BANGKOK: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered tighter security measures before and during the Royal Cremation of e His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. HisCrematorium is the largest ever in Thailand.
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was the longest serving monarch of Thailand, who selflessly served his people for 70 years. His passing in 2016, has united the country in grief. Fondly called ‘Father’ he was the spiritual and physical head of a family of 71 million people. Many thought of him as a living god. The Kingdom will begin the five-day royal cremation ceremony from 26th October.
In total, more than 11 million Thais from around the country have paid their respects in person to their late King at the Grand Palace over the past year, according to official figures.
The premier had assigned the military, police, the National Security Council and the National Intelligence Agency to prepare the funeral security plan, months prior to the recent shooting in Las Vagas.
Deputy Junta Chairman General Prawit Wongsuwan said that security has been stepped up and full-scale security measures would be implemented for the funeral rites, culminating with the October 26 cremation. Due to its national importance, Oct 26 has been declared a public holiday.
Recent estimates of 250,000 mourners appear to be conservative. Many observers expect millions of mourners to gather around Sanam Luang, (the grounds for the cremation pyre) to witness the king’s farewell in a ceremony the likes of which has not been seen for generations.
Many hotels near the Grand Palace are fully booked, during 24-29 October, as Thais from home and abroad are expected to descend upon the metropolis in huge numbers. Traffic around the Royal site is being diverted and delays are to be expected. Hotels in the area are laying on buffets during meal times, in preparation for the expected large numbers of diners.
It’s a security headache of gigantic proportions. “This will be one of the biggest events in the world,” General Prawit said. “We have to do our best in order to maintain security.”
“Some 70,000 security officers will be deployed to keep the peace”, he added.
Defense spokesman Major General Kongcheep Tantravanich, responding to questions of security, said in a recent Khaosod newspaper interview, “If there are attempts to disrupt the royal funeral, or do something to prevent things from going smoothly – we are prepared.
People of Thailand bowed and prostatedthemselves before him and always proffered a deep wai (the Thai greeting with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion) not just as a sign of respect but out of a deep sense of love and devotion. His picture graced almost every home and every building in Thailand. Never had a King been so respected.
Hundreds of master craftsmen have toiled for thousands of man-hours, crafting exquisite pieces in wood from timber especially chosen for the occasion. Thailand is preparing a grandiose final farewell to its beloved late King in a way not experienced by most living Thais.
As per tradition, wood from the rare and fragrant Mai Chan Hom tree, a Kalamat (similar to sandalwood) from the Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan, will be used in the funeral of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The royal tree which was selected to be used in the royal funeral is already dead, one of 12 lifeless yet standing Mai Chan Hom trees. The use of the fragrant and auspicious tree is a custom that can be traced back to the Ayutthaya period.
Trees from the park were used in the funeral of the late Princess Mother in 1996 and for Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana in 2008.
A spiritual as well as historical landmark of the city, Sanam Luang has been used as the funeral ground of kings, queens, princes and princesses since the beginning of the present Chakri dynasty of the Rattanakosin era (1782). The last time Bangkok saw a royal funeral pyre was at the cremation of Her Royal Highness Princess Bejraratana Rajasuda in April 2012.
But the royal cremation of His Majesty the King will be a majestic farewell, unprecedented in scale and historical gravity. The last time a Thai king was cremated was 66 years ago, when King Ananda Mahidol was cremated in March 1950 at Sanam Luang.