'Thailand to anoint Maha Vajiralongkorn as new king on December 1'

There was chatter in Thailand popular princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn might be chosen for the throne.

Thailand to anoint Maha Vajiralongkorn as king on December 1
Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attends an event commemorating the death of King Chulalongkorn, known as King Rama V, as he joins people during the mourning of his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok, Thailand, October 23, 2016. REUTERS

Thailand is preparing for the ascension of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to the throne on December. 1, according to reports.

"We are making preparations. Everything is being prepared for Dec. 1 ... But this timeframe also depends on His Royal Highness," a senior military source told Reuters.

Thailand's revered king Bhumibol Adulyadej died on October 13 at the age of 88, plunging the country into grief and raising questions about the Southeast Asian nation's political stability in the absence of his anchoring role for more than seven decades.

Though speculations over succession were rife since the king became seriously ill, the junta-led government's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha unequivocally said the crown prince would succeed the king.

In the meantime, 96-year-old Privy Council head Prem Tinsulanonda took on the role of the regent until the crowning of the new king.

There was chatter in Thailand if popular princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn would be chosen for the throne, breaking conventions. However, the military junta's outright backing of Vajiralongkorn dampened such hopes.

Prime Minister Prayuth reassured people that the crown prince would take the throne in due course and that he had asked for time to grieve. "Citizens in Thailand and abroad should not be worried or concerned ... After at least 15 days of mourning, it will be the appropriate time to enact Section 23 of the constitution," Prayuth had said.

The ruling military junta spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to burnish the image of the crown prince. The junta campaign was titled "Worship, protect and uphold the monarchy.

Vajiralongkorn is not as popular as the king and his playboy lifestyle had further distanced him from ordinary Thais. However, Thailand's notorious les majeste laws prevented any serious discussion over succession.