King and Queen welcomed by mourners as they pay homage to late monarch at Grand Palace
THE King and the Queen of Bhutan yesterday paid their respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of his body in the Grand Palace’s Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, stressing the strengthened ties between their country and Thailand.
Some among the crowd of mourners said they felt blessed and grateful to King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Her Majesty Jetsun Pema Wangchuck for wholeheartedly respecting and joining the Thai people in mourning the tragic loss of their revered King.
The royal couple, along with their son, eight-month-old Crown Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, arrived in Thailand on Saturday and were welcomed by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.
The 36-year-old King and his Queen, 26, were accompanied by a motorcade and arrived at the Grand Palace around 10am. The King prostrated himself and offered a wreath in front of the body as a gesture of his “deepest respect” to the late King.
The Bhutanese monarch also expressed his respect for the King on his official Facebook page, saying: “To the Incomparable, Visionary and Most Precious Jewel King, the King of Thailand, who attained Parinirvana, I would like to offer my deepest respect, and my heartfelt prayers. May Your Majesty always be born as Dharma Raja, to the benefit of all sentient beings.”
After about 20 minutes, the King left the Grand Palace, waving to the people through an open car window.
Many among the crowd shouted “Long live the King” as the motorcade passed. Some said they loved and felt blessed to welcome the king and queen.
“My hair stood on end when I saw the King of Bhutan wave his hands and give the wai greeting to us. The King of Bhutan is courteous and, like King Bhumibol, he loves and takes care of his people,” said Manikan Kaewsuriwong, a 44-year-old Bangkok businesswoman.
Manikan had come to the Grand Palace for three days in a row since Friday to pay her respects to the King.
“I come here today to sign a book of condolence and welcome the Bhutanese king. He is respectful. It is amazing to see how much the monarch respected our beloved King,” said Sudarat Thaikasem, a 31-year-old corporate employee who was joined by her mother and sister.
The Bhutanese monarch’s deep respect to the King has been highlighted since Wednesday when His Majesty’s health condition was announced as being |unstable.
He ordered special prayers to be |performed throughout the Himalayan kingdom for the King’s speedy recovery.
Following the King’s death on Thursday, the Bhutan monarch declared the next day as a national holiday and day of mourning in Bhutan. He and his royal family led their people in offering 1,000 butter lamps and prayers in remembrance of the late King.
Thai people have taken the Bhutanese king to their hearts since 2006 when, as crown prince, attended the celebrations in Bangkok marking the 60th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne.
Despite five hours of heavy rain from 11am to 4pm, people had waited in long lines to enter Sala Sahathai Samakhome Pavilion inside the Grand Palace’s complex to sign the book of condolence in front of the King’s portrait.
The black-clad mourners, many with colourful umbrellas, kept waiting for their turn to enter the Grand Palace until 4pm when the Viset Chaisri Gate closed. A number of people left without having a chance to sign the condolence book.
“Though my turn did not come today, I will return again next weekend. It is fine, as I come here with my heart and I am willing to return to pay respects to my beloved King,” said Tanachot Kaewpradap, a 19-year-old law student at Thammasart University.
Around Sanam Luang, the Royal Lawn in front of the Grand Palace, food trucks and small stalls provided free meals and drinks to mourners.