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After 2 Years Of Rule, King Of Thailand Finally Set To Be Crowned

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Today, Thailand formally crowned its new king, who took the throne after the death of his father in 2016. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, but the king still wields considerable influence. Michael Sullivan reports on the coronation of the new king and what the Thai people may think of their new monarch.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, BYLINE: The king arrived at the Grand Palace promptly at 10 a.m., with his new wife and now new queen at his side, to music that hinted at the monarchy's Hindu influences in this mostly Buddhist nation. He then sat as the head monk offered prayers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Foreign language spoken).

SULLIVAN: About a half hour later, at a time ostensibly chosen by astrologers as being most auspicious, the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn got underway in earnest with the royal purification service...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SULLIVAN: ...First with holy water poured over his head with horns blaring and cannons booming for the man now officially the 10th king in the Chakri dynasty. After that came the anointment ceremony in the royal throne room where he formally received the trappings of office, including the royal crown, then spoke briefly, softly.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KING MAHA VAJIRALONGKORN: (Foreign language spoken).

SULLIVAN: He pledged to do his best for his country and its people. And while the new king hasn't yet achieved the same level of veneration accorded his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thais dressed in yellow, the color of the monarchy, crowded the Royal Plaza for today's coronation just the same. Twenty-nine-year-old Patchara Kongpetch.

PATCHARA KONGPETCH: We love the king. We be really thankful for the king. And I believe him will be good, the same with his father.

SULLIVAN: Seventy-five-year-old retiree Pinyo Prayoonharn liked the old king and likes the new one, too.

PINYO PRAYOONHARN: (Foreign language spoken).

SULLIVAN: "His father was a soldier and so was he, both very talented and both," he says, "everything that the Thai people want in a king." A king who is country's political future remains clouded more than a month after a general election - the country's first since the military seized power in 2014. Final results from that election are expected on Wednesday, two days after this three-day celebration concludes. For NPR News, I'm Michael Sullivan in Bangkok. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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