Thailand Has a New King as Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn Ascends

Thailand Has a New King as Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn Ascends

In this image made from video, Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, gestures near a portrait of his late father at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016.

Bhumibol's own coronation took place four years after his brother King Ananda Mahidol died of gunshot wounds in mysterious circumstances.

Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted invitation from parliament president to ascend to the throne and thus formally proclaimed King Rama X in a televised ceremony. Vajiralongkorn, who married thrice and has seven children, was never as popular as Adulyadej and had spent most of his time in Germany.

The process began earlier this week when the president of the National Legislative Assembly invited Vajiralongkorn to ascend to the throne "and become king of the Thai people".

The new king, with a less intense interest in state affairs, does not command the same level of respect as his revered late father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose death plunged the kingdom into intense mourning.

Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has succeeded his father to Thailand's throne.

Vajiralongkorn studied in the United Kingdom and Australia.

"I wish the new King much strength and success working for the well-being of the Thai people", the statement said.

"Some people have pointed to the monarchy as a stabilising force in Thai politics", said David Streckfuss, an independent academic specialising in Southeast Asian studies.

King Bhumibol was regarded as a pillar of stability during decades of political turmoil in Thailand.

The ceremony which was broadcast live on naitional television offered Thais the very first glimpse of their new king. The late king's image as a truce-maker peaked after violent clashes in 1992 between pro-democracy activists and the army.

Under Vajiralongkorn's rule the military is expected to retain wide power, even if elections go ahead late next year as the military has promised.

The acknowledgement by the NLA came after the cabinet, chaired by Prayut issued formal notification on the Crown Prince's succession to the throne, following a special meeting at the Government House.

But other reports regarding the crown prince are less clear, with Thailand's tough Les Majeste laws protecting the immediate royal family, with those found guilty facing long jail sentences.

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