More than a month after King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, Thailand officially has a new monarch. Bhumibol’s son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn formally accepted an invitation from the nation’s parliament to serve as king Thursday. The prince, 64, will now be known as King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.
“I would like to accept the invitation for the benefit of the Thai people,” he said in a televised statement Thursday. The president of Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly, Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, met Vajiralongkorn at Bangkok’s Dusit Palace to offer him the kingship. He will be the tenth king of the Thailand’s Chakri Dynasty.
Bhumibol died in October at the age of 88. The former king had spent much of the last decade ill and out of the public eye. Officially crowned in May 1950, he was the world’s longest-serving monarch. Bhumibol was a beloved figure in Thailand, a trait not inherited by his son.
Many Thai’s are wary of what Vajiralongkorn’s ascendance to the throne may bring to an already unstable time for the country. A career army officer and fighter pilot, Vajiralongkorn was viewed as an eccentric playboy while prince. He divorced his third wife in 2014. Vajiralongkorn also has ties to ousted former prime minister and billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra who was accused of corruption and exiled in 2006.
“In a society that attaches celestial importance to the throne and largely views the monarchy as a force preserving Thai culture and values, the prince is thus seen as exceedingly unfit for kinship,” Strategic Forecasting, Inc. wrote in an analysis of Thailand’s political landscape in 2015.
Vajiralongkorn’s coronation will not occur until after the former king has been cremated next year.
“May all the Thai people unite to pray that the powers of King Bhumibol and past kings protect the new king so that he may reign as an idol and guardian of the Thai people,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.