BANGKOK – Thailand was marking on Saturday the 66th birthday of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, while a date for his formal coronation has yet to be announced almost two years after he was declared king.
Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X as he is the 10th monarch of the Chakri dynasty, was named king after the death of his hugely popular father, Bhumibol Adulyadej or Rama IX, who died at the age of 88 on Oct. 13, 2016.
The crown prince had requested a period of mourning to honor the memory of his father before being proclaimed the King.
In a ceremony held at the capital’s Dusit palace, Vajiralongkorn was declared the King of Thailand on Dec. 1, 2017, with his reign starting retroactively since his father’s death.
On Saturday, the King’s supporters were set to hold a prayer vigil to honor the Monarch at a square in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Prayers will also be held in front of city halls in towns and villages across the country.
The Thai government, led by military generals since a 2014 coup, has urged citizens to dress in yellow, the King’s color, to mark the occasion, and several large billboards with his picture have been put up around the capital, an epa-efe journalist reported.
The military government has postponed elections in the country until after the coronation, although no official dates have been announced.
The Sovereign has spent most of his life abroad, away from the Crown’s routines, and enjoys significantly less popularity than his father.
Since ascending to the throne, Vajiralongkorn has increased his powers by approving a number of legal reforms, including one which gives him the sole charge of the vast heritage owned by the crown and the state agencies responsible for his security.
Information over the Thai monarchy is a sensitive matter in the country due to a lèse-majesté law, which lays down 3-15 year prison sentences for criticizing or making insulting comments towards the royal family.