Thai the knot: King marries his bodyguard

The king will be crowned on Saturday in a ceremony that weaves together Buddhist and Hindu Brahmin rituals

The king will be crowned on Saturday in a ceremony that weaves together Buddhist and Hindu Brahmin rituals Credit Damir Sagolj REUTERS

The king also has paid his respects to earlier monarchs, Rama I and Rama V, at statues and memorials in Bangkok, and worshipped "sacred beings" at locations within the palace.

This weekend, Thailand celebrates the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, two years after having ascended to the throne after the death of his father. The royal ceremonies were happening amidst an unresolved election battle between the current military junta chief and a democratic front trying to push the army out of politics.

The newest member of the royal family is the fourth wife of 66-year-old Vajiralongkorn, a deeply private monarch who spends a lot of his time overseas in Germany.

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is wrapping up three days of coronation ceremonies with appearances before the public and the diplomatic corps. Each poured holy water over the king's hand, along with a ninth representing the heavens. The monarch was also given an artillery salute.

Since Thailand ended absolute monarchic rule in 1932, the country has been ruled by an official government.

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Though Thailand has had a constitutional monarchy since 1932, the country's monarchs are regarded as nearly divine and have been seen as a unifying presence in Thailand.

Officials walk past the Grand Palace during the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand, May 4, 2019.

Vajiralongkorn has inherited a nation in political turmoil.

"I am very happy and feeling goosebumps", she said, gripping a portrait of her monarch.

As per an AP report, prominent intellectual and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa said that Vajiralongkorn personally does not like ceremonies but since it had to be performed as per tradition, he wanted it to be executed "properly". When his father was cremated in 2017, Vajiralongkorn "insisted that everything had to be done properly".

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A royal barge procession on the gracious Suphannahong royal barge for the King is planned for October.

The coronation for His Majesty was the first since the last event of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on May 5, 1950.

Before noon, the purified and anointed sovereign will sit under an elaborate nine-tiered umbrella, where he will receive the royal golden plaque containing his name and title, the royal horoscope, and the royal seal, which were made in a three-hour ritual last week.

Draped in bejewelled royal regalia summoning images of another era, in contrast with consumer-mad Bangkok outside palace walls, Vajiralongkorn vowed to reign "with righteousness" for the benefit of Thais.

"Because King Mongkut was a monk, he ordered that the procession should visit important Buddhist temples so the new monarch can provide alms to monks", said Tongthong Chandransu, an expert on Thai royal rituals.

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