King Maha Vajiralongkorn has been officially crowned as Thailand’s monarch amid Buddhist and Hindu prayers and pageantry costing over $30 million.
The 66-year-old Vajiralongkorn, also known as king Rama X, succeeded his father upon the latter’s death in October 2016. But the coronation was delayed by a year of mourning and a suitable span of time from the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej’s funeral in 2017. Today’s coronation was the country’s first in nearly seven decades.
The coronation celebrations span several days and include a royal procession on Sunday, for which rehearsals have been underway in the capital during the week. The ceremonies were preceded by Thailand unexpectedly getting a queen after Vajiralongkorn married the deputy head of his person guard force on Wednesday (May 1), making her Queen Suthida.
Images of the new king were everywhere in the capital, and people carried the monarch’s photograph and wore yellow—a color associated with the day the king was born—to demonstrate their loyalty. The new king, though seen as an unorthodox figure—he once brought his pet poodle in evening attire to a US embassy gala—was the picture of royal tradition through the elaborate rituals that conveyed his symbolism as a living god.
The coronation comes as Thailand is yet to declare a winner in March’s national election, the first since a coup in 2014 installed a military junta. A party that backs junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha—who was among the officials to pour sacred waters on the king’s hands during the ceremonies—and the anti-junta opposition both claimed victory (paywall) after the vote.