Thailand set for coronation of King Rama X, first in 69 years

BANGKOK, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn will be crowned this weekend in a pageantry-laden ceremony flecked by Hindu and Buddhist ritual, as Rama X furthers his primacy over one of the world's richest monarchies and a kingdom beset by ulcerous political divides.

The May 4-6 coronation comes more than two years after Vajiralongkorn

ascended the throne at the death of his father Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Bhumibol reigned over seven tumultuous decades and was revered by Thais as a symbol of unity in a politically chaotic country.

His fiercely private 66-year-old son � Rama X of the Chakri dynasty � is

less well-known by his subjects, and makes frequent trips overseas.

On Saturday at the auspicious hour of 10:09 am the public will be given a

rare window into the heart of Thai power as blanket television coverage of

the three-day coronation begins.

It will start with King Vajiralongkorn's purification by water drawn from

ponds and rivers followed by a presentation of holy water by the top Buddhist patriarch and Chief Brahmin.

Then, as he sits underneath an ornate nine-tiered umbrella inside the Grand Palace, will be handed the diamond-encrusted Great Crown of Victory and issue his first royal command.

The following day Thais, who have not witnessed a coronation since

Bhumibol's in 1950, will see the newly-crowned monarch as he is carried on a palanquin for seven kilometres through Bangkok's historic heart.

The government has set aside 1 billion baht for the ceremony,

according to the deputy prime minister.

In an unexpected twist late Wednesday, the palace named his consort � and deputy head of his security � Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya as his fourth wife, making her Queen Suthida.

The Thai constitutional monarchy was established in 1932.

Source: NAM News Network