November 21, 2016 / 8:12 AM / 2 years ago

Thailand to begin building late king's funeral pyre next year

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand will begin building the funeral pyre for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last month at the age of 88, next year, the government said on Monday, adding 8,000 people will be involved in the cremation ceremony.

A man carries an infant as he walks past a collage of pictures of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej during an exhibition held in his honour at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) in Bangkok, Thailand, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

The king, the world’s longest reigning monarch, ruled for seven decades and was seen by many Thais as a stabilizing force through an era of rapid change and social upheaval in the country.

Daily Buddhist funeral rites have been held for the king at the Grand Palace in Bangkok but a royal cremation will not take place for at least another year.

Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn said a committee had been set up to oversee construction of the king’s cremation pyre in a public square in front of the palace.

“Building is expected to be completed before September 2017 but it depends on the weather,” Thanasak told reporters, adding that up to 8,000 people will take part in the cremation ceremony.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has made clear that the king’s only son and designated heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, will inherit the throne, though there is still no date for when he will officially succeed his father.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Nick Macfie

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