THAI officials are preparing to install Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn as the nation’s new king this Dec 1, according to senior military sources.
International newswire Reuters quoted the sources as saying Monday that this is the expected date for now, although the final decision still rests on the prince.
The report said news of the December timeframe comes following the prince’s weekend departure for Germany where he is tending to business. One senior military source said the prince is expected to return to the kingdom sometime this month.
“We are making preparations. Everything is being prepared for Dec 1,” another military source was quoted as saying.
“But this timeframe also depends on His Royal Highness,” the source added.
Thailand’s longest reigning monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away at the age of 88 on Oct 13 after a long time battling a multitude of illnesses.
His death shook the Southeast Asian nation, plunging the country of some 67 million people into a year of mourning.
In the days after his passing, concerns were raised over plans for the royal succession, with some expressing fear of instability in the post-Bhumibol era.
Bhumibol, who ruled Thailand for over 70 years, was long revered as the one true symbol of unity in a nation rocked by decades of unrest.
His son, the crown prince, does not enjoy the same respect in Thailand as his father. He is said to have the reputation of a jet-setting playboy, having been married and divorced three times and having spent most of his life outside the kingdom in Germany.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, in an apparent bid to allay concerns, said during a televised address on Oct 16 that the prince had held an audience with him and Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and urged them to pass on his reassurance to the people.
“He asked the people not to be confused or worry about the country’s administration or even about the succession,” Prayuth was quoted in Reuters as saying then.
“He said at this time, everyone is sad, he is still sad, so every side should wait until we pass this sad time… When the religious ceremony and funeral have passed for a while, then it will be an appropriate time to proceed,” he added.
Prayuth also said later that prince’s formal ascension to the throne could be as early as within seven to 15 days of the king’s death, or later.