Preparations set for Thai prince to succeed to throne
Thailand is preparing to welcome a new king, with final arrangements scheduled to formalise the accession of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to the throne.
National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai is to have an audience with the prince later to invite him to become king - a constitutional formality, according to the assembly Vice President Peerasak Porchit.
Mr Pornpetch's public announcement of Prince Vajiralongkorn's acceptance, expected on Thursday night, will complete the succession process - making the 64-year-old prince King Rama X, the 10th monarch in the Chakri dynasty that was founded in 1782.
The prince made his first public appearance in more than a week, attending a religious ceremony honouring his late father. He was accompanied by his three sisters, two adult daughters and 11-year-old son.
Prince Vajiralongkorn's father, the much-revered Bhumibol Adulyadej, who took the throne in 1946, died on October 13 at age 88 after many years of ill health.
In 1972, King Bhumibol designated Prince Vajiralongkorn - his second child and only son - as his successor.
Prince Vajiralongkorn was originally expected to assume the throne the day his father died, but in a surprise announcement, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the prince asked for the succession to be put off so he would have time to mourn.
In the interim, royal affairs have been overseen by a regent, Prem Tinsulanonda, who along with Prayuth and Supreme Court Chief Justice Veerapol Tungsuwan were to accompany the assembly president at his audience to invite the prince to take the throne.
Thailand has been in a state of national mourning since King Bhumibol's death, and huge crowds have been paying respects to the late king's remains at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
His body will be cremated in an elaborate ceremony that may take place a year or more after his death.
The coronation ceremony for Prince Vajiralongkorn will take place only after the cremation.