Thai King Vajiralongkorn crowned at start of three day ceremony which transforms him into living god

'I shall reign in righteousness for the benefits of the kingdom and the people forever,' king says in his first royal command after donning the 7kg gold-enameled, diamond-tipped crown

Thai King Vajiralongkorn is crowned as three-day coronation ceremony begins

Thailand's king was been crowned on the first of three days of coronation rites, which will see him symbolically transformed into a living god after the culmination of intricate Buddhist and Brahmin rituals.

Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned on Saturday, but has been the southeast Asian nation's constitutional monarch since October 2016 following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Tradition dictates the first royal command is issued during the crowning and serves to capture the essence of the new king's reign.

"I shall reign in righteousness for the benefits of the kingdom and the people forever," the king said, before taking his seat on a high throne under a nine-tiered umbrella in full royal regalia, including a gold-enameled, diamond-tipped crown.

Seated below him was his former chief bodyguard and new Queen Suthida, after a surprise announcement three days before the coronation that the thrice-divorced monarch had married for a fourth time.

The coronation comes after a period of mourning for the late king, who ruled for seven decades.

It also falls amid an unresolved election battle between the ruling military junta and a "democratic front", which is trying to push the army out of politics.

Thailand ended absolute rule by its kings in 1932, but the monarchy remains highly revered as the divine symbol and protector of the country and Buddhist religion.

Thai kings' coronation rituals are a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu Brahmin traditions dating back centuries. One of the many official titles King Vajiralongkorn will take is Rama X, or the 10th king of the Chakri dynasty founded in 1782.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (C) sitting on the throne during his coronation ceremony at the Grand Palace in Bangkok

Saturday's rituals were about transforming him into a "Devaraja", or a divine embodiment of the gods.

The coronation takes place inside the Grand Palace throne hall where the royal guardian deity Phra Siam Devadhiraj is said to reside.

Other features of the coronation include:

  • Presenting the king with the royal golden plaque containing his name and title, the royal horoscope, and the royal seal, which were made in a three-hour ritual last week.
  • Receiving and wearing the five articles of the royal regalia from the chief Brahmin.
  • The high-reaching crown, which weighs 7.3 kg (16 lb) and symbolises the summit of Mount Meru, the Hindu god Indra's heavenly abode, and its weight represents the monarch's royal burden.

Waters collected from 117 sources, blessed by Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests at temples around the country, were used to consecrate the king.

This purification is the essential step for the king to be considered the divine representative on Earth and chief patron of Buddhism.

Outside the palace walls, a sea of people in yellow polo shirts - a colour that is symbolic of the king - sat on roadsides, holding up portraits of the king and the Thai national flag.

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