Thais bid final goodbye to beloved King Bhumibol

26 October 2017
Thais bid final goodbye to beloved King Bhumibol
Thai mourners hold pictures of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they wait for the royal cremation ceremony outside the Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, 26 October 2017. Photo: Diego Azubel/EPA-EFE

A sea of black-clad mourners massed across Bangkok's historic heart early Thursday as funeral rituals began for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a revered monarch whose passing after a seven-decade reign.
As dawn broke an estimated 200,000 Thais had gathered around the Grand Palace to bid an emotional farewell to a monarch known as "father of the nation", silently packing the pavements, many clutching portraits of the beloved late king.
The golden spires of a spectacular cremation site, purpose-built for the funeral, were bathed in light as Bhumibol's son and heir, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, joined Buddhist monks to start a day of sombre processions, colourful pageantry and religious ceremony.
Vajiralongkorn will light the funeral pyre at 10pm (1500 GMT) as his father, Rama IX of the Chakri dynasty, is laid to rest.