BANGKOK – The king and queen consort of Thailand greeted on Monday the public from the balcony of Bangkok’s Grand Palace for the first time after his formal coronation.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was crowned on Saturday and led a procession through the streets of the Thai capital’s Old City on Sunday, was accompanied by his newly-wed spouse, Queen Suthida.
Thousands of people, dressed in yellow – a color representing the king – cheered the royal couple on while they waved national flags on the streets adjacent to the palace.
Attendees included government leaders such as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who dedicated a few words to the monarch.
In a brief message, King Vajiralongkorn thanked his subjects for their presence at the event and urged everyone to work together for the progress of the nation.
“The Queen and I are very pleased and glad to see the readiness of the people present here to express to me all the best wishes for this coronation,” the king said.
“May all your readiness to express to me your best wishes this time be a good sign that all people and parties together will perform their duties for the progress of our nation,” he added. “I wish to bless you all with happiness, joy and success in all the matters which you desire.”
Towards the end, three of the king’s seven children also appeared on the balcony: his eldest daughter, Princess Bajarkitiyabha (aged 40), Prince Sirivannavari Nariratana (32) and the heir presumptive to the throne, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti (14).
The balcony facing the southeastern part of the royal complex is the same as the one from which the king’s revered father, Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his mother, the dowager Queen Sirikit, had addressed the nation after the last coronation ceremony, held in 1950.
The 66-year-old monarch, who has assumed the regnal name of King Rama X of the Chakri dynasty, had already acceded to the throne in late 2016 upon his popular predecessor’s death, following a three-month mourning period.
King Bhumibol was considered by many to be the father of the nation and seen as a guiding figure by a majority of the Thai population. He was widely venerated with almost religious fervor and was often given the epithet “Bhumibol the Great.”
His son and successor, who has been divorced thrice and has seven children, married Queen Suthida three days before the coronation ceremonies began.
Queen Suthida (nee Tidjai) is a 40-year-old former flight attendant who was made a general of the king’s royal guard in 2014, around the time the king – by then still the country’s crown prince – divorced his third wife.
The now-king’s third spouse was Srirasmi Suwadee, another non-royal. Their marriage lasted for over a decade before the couple divorced 2014 after some of her relatives were accused of using her position to enrich themselves.
The three-day coronation celebrations had a cost of approximately 1 billion baht ($31 million) in taxpayer money.