King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s successor Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has granted his sister Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn authority over the late king’s funeral pyre. The princess will make the final decisions about the design and construction of the pyre, known as a Phra Meru, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam announced Monday.
Funeral arrangements in Thai tradition are much more elaborate than those in Western culture, especially for someone as revered as the king. A Phra Meru is often the most complicated and embellished part of a funeral ceremony and as such is a significant responsibility.
The Grand Palace is expecting an enormous amount of mourners to visit the palace to pay their respects from Saturday through Monday. In addition to the Phra Meru, other structures such as royal pavilions for mourners and monks need to be constructed. Pavilion building is being overseen by the Grand Palace’s Fine Arts Department. Arrangements for the funeral ceremony are expected to be finalized when the cabinet meets Tuesday, the Bangkok Post reported. The cabinet will also decide how best to accommodate the expected crowds.
King Bhumibol will not be cremated until the national mourning period, which ends about one year after his death was announced. The monarchy is aiding the Thai people as they mourn their king and has released suggestions for how to respectfully grieve.
“It’s not the time to criticize whose wrong,” Wissanu said. “We should not criticize those who are not wearing black. We all feel the same.”
The Education Ministry has opened various places throughout Bangkok where mourners are shown how to dye their clothes black. Thais were urged to continue calling the late king by his proper name and to continue referring to him as “His Majesty.”
King Bhumibol died Oct. 13 at the age of 88 after battling illness for a decade. He was the world’s longest reigning monarch, having ruled Thailand for 70 years.