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BANGKOK – The official coronation of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn , who is also known as Rama X, involves months of rituals that will culminate in three days of elaborate pageantry, including a parade and an appearance by the monarch on a balcony of the Grand Palace. The final event will be a royal barge procession in October.
The last coronation, of Vajiralongkorn's late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was on May 5, 1950 . Bhumibol died in 2016 at age 88 after reigning for seven decades.
PRELIMINARY RITUALS: Preparations for the royal coronation began in April with the collection and blessings of water from across Thailand to be used in this weekend's ceremonies. Prayers by monks at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha preceded the inscriptions of royal golden plaques and the Royal Seal of State, according to a schedule released by the Thai government. The king also has paid his respects to earlier monarchs, Rama I and Rama V, at statues and memorials in Bangkok, and worshipped "sacred beings" at locations within the palace.
MAY 4, SATURDAY, CORONATION DAY: In a royal purification ceremony at the Grand Palace , holy water is poured over the king's head. An anointment ceremony with more consecrated water follows. He then ascends the royal throne and sits beneath the royal 9-tiered umbrella, used only by the king, to receive the royal golden plaque, royal regalia and weapons of sovereignty, among other symbols of the monarchy, from the chief Brahmin — a dignitary whose role reflects the influence of Hinduism on Thai's monarchy.
The king later receives members of the royal family, the Privy Council and Cabinet, among other senior officials, who will pay their respects in the Throne Hall. Afterward he will visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to announce he is the royal defender of Buddhism. The day's events end with a ceremony of the Assumption of the Royal Residence, a symbolic palace housewarming.
MAY 5, SUNDAY: The day begins with a ceremony in the Throne Hall where the king grants royal titles to members of the royal family. It ends with a 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) royal procession involving 343 men, some of them carrying the king through old Bangkok in an ornately decorated palanquin, allowing Thais to pay homage to their new king. A light and sound show and a display by drones are planned for the evening. Free food and public transport are provided for spectators.
MAY 6, MONDAY: The king greets the public from the balcony of the Grand Palace in the late afternoon and then holds a reception for the diplomatic corps.
OCTOBER 2019: In the final rite of the coronation, about 2,300 oarsmen, paddling to rhythmic barge-rowing songs, will convey the king on one of 50 ornate royal barges to present robes to Buddhist monks at Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), one of the most famous of many temples along Bangkok's Chao Phraya River.