Thai king’s body at Grand Palace for people to pay respects
A royal convoy led by a van carrying the remains of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej drove to the Grand Palace in Bangkok’s historic centre on Friday where the body will remain for people to pay respects to the monarch revered by many Thais as their father and a demigod.
Bhumibol died on Thursday at age 88 at Siriraj hospital, which had been his virtual home for years as doctors treated him for various illnesses afflicting his lungs, liver, kidneys, brain and blood.
The convoy drove the short distance across the Chao Phraya river to the sprawling Grand Temple complex, a major tourist attraction replete with resplendent palaces, museums and temples.
Thousands of people sat four to five rows deep on both sides of the road, sobbing openly and bowing deeply as the convoy passed. Most held portraits of the king in regal yellow robes.
Some without portraits pulled currency notes from their wallets -- all bank notes carry the king’s face. Many had camped 24 hours since on Thursday.
Most Thais had known no other king. Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, had been on the throne for 70 years.
His son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is to ascend the throne, followed the king’s body in a yellow Mercedes van. Accompanying Vajiralongkorn was his consort, Lt. Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhaya. Behind them were dozens of cars.
The body will lie at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, inside the Grand Palace complex for an undisclosed duration. No date has been set for the cremation.
“I wanted to send his majesty off for the last time. When I got here the atmosphere was so sad, and everyone had the same emotions,” said Win Weeraprateep, 27, an office worker waiting along the convoy route for two hours. “When I heard the news (of the king’s death) I lost my breath. I couldn’t believe that it was real. I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to have fun,” he said. “I just don’t want to do anything anymore.”