A new era has begun in Thailand with the accession of King Rama X, succeeding his much loved father King Bhumibol, who died in October after a 70-year reign. On Thursday, the 64-year-old former army pilot officially accepted the role of monarch, 50 days after the death of his father, having delayed the official proclamation so that he could grieve.
The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, seen here with Queen Elizabeth, reigned for 70 years before his death in October Photo: PA
“I would like to accept in order to fulfil His Majesty’s wishes and for the benefit of all Thais,’’ he said, as the televised ceremony showed him kneeling to pay tribute to his father at the palace in Bangkok.
Rama X’s coronation will take place amongst pomp and splendor following the funeral of King Bhumibol, at the end of a year of national mourning. As the tenth monarch of the Chakri dynasty, he will endeavor to fill the very special place in the hearts of his people occupied by his father, who was seen as a unifying force during decades of political turmoil.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has become Thailand's new king Photo: PA
The former Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was born on July 28, 1952 at Dustin Palace in Bangkok, the second of four children of King Bhumibol and his wife Queen Sirikit. Vajiralongkorn was educated at private schools in Britain and Australia, before going on to graduate from the Royal Military College of Duntroon in Canberra and the University of New South Wales. He also holds a degree in law from Sukhothai Thammatirat University in Bangkok.
In 1972, Prince Vajiralongkorn was given the title of Crown Prince by his father.
Portraits of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn for sale seen in front of a memorabilia shop in Bangkok Photo: PA
In the 1970s, as a young military pilot, he took part in counterinsurgency operations against communist forces inside Thailand. Asked about the difficulties of his position in an interview with the BBC, the Prince said: “In every life I believe there are pressure, stress and problems. It is the same for everybody. There are pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. I am not special.”
In recent years he represented his ailing parents at the coronation of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and a Diamond Jubilee lunch held in Britain by Queen Elizabeth II for fellow sovereigns.
The new King's heir is his son, 11-year-old Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti.