Thailand Officially Welcomes New King and Queen with Coronation Ceremony

It’s official: Thailand has a new king and queen.

A coronation ceremony was held for King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known by the title King Rama X, on Saturday.

King Maha, 66, became monarch after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in October 2016. The exact reason for the delayed formal coronation is unknown, although it was initially said to be due to a mourning period for the king’s father.

Saturday marked the first day in a three-day coronation ceremony.

As the day began, Maha entered the Grand Palace and began the first of three major rites, the Royal Purification Ceremony, during which the king was showered with holy waters, according to the Associated Press.

From there, the king changed into ornate golden clothes, and while seated on a throne, underwent the Royal Anointment Ceremony. During the rite, holy water was poured on the king’s hands and he was also given a ceremonial nine-tiered white umbrella.

At the conclusion of the rite, the king had assumed full regal power.

In the last of the three rites, the Presentation of Royal Regalia, the king was crowned while seated on a throne. According to the Associated Press, the crown, which is covered in gold-plated diamonds, is over 200 years old and weighs 16 lbs.

As one of first acts as crowned king, Maha went on to present his wife with traditional regalia.

The coronation will be followed by a procession through Bangkok on Sunday.

It was announced Wednesday that the monarch had married his consort, General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, and named her Queen Suthida, according to the Associated Press.

The announcement was reportedly made in the Royal Gazette, although it did not give a date of the wedding.

Thai television stations broadcast the royal order on Wednesday along with a video of Suthida, wearing a pale pink dress, laying before the king and presenting him with a tray of flowers and joss sticks, AP reports. Suthida, 40, was presented gifts in return.

The couple also signed a marriage certificate book, also signed by the king’s sister, Princess Sirindhorn, and Privy Council head as witnesses. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and other senior officials were also in attendance at the ceremony.

The Thai monarch has had three previous marriages. He divorced his most recent wife in 2014.

Little is known about Thailand’s new queen. The couple reportedly met on a flight when she was working as a flight flight attendant for Thai Airways International.

In 2013, Suthida joined the palace guard. King Maha then appointed Suthida as a deputy commander of his bodyguard unit. He made Suthida a full general in December 2016 after he became king, and the deputy commander of the king’s personal guard in 2017. He also made her a Thanpuying, a royal title meaning Lady.

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