Crown Prince tells mourning Thailand: Don't worry about succession process

Story highlights

  • Crown Prince: A succession process to replace Thai king is in place
  • The exact timing of when the Crown Prince will ascend to the throne is still unknown

(CNN)Three days after the death of Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose funeral rites began Friday after a 70-year reign, grieving has shifted to guessing regarding when the royal throne will be occupied.

Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralonkorn, who was named successor to Bhumibol back in December 1972, wants to lay to rest speculation that's arisen as the southeast Asian nation mourns its longtime leader.
    Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attends the annual royal ploughing ceremony at Sanam Luang in Bangkok on May 13, 2015.
    In a statement on national television Saturday, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the Crown Prince has urged people not to "worry about the country's administration or even the succession."

    Bury the king, begin the speculation

    Citing the Crown Prince, the prime minister said the succession process was outlined long ago by "the Constitution, Royal Law, and tradition."
    However, Thai citizens remain in a "moment of sadness" following the funeral process Friday, the prime minister said. That's why the Crown Prince hasn't moved ahead to fill the throne.
    According to a police spokesperson, more than 100,000 people showed up at the Grand Palace in Bangkok to pay their respects to the late King, one of the world's longest-reigning monarch.
    On Thursday, the prime minister said that the Crown Prince "needs time to mourn his father" -- leaving the country waiting in suspense for a formal successor.
    "Once the merit making ceremony and royal funeral ceremony have ended for a while, that would be the proper period to proceed," he said.

    What happens next

    According to the prime minister, the Crown Prince asked Saturday night to meet the temporary regent, former Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda, out of concern for citizens.
    Though the Crown Prince is expected to succeed the King, the exact timing of when he will ascend to the throne has yet to be made public.