The Irrawaddy

Thai King Orders Festival Paying Homage to Past Monarchs

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn presides over rites as the royal urn is moved from the Grand Palace in a procession to the Royal Crematorium for King Bhumibol Adulyadej's cremation in Bangkok, Thailand, in this still image taken from video, October 26, 2017.

BANGKOK — Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has ordered a history-themed festival for the public, a government spokesman said on Monday, as the Southeast Asian nation emerges from a year of mourning for his revered father.

The king’s father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose reign spanned seven decades, was cremated in Bangkok in October.

The late king, who died in October 2016, commanded the devotion of millions and helped shape Thailand for decades after World War II. King Vajiralongkorn does not attract the same level of devotion.

The festival, which will take place at the Royal Plaza, a public square in Bangkok, from Feb. 8 to March 11, will feature exhibitions showcasing the life and work of his late father King Bhumibol and his great grandfather, King Chulalongkorn, who reigned from 1868 to 1910.

The festival will include gardens, fountains and historic-looking structures.

“The king wants Thai people to be happy by reminiscing about the past, that’s why the festival has a historical theme,” government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told Reuters on Monday.

He added that the public will be encouraged to wear traditional Thai clothes and 19th century Thai fashions.

King Vajiralongkorn, who ascended the throne after his father’s death, quickly asserted his authority by requiring changes to a new constitution to make his powers clear and he also set about reorganizing the palace.

He has issued a number of royal decrees in recent months pertaining to the promotion and dismissal of palace officials.

He has also been given full control of the agency that manages the multi-billion dollar holdings of the monarchy.

Outside of the palace, the king has ordered the organization of public events such as weekend music concerts aimed at “bringing happiness to the people.”

King Vajiralongkorn’s formal coronation is expected to take place later this year and could signal the start of politics following a year of mourning and the late king’s funeral.

Thai laws protecting members of the royal family from insult limit what all news organizations, including Reuters, can report from Thailand.