Thailand prince Vajiralongkorn returns, quelling another bout of rumours

The crown prince's return from Germany quells a fresh round of rumours.

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 Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has returned to Bangkok with just weeks left for his ascension to the Thai crown following King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death last month.

It was reported earlier that Thailand was preparing to anoint the crown prince on December. 1, though a formal coronation will take place only a year later, after year-long mourning is over.

The crown prince's return from Germany, where he mostly lives, quells a fresh round of rumours stoked by his travel abroad just weeks after the king's death, Reuters reported.

Thailand's revered king Bhumibol Adulyadej died on October 13 at the age of 88. Questions over succession to the Thai crown have been rife for years after the long-serving monarch fell ill. Vajiralongkorn, who mostly spends time abroad, did not command the same respect as Adulyadej, leading to doubts if the palace would supersede him and instead anoint his sister Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

However, after the monarch's death, the government led by the military junta left no scope for confusion and quickly said Vajiralongkorn would succeed the king.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha 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.

"His Highness has arrived back in Thailand from Germany and will attend an event this evening at the 1st Infantry Regiment, King's Own Guards. This is confirmed," a senior military source told the news agency.