The King's body arrives at the Grand Palace
Mourners line the route of the procession
King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended the throne 70 years ago
Thais were bidding a final farewell to their revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej as his funeral procession made its way through Bangkok on Friday.
His body was transported from Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital to the Grand Palace, where his funeral rites will be carried out.
Here’s the latest:
• The King’s body and his family traveled by motorcade to the Grand Palace, where mourners had claimed spaces to watch the historic event. Many had been camped out since midnight.
• Grieving Thais and Thai military personnel put their hands together in a sign of respect as the vehicle carrying the procession passed them.
• Media broadcasts ceased while the King’s body underwent a bathing ceremony.
• 100 monks are due to chant special prayers during a religious ceremony, taking place at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace.
Thais line route for procession
The procession left the hospital at 5:34 p.m local time with Somdej Phrawannarat, a much-revered monk, in the first vehicle. Phrawannarat is a leader at a Buddhist temple that is important to the King’s Chakri Dynasty. A line of nurses pressed their hands together and bid the King a final farewell as his body was transported to the Grand Palace.
Thousands of Thais dressed in black thronged the streets as the funeral procession – consisting of several vehicles flanked by security personnel – made its way to the Grand Palace. A police spokesman told CNN that he estimated over a hundred thousand people had showed up at the Grand Palace to witness the King’s funeral ceremony. The vehicle transporting the King arrived at the Grand Palace at 5:59 p.m local time.
At the palace, the King’s body was due to undergo a funeral bathing ceremony – a traditional rite in Buddhist culture – attended only by members of the Thai royal family.
Earlier in the day, Thais had also lined up for the opportunity to pour water on a portrait of the King inside the palace grounds – a way for the masses to simulate the symbolic royal bathing of the King’s body.
“This is an important moment in my country’s history,” said 36-year-old Anon Pairot, who was one of those that attended the public gathering.
“I wanted to be a part of it and join other Thais as we mourn our King.”
Others had camped out even earlier to witness the historic procession.
“I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to sit around at home, I had to do something as I was feeling so sad,” says Patarapong Chankaw, 28, who had been at the Grand Palace since 5 a.m local time. “So I came to the grand palace to be with other mourners.”
Sun rises without a King
As dawn broke Friday, the streets were awash with grief as the reality of the Thursday evening passing of the King began to set in.
The tide of pink and yellow of the past few days, worn as a show of support for his majesty, has now made way for a sea of black.
Friday has been declared a public holiday for government offices by the Thai cabinet, according to an announcement on state television.