BANGKOK — Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej died Thursday aged 88, plunging the nation into unprecedented mourning for the beloved monarch who held the throne for seven decades.
A look at the latest developments Saturday:
GRAND PALACE CLOSES BUT CROWDS REMAIN
Thais in their thousands, dressed in somber black and white, descended on the Grand Palace in Bangkok to pay respects to Bhumibol, whose remains were transferred in a motorcade Friday from Siriraj Hospital to the palace’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew.
Police announced midmorning that the palace was closed for seven days. Still, most people waiting remained outside and authorities soon announced entry would be allowed into the Sala Sahathai Samakhom Hall as a place to pay respects for limited hours in the afternoon.
96-YEAR-OLD REGENT HEADS MONARCHY UNTIL NEW KING IS CROWNED
Thailand’s government says a regent will be the caretaker of the monarchy while the country mourns the death of King Bhumibol.
The government on Thursday unexpectedly announced that the heir apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, did not want to be immediately named king to give the nation time to mourn his father’s death.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam appeared on television Friday evening to specifically explain that the head of the Privy Council, which is an advisory body to the king, is automatically the regent until a new monarch is crowned.
There was no official statement that the council’s head, 96-year-old Prem Tinsulanonda, had been named regent, creating uncertainty, but Wissanu said an announcement wasn’t needed because the process is mandated by Thailand’s Constitution.
Prem, a former prime minister, was one of Bhumibol’s principal confidants and has ties to Bhumibol’s popular daughter, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
RED-LIGHT DISTRICTS CLOSE, CONCERTS CANCELED
Bangkok’s seedy red-light districts have closed for the first time in years as the government urged businesses to tone down the entertainment while the nation mourns the king’s death.
Also canceled: a sold-out concert featuring British singer Morrissey, the former frontman of The Smiths.
In the northern city of Chiang Mai, the city government announced the annual Yi Peng Festival set for mid-November — in which tens of thousands of lanterns float into the sky — has been scrapped.
On the island of Koh Phangan, organizers of the renowned “Full Moon” party, which had been set to begin Oct. 17, called the event off.
However, the closures and cancellations are unlikely to last more than a month or have any serious long-term impact on tourism.