Thai king death: Thousands throng streets for procession

The official mourning period will last a year. PHOTO: REUTERS

THOUSANDS of Thais have packed Bangkok streets to see a convoy carrying the body of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The convoy passed through the capital to the royal palace as mourners wept and held up portraits of the late king. Millions watched live on TV.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has been named as successor, but has asked for a delay in the process.
The death of the world’s longest-reigning monarch sparked an outpouring of grief in Thailand, BBC stated.
Official mourning will last a year. The cabinet declared Friday a government holiday, and flags are to fly at half-mast for the next 30 days.
People have been asked to wear black, and avoid “joyful events” during this period. Cinema screenings, concerts and sports events have been cancelled or postponed.
News websites have turned their pages black and white. All television channels in Thailand aired state media programmes including live coverage of the day’s events.
The crown prince travelled in the convoy carrying the king’s body, which will lie at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Royal Palace while people pay their respects.
It could be months before the late king’s cremation.
“This is the worst loss in my life,” said one of those lining the streets.
Later on Friday, the crown prince conducted the bathing ceremony of the king’s body, a traditional Thai Buddhist funeral rite.
The monarch was also seen as a stabilising figure in a country often wracked by political turmoil.
Thailand remains under military rule following a coup in 2014.
The country has suffered from political violence and upheaval over the past decade, as well as a long-running Muslim separatist insurgency in the southern provinces which sees regular small-scale bomb attacks.
Though a constitutional monarch with limited official powers, many Thais looked to King Bhumibol to intervene in times of high tension. He was seen as a unifying and calming influence through numerous coups and 20 constitutions.
However, his critics argued he had endorsed military takeovers and at times had failed to speak out against human rights abuses.