The date has been set for the cremation of Thailand’s late monarch, King Bhumibol (Rama IX), who died on 13 October 2016 after years of ill health. King Bhumibol was the longest reigning monarch in the world during his lifetime. He was 88.
His cremation is due to take place on 26 October 2017 with his funeral taking place over a five-day period, according to a government official. The cremation will be held in Bangkok in a public square where a funeral pyre is being constructed. It is due to be completed by September.
According to Reuters, “The Palace has confirmed that the King agrees with the government’s plan. The cremation day will be 26 October.” However, the senior government source asked to remain anonymous. Thailand has strict rules about speaking on royal matters; the country abides by lèse-majesté as written in Thai Criminal Code section 112. It is illegal to insult, threaten or defame members of the royal family. What exactly constitutes this is up to interpretation.
The Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam also told reporters, “The funeral will take place over a five-day period.”
Now that the cremation date as been confirmed, it sets in motion the move toward the coronation of Thailand’s current King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X). According to Channel News Asia, his coronation will “kick-start politics following a year-long mourning period, and a general election should follow soon after.”
Thailand’s government was overthrown by a military coup in 2014. Earlier this month, His Majesty signed a new constitutional document in Bangkok paving the way for a return to democracy; however, it still allows the army to have an influential role in politics.
He was proclaimed as King of Thailand on 1 December, which was 50 days after the death of his father. He said then, “I accept the invitation to fulfil the wish of His Majesty the Late King and for the benefit of all Thai people.” Surprisingly, the ascension of the new King was made retroactive to 13 October 2016, the day of his father’s death. The then Crown Prince had asked for his ascension to be postponed to give him time to mourn.