Both the Bangkok Post and Khaosod report that the prince has “already accepted his appointment as a royal heir, but he requested time to deal with his grief and express his sadness alongside the people across the nation at this time…”.
Remarkably, the meeting of the National Legislative Assembly did not proclaim him king in its late night meeting on 13 October.
Update 1: This development is one that was not necessarily expected. Is it the successionist thesis playing out?
General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thailand’s Dictator, proclaimed: “Dear all Thai people, His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Ninth of His Dynasty, has passed away. Long live His Majesty the King of the New Reign.”
He added: “The government will inform the National Legislative Assembly that His Majesty the King, who is now residing in his royal coffin, has already designated an Heir Apparent in accordance with the Succession Law…”.
Remarkably, the NLA met, but only for 9 minutes of silence at 9 pm.
Prayuth then stated he had “been granted an audience with the crown prince, who told him he would like to take some time to grieve with the nation before accepting the invitation to become the new king.” He added: “His Royal Highness would like to wait for an appropriate time…”.
The Post reports this of the NLA: “the National Legislative Assembly acknowledged the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and its president will invite His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to ascend the throne by law and tradition shortly.”
It adds: “Constitutionally, the next step is for NLA president to invite HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to become the new king.” Further:
According to Section 23 of the 2007 constitution, when the throne becomes vacant and the king has already appointed his Heir under the 1924 Palace Law on Succession, the cabinet shall notify the Parliament president, who will convene members for acknowledgement.
The parliament president will then invite the Heir to ascend the throne and proclaim him King, according to the provision.
The question then arises: if he is not king, is there a regent? The law suggests that this should be the wily old schemer General Prem Tinsulanonda. However, at Khaosod, Prayuth adds this, as quoted in the original post above: “He [the prince] already accepted his appointment as a royal heir, but he requested time to deal with his grief and express his sadness alongside the people across the nation at this time…”.
Interesting times indeed.
Update 2: A story at The Nation appears to somewhat clarify this extraordinary situation. It states:
… Prince … Vajiralongkorn maintained yesterday that he was ready to step up as heir apparent to the throne, but would prefer to “wait for a proper time” as the country was still mourning the passing of … the King.
General Prayuth “quoted the Crown Prince’s remarks at a press conference held at Government House last night.” He said:
The Crown Prince prefers to join the entire nation in expressing his grief at this time. He asked that the process of accession to the throne be held back until a proper time….
He is aware of his duties as heir to the throne and will continue carrying out his Royal responsibilities in his capacity as Crown Prince…
Does this mean the prince acts as regent? Or is that Prem?
The press conference was held “after a joint meeting of the Cabinet, the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and National Legislative Assembly (NLA).”
The Nation then reminds its readers of how the prince became heir apparent.
NLA President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai the “NLA would not convene a normal meeting until relevant proceedings under the Royal Family Law on Succession to the Throne and the Constitution have been implemented.”
Clarified a bit, perhaps, but still remarkable and not at all clear at a very critical time.