Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn Crowned

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Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has been crowned on the first of three days of coronation rites.

King Vajiralongkorn inherited the throne in 2016 when his long-reigning father Bhumibol Adulyadej died.

Days ago in a surprise announcement the palace said the king had married his long-term partner and royal consort who would now be Queen Suthida.

Thailand has a constitutional monarchy, but the royal family is highly revered by Thais and wields considerable power.

Thailand also has strict laws, called lese majeste, which ban criticism of the monarchy. The laws have shielded the royal family from public view and scrutiny.

During Saturday’s ceremony the 66-year-old king was handed the 7.3kg (16lbs) Great Crown of Victory, which he placed on his head.

He then issued his first royal command, promising to reign with righteousness, as his father had done at his coronation 69 years ago.

The coronation comes at a time of political uncertainty. A general election was held on 24 March, the first since the army took control in a coup in 2014, but a new government has yet to be declared.

Who is the king?

King Vajiralongkorn is the second child, and first son, of Queen Sirikit and Bhumibol Adulyadej.

He was educated in the UK and Australia and has been trained at the Royal Military College in Canberra. He went on to become an officer in the Thai armed forces and is a qualified civilian and fighter pilot.

He became crown prince and official heir to the throne in 1972. He is now known as Rama X, or the 10th King of the Chakri dynasty.

Queen Suthida, who is his fourth wife, is the deputy commander of his personal security unit. She was made a full general in the army in December 2016.

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