Thailand to set off funeral rites for Bhumibol after Vajiralongkorn takes throne on Dec 1

The cremation ceremony will be held in Buddhist traditions and as many as 8,000 people will take part in it.

Long live the Thai King: Mourners queue outside Bangkok's Grand Palace to pay tribute
Some 1,250 students from the Assumption College hold cards to form an image of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in his honour, in Bangkok. Reuters

Thailand will set off the preparations for the cremation of the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej with the creation of a funeral pyre next year, the government has said.

The ascension of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to the throne is scheduled to take place on December 1.

The cremation ceremony will be held in Buddhist traditions and as many as 8,000 people will take part in it. The funeral pyre will be built at a 74.5-rai Sanam Luang public square in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Revered king Bhumibol died on October 13 at the age of 88 after ruling Thailand for seven decades to become the oldest living monarch in the world. The king's body has been kept at the Grand Palace where his subjects were allowed to pay the last respects. The government had said the funeral would be held only in the next year.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn said the government has set up a committee to monitor the preparations and the building of the funeral pyre.

"Building is expected to be completed before September 2017 but it depends on the weather," Thanasak said. He added that the first meeting of the royal pyre-building committee will be held next week. "The exact location of the pyre will be known by Jan 10," he said.

The king's demise set off speculation about succession to Thai throne but Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha left no room for doubt, saying Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would be anointed as king. Prayuth said the crown prince had had asked for time to grieve before taking the throne.

There were rumors over succession for years as 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.

Earlier this month, Vajiralongkorn returned to Bangkok form Germany, weeks ahead of the scheduled ascension to the Thai crown on December 1.