Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn acceded to the Thailand throne on Thursday to become the 10th King of the Chakri dynasty after he formally accepted the invitation of the National Legislative Assembly to take the throne vacated by the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The new King's formal name will be His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, the palace said.
The royal succession process that began in mid October concluded on Thursday afternoon when the regent, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, and the heads of the country's three branches of government met the Crown Prince to formally invite him to assume the throne. Apart from the regent, the delegation consisted of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Pornpetch and Veerapol Tungsuwan, president of the Supreme Court.
"I accept [the invitation to be king] and to fulfil the royal intentions [of the late King] for the benefit and happiness of all Thais," the new monarch, 64, said.
The new king's coronation will take place at a later date the place said. The coronation ceremony will only be held after the cremation of Adulyadej, which will take place only in late 2017.
"May all the Thai people unite to pray that the powers of King Bhumibol and past kings protect the new king so that he may long reign as an idol and guardian of the Thai people," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said.
The new king faces the task of gaining acceptance among the Thai public who venerated his father. Vajiralongkorn, who married thrice and has seven children, was never as popular as Adulyadej and had spent most of his time in Germany. In the years running up to the King's death in October there were speculations if the crown prince would actually succeed to the throne.
Thailand's fierce lese majeste laws protect the immediate royal family from public criticism but the grapevine had always linked Vajiralongkorn to the state of political affairs in the country and the exile of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The anointment of the new monarch will nonetheless bring an element of political stability in Thailand, which has been in flux for a decade after the ouster of Shinawatra's popular government. The country is currently ruled by a military junta that toppled the democratic government led by Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Prayuth's government, which spent millions of dollars in a massive public relations exercise in recent years to burnish the monarchy, had clearly stated Vajiralongkorn would succeed Adulyadej.