Thailand is preparing for the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to be named as the country’s new king on 1 December.
There are concerns among Thais that the late king’s only son – a colourful character who has been criticised for indulging in a “playboy” lifestyle – will not have the same authority as his father and will jeopardise the country’s fragile political stability.
The death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the longest serving monarch in the world, has led to a deep sense of uncertainty in the country that was intensified when the prince requested to delay taking the throne so he could mourn his father’s death.
News that the prince will be named as king in December follows the prince’s departure for Germany at the weekend, where he has spent much of his time, a senior military source told Reuters. The source added that the prince would return in November.
“We are making preparations. Everything is being prepared for 1 December,” another senior military source said. “But this timeframe also depends on His Royal Highness.”
The late monarch was a stabilising force in Thailand and experts credit his intermittent interventions in public life with keeping peace in the country.
Since 2001 Thailand has been rocked by clashes between royalist-military establishments and populist political parties that have led to several fatal demonstrations and two coups.
Although Thailand has strict laws that protect the royal family from insult or threat, the 64-year-old prince has occasionally been surrounded by scandal.
He is renowned for his dedication to his pet poodle, Foo Foo, which was awarded the rank of Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force and given its own Wikipedia page.
The is also famed for having an eclectic dress sense — earlier in 2016 he was photographed at a Munich airport wearing a small white crop top and a fake tattoo sleave.
Although he is due to be named as king in December, his formal coronation cannot take place until after the king’s cremation in a year’s time.
Thailand’s baht has dropped by 0.9 per cent during October amid uncertainty about the future of the country.