Coronation ceremony for Thai King: Latest updates

9:52 a.m. ET, May 4, 2019

Our live coverage of the Thai King's coronation has now ended. Read about what happened here, check out photos from first day of the three-day coronation here, and find out more about all the extravagant artifacts involved in today's ceremonies here.

6:22 a.m. ET, May 4, 2019

In photos: Thailand crowns its new King

The first day in Thailand's three-day coronation was full of elaborate outfits, ancient rituals and glittering objects.

Thailand's new King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the country's 10th king, underwent a royal purification ceremony with holy waters from around the country, received the symbolic nine-tiered umbrella, and rode on a golden palanquin.

Check out all the photos from the lavish celebrations here.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn during the royal purification abbot as part of the the coronation ceremony at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 4, 2019.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn during the royal purification abbot as part of the the coronation ceremony at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 4, 2019.

Public Relations Department, Thailand/Getty Images

5:57 a.m. ET, May 4, 2019

The King rides on a royal palanquin to his final event of the day

King Maha Vajiralongkorn is riding on a golden royal palanquin carried by men in orange outfits and golden helmets towards the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.

Soldiers in white and red uniforms are marching alongside the procession.

At the elaborate gold Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, King Vajiralongkorn is expected to proclaim himself the Royal Patron of Buddhism.

It's his last event on Saturday, the first day in his lavish three-day coronation.

The Thai King rides on the royal palanquin as part of his final event of the day.

The Thai King rides on the royal palanquin as part of his final event of the day.

Thailand’s Public Relations Department

4:50 a.m. ET, May 4, 2019

Who was Thailand's late King?

King Vajiralongkorn, 66, replaces his late father King Bhumibol, who died in 2016 after 70 years on the throne. At the time of his death, he was the world's longest reigning monarch.

King Bhumibol was widely loved and revered in Thailand where he was seen as a unifying force as the country lurched between political crises and military coups.

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit wave to thousands of people waiting outside the Royal Plaza to pay tribute to him on June 9, 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand, as the country began a five-day celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne.

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit wave to thousands of people waiting outside the Royal Plaza to pay tribute to him on June 9, 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand, as the country began a five-day celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne.

Pool-Getty images

In 1973, the King helped steer the country out of violent clashes between student demonstrators and military rulers.

In May 1992, amid violence between pro-democracy campaigners and the army, the King summoned the two leaders of the rival camps. His actions, which helped calm tensions and stop the violence, were seen as bolstering the King's moral authority.

But the twilight years of his reign were marred by political conflict, with the then-Prime Minister Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra deposed in a military coup in 2006, which was followed by another coup in 2014. Since then, the military junta has passed two constitutions shoring up its power and weakening its rivals. 

Check out more images from King Bhumibol's life here.

4:30 a.m. ET, May 4, 2019

Lese majeste: Thailand's most controversial law, explained

The crime of lese majeste -- insulting the royal family -- is a law enforced by monarchies around the globe. But few are stricter than Thailand.

Thailand stipulates harsh punishments for defaming or insulting the king or senior royals, and critics say it has stifled much-needed debate over the country's future.

Even someone in whose name it's invoked in has questioned it. The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej said in 2005 that "if the King can do no wrong, it is akin to looking down upon him, because the King is not being treated as a human being."

But that hasn't stopped there from being a huge spike in prosecutions in the last decade, with more than 400 cases in 2010 alone, according to Human Rights Watch.

Read more about Thailand's lese majeste rules here.

4:19 a.m. ET, May 4, 2019

Dressed all in gold, the King grants an audience from a giant gilded throne

In a gold robe, gold embroidered pants, and a gold 7.3-kilogram (16-pound) crown, King Maha Vajiralongkorn is granting an audience to key Thai leaders.

Officials are offering their best wishes as the newly crowned King sits elevated on his ornate gold throne, flanked by men holding gilded fans.

Members of the Royal Family, the Privy Council, and the Cabinet, as well as senior officials, have all gathered in the lavish Amarindra Vinicchaya Throne Hall at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

King Vajiralongkorn at Amarindra Vinicchaya Throne Hall

King Vajiralongkorn at Amarindra Vinicchaya Throne Hall

Thailand’s Public Relations Department

3:56 a.m. ET, May 4, 2019

Why Thailand's King is only just getting crowned

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne after his father's death in 2016 -- so why is he only just getting crowned?

The almost three-year gap between the late King's death and the coronation ceremony isn't unusual, said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a Thai political scientist at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. King Vajiralongkorn needed time to grieve his father and prepare for the event.

"The official enthronement will solidify kingship and enhance his aura as the new king," said Thitinan.

The coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1950

The coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1950

Fair use

King Vajiralongkorn won't get any significant additional powers, but he will now be seen as a fully-fledged King.

Prior to his coronation, King Vajiralongkorn sat on a throne beneath a seven-tiered umbrella, but he's now become the only person in Thailand permitted to sit on a on a throne beneath a sacred nine-tiered umbrella, which represents the King's connection with heaven.