As planning for next year’s funeral begins, massive crowds continue to assemble to pay their respects to King Bhumibol. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has given his assent for Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to make the final decisions in the construction of a Phra Meru for the royal cremation, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam disclosed Monday.
The cabinet will today discuss arrangements for the royal funeral ceremony and guidelines to manage the huge number of people expected to flock to the Grand Palace to pay their respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, he said.
Mr Wissanu said the Crown Prince mentioned the building of the Phra Meru, a royal cremation pyre, for his late father to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who recently had an audience with him.
The Crown Prince wants HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to have the final say in the matter, Mr Wissanu said, adding that the building of the Phra Meru requires details such as design and size to be agreed upon.
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The deputy premier said he had informal discussions with Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, the Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household Bureau, who mentioned that several structures would be built at Sanam Luang for the royal funeral ceremony.
In addition to the Phra Meru, royal pavilions and pavilions for monks and mourners among others will be built at Sanam Luang. The delicate task will be under the supervision of the Fine Arts Department.
Mr Wissanu said arrangements for the royal funeral ceremony for His Majesty are on today’s cabinet agenda and will include measures and guidelines on how best to direct people visiting the palace. Large crowds of mourners are expected to travel to Bangkok this long weekend.
The numbers are expected to swell following the Royal Household Bureau’s announcement that it will allow people to pay homage to the late monarch’s urn at the Grand Palace after the 15-day merit-making ceremony is complete.
The deputy prime minister touched on a number of questions raised by the public Monday to ensure proper conduct during the national mourning period. One is Father’s Day which falls on Dec 5. He said Thai embassies in foreign countries are allowed to hold activities to mark Father’s Day as long as they do so in an appropriate manner. He said the national mourning period is set for one year.
Mr Wissanu played down a debate as to how the late monarch should be addressed, but urged the public to address him properly, and as advised by the Royal Household Bureau if possible. He added that the public may continue with His Majesty for the time being.
“It’s not time to criticise who’s wrong. And we should not criticise those who aren’t wearing black. We all feel the same. I’ll also ask officials concerned to find a proper place for those who want to light candles — that’s a Western tradition,” he said.
Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana, who chairs a government committee monitoring the situation, said large crowds are expected to travel to Bangkok from Oct 22-24 to pay respects to His Majesty, with authorities making efforts to accommodate them by proving transportation and a place to sleep.
Mr Suwaphan said the government has asked temples nationwide through the Supreme Patriarch Council to conduct religious ceremonies to make merit for the King. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has set aside Sanam Luang and two other locations in Bangkok to provide accommodation to crowds of mourners from the provinces.
Pol Col Pichai Kriangwattanasiri, director of the BMA’s City Law Enforcement Office, said the BMA has opened two more venues — Keelavet 1 Building at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng district which can accommodate 500 people, and Baan Imjai welfare shelter in Pomprap Sattruphai district which can accommodate 120 people — to serve as shelters for mourners.
According to Bangkok Council member Prasopchoke Prommool, the Royal Turf Club in Nang Loeng, the Navy Club at Tha Chang, and temples around Rattanakosin island are being asked to provide shelter if need be.
The Education Ministry has opened centres in Bangkok and across the country to demonstrate how to dye clothes black.