By The Nation
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn sat atop the Royal Palanquin on Sunday afternoon for an elaborate post-coronation procession, observing a tradition dating back several centuries.
In the Liab Phra Nakhon procession a day after his coronation, the new monarch was carried to three historically significant temples along a seven-kilometre route in the old city.
At each temple, the King paid respects to the principal Buddha statues and the cremated remains of previous kings and queens, while at the same time giving the public a chance to greet him.
A procession like this – usually by land but sometimes along waterways – was first recorded in the 13th century, during the Sukhothai Era. All monarchs of the current Chakri Dynasty have observed the tradition following their coronations.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Royal Land Procession began at 5pm on Sunday at the Grand Palace with Brahmin priests blowing conch shells to signal the moment.
Sitting atop the Phra Ratchayan Phuttan Thong – the Golden Cotton-rose Royal Palanquin – His Majesty wore a brimmed hat and golden traditional garments with a long history of their own and held a sword on his lap.
Her Majesty Queen Suthida and Her Royal Highness Princess Bajra Kitiyabha walked alongside, to the left and right of the palanquin, respectively.
Carrying the ornate palanquin were 16 men, with others ready to replace in shifts them during the long, hot march.
The procession left the Abhorn Bimok Pavilion of the Grand Palace and passed through the Vises Jayasri Gate onto Na Phra Lan Road.
It continued along Rajdamnoen Nai Road, Rajdamnoen Klang Road and Tanao Road to Wat Bovoranives, where the King dismounted to pay homage to the temple’s main Buddha statue.
Thousands of citizens from around the country were massed on the pavements waving the national flag and yellow flags bearing the King’s emblem.
They shouted, “Long live the King” as the procession passed by. Most people wore yellow – the colour of His Majesty’s birthday, a Monday.
Many in the crowd began gathering in the old precincts of Bangkok early in the morning, keen to have good views of the King as he was carried by.
The procession featured 1,286 participants in all, mostly dressed in traditional attire. These included court officials wearing all red or all green and royal guards in red and black suits or in white and blue garb. Leading the procession was a marching band performing songs composed by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Members of the Royal Family – including HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana – stood and bowed in respect to the King as his procession passed their roadside pavilion.
Also taking part in the procession were Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and several other Cabinet members.