Thai King funeral: Prince Andrew among mourners attending $90m five-day service

As part of a five-day cremation ceremony, the new king of Thailand, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, today led his father’s ashes through the streets of Bangkok.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners turned out to pay their last respects to King Bhumibol who died aged 88 last year.  

Following last night’s cremation in the Thai capital, today the new King picked parts of his late father’s charred remains to be enshrined as relics.

Huge numbers of mourners sobbed and cried aloud as they saw the smoke rise from the crematorium as part of the $90 million service.

The late King’s remains were then returned to the palace, led by King Maha Vajiralongkorn who then sprinkled sacred water on the bones.

The head of the order of Buddhist monks, Thailand’s Supreme Patriarch, then blessed the remains, before the bones were taken to the Grand Palace, where he has lain in state since his death in October 2016.

King Bhumibol was a popular figure among the Thai people, with many referring to him as ‘father’. 

This was reflected on social media, with popular hashtags such as #rama9, #kingofkings, and #thegreatestking. 

Boonpherm Buatho, 56, a housekeeper, said: “I can’t express my sadness at the loss. It’s like a child longing for a parent.”

Thursday’s ceremony saw many businesses in the country cease trading as they took time to honour the late king.

King Bhumibol ascended to the throne in 1946 at the age of 18, despite being raised in Switzerland, after his elder brother Ananda Mahidol was shot dead.

Four years later, he was crowned and inherited a monarchy whose power was steadily declining but by the time of his death that had turned around.

The late king leaves behind one of the richest monarchies in the world, with the palace at the centre of Thailand’s power networks.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a politics professor at Chulalongkorn University, said: “Thailand needed a king as rallying and unifying symbol and a young king found a people to rebuild a kingdom around.”

Many crucial moments in Thai history took place during his seven-decade span on the throne, including a regional financial crisis, a crackdown on student protesters and a number of natural disasters.