Thousands queue to pay last respects to Thailand’s late King Bhumibol

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Almost 12 million people, or almost one sixth of Thailand’s population, have visited the glittering Grand Palace in Bangkok to pay their respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej since he died last October, the palace said on Thursday.

Thousands lined the streets of Bangkok’s historic area near the Chao Phraya River to enter the palace on Thursday, the last day to see the late king before the royal cremation on Oct. 26.

Queues stretched for more than two km (1.2 miles), officials said, with many lining up since Wednesday.

King Bhumibol died last October aged 88 and his body has laid in state in a gold hall at the palace.

He was widely seen as a father figure and regarded as the nation’s moral compass during decades of on-off political turbulence including several coups, bloody street protests and a region-wide 1997/98 financial crisis.

He was succeeded in December by his only son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, known as Rama X, who has since overseen a shake-up at the palace to give himself greater authority.

The royal funeral will be a mix of Buddhist religious ceremonies and Hindu Brahmin rituals.

Builders have been working for months on a royal crematorium that was built from scratch on a green in front of the palace.

The palace has said it expects 250,000 mourners to attend the royal cremation.

Thailand’s tourism body has asked tourists to respect Thai sensitivities during what promises to be an emotionally-charged time.

 

Source: News agencies