BANGKOK, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Thailand's King Maha
Vajiralongkorn on Wednesday presided over a ceremony marking the
end of the construction of the royal crematorium that will be
used in the funeral of his father, the late King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, on Oct. 26.
The king blessed and then raised the Nine-Tiered Great White
Umbrella of State, the most sacred regalia of the Thai monarchy,
to the top of the lavish crematorium - the main site of the
royal funeral that was built from scratch on an open space in
front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok's old quarter.
Artisans have worked for 10 months to build the site that
includes eight structures decorated with ornaments of various
gods and goddesses, mimicking a vision of heaven in
Bhramin-Buddhist traditions of Thailand's royal court.
Hundreds of thousands of black-clad mourners are expected to
camp for days near the palace to observe the five-day funeral
ceremony, a last goodbye to much-loved King Bhumibol who reigned
over Thailand from 1946 until his death on Oct. 13, 2016.
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said at least 30 foreign
dignitaries will attend the royal cremation and the number could
The dignitaries who have confirmed their attendance include
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan, Queen Maxima of
the Netherlands, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Crown Prince Haakon
of Norway, Japan's Prince Akishino, Australia's Governor General
Sir Peter Cosgrove and Singapore's President Halimah Yacob.
About 12 million people, or almost one sixth of Thailand's
population, have paid their respects to the late king, queuing
up to visit the Grand Palace where he has been lying-in-state.
Oct. 26 has been declared a national holiday. That night,
more than 3,000 performers will join a final tribute of music
and puppet shows to end a year of mourning.
(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by
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