are carrying a symbolic urn around the Grand Palace as they make their way to royal crematorium in Bangkok.
Bodies of royals are traditionally kept in such urns, but Bhumibol and his late mother and sister opted for their remains to be placed in coffins instead.
Thursday’s procession was also attended by Thailand’s junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. A band played songs composed by the late king, while artillery guns were fired in the distance. The elaborate, somber processions will be followed by the cremation Thursday evening.
Thousands of mourners watched the funeral ceremony for Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej from two large video screens set up near a replica of the royal crematorium near a Bangkok monument to an earlier monarch.
Some were in tears at the viewing location near the King Rama V monument Thursday morning as they watched Buddhist monks and current King Maha Vajiralongkorn take part in prayer rituals inside the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall ahead of the somber processions to the crematorium.
A total of 85 replicas of the royal crematorium were built nationwide for those who cannot travel to the capital to witness the cremation ceremony. Nine of the replicas are in Bangkok.
A royal ceremony to begin moving the remains of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej to his spectacular golden crematorium has begun in the royal quarter of Bangkok.
The ceremony will be followed by three separate and intensely solemn processions involving thousands of troops, a golden palanquin, a chariot and a royal gun carriage to move the royal urn representing Bhumibol’s remains from the Dusit Maha Prasad Throne Hall to the crematorium. Thursday’s journey along a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) route will take at least three hours and is being watched by tens of thousands of mourners dressed all in black.
Thais have braved tropical heat and torrential downpours to secure street-side vantage points to witness the funeral, which is spread over five days.
Deceased Thai royals have traditionally been kept upright in elaborate urns during official mourning. But Bhumibol, who spent much of his early life in the West, opted to be put in a coffin, with the urn placed next to it for devotional purposes.
Many of the thousands of Thais working as volunteers during the five days of ceremonies for the cremation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej say it’s a way of showing respect.
The official ceremonies and processions are taking place in a historic quarter of Bangkok but other sites have been set up around Bangkok where people can make offerings.
Jiranun Koohacharoen, a revenue department official who signed up as a volunteer for a funeral observance site at a popular park in downtown Bangkok, said, “I volunteered because I want to give back to His Majesty. It is a big event and I want to do anything I can to help.”
She said she went to the official funeral area during rehearsals for the processions.
She said, “I live in Bangkok so I want to give others a chance to go. I heard that it’s full and people are fighting to get in.”
The five-day funeral for King Bhumibol Adulyadej has officially begun with a Buddhist merit making ceremony in the throne hall of Dusit palace in the capital Bangkok’s historic quarter.
The ceremony is in preparation for moving an urn, representing Bhumibol’s remains, on Thursday morning to a golden crematorium built over the past year for the funeral.
By tradition, the bodies of deceased members of the royal family have been kept upright in an elaborate urn. But Bhumibol and his late mother and sister, who all spent much of their early lives in the West, opted to be put in a coffin, with the urn still placed next to it for devotional purposes.
Bhumibol’s son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is performing merit making rites at the throne hall watched by other members of the royal family.
Thai television stations broadcast an hour-long documentary about Bhumibol’s life before the merit-making ceremony.
Police are trying to calm occasional flare-ups of tension among mourners who’ve waited under the hot sun to enter the cordoned-off area in Bangkok where elaborate ceremonies and processions for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s (POO-mee-pon AH-dun-yaa-det) funeral will take place.
There have been accusations of queue jumping and sharp exchanges between some of the black-clad mourners, many of whom have endured heat and tropical downpours for at least a day as they waited to enter.
Volunteers are handing out water as the crowds slowly move through security checks into the historic royal quarter.
Mourner Banterng Saeuong proudly says “I was born in the reign of King Rama 9,” as Bhumibol is also known. “This is the most important event in my lifetime.”