Bangkok: A 96-year-old confidant of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej has been formally confirmed as the regent to manage the throne in the place of the crown prince and heir apparent, but it wasn’t clear how long the caretaker arrangement would last. Prem Tinsulanonda will stand in as regent while the country grieves over the death of the king, the government said on Sunday.
In a speech late Saturday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chanocha said Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn invited him and Tinsulanonda as the temporary regent for an audience to discuss the situation “as his royal highness was deeply concerned for the Thai people during this time of national bereavement.”
Prem heads the Privy Council, a body of advisers to the monarchy, and was the closest adviser of Bhumibol. He is also known to be close to Bhumibol’s highly popular daughter Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. “His highness’s only wish is to not let the people experience confusion or worry about the service of the land or even the ascension to the throne because this issue has the constitution, the royal laws and royal traditions to dictate it,” Prayuth said in his message broadcast on television.
The 64-year-old crown prince implores everyone to help each other get through the grief first before thinking of his ascension to the throne, Prayuth said.
The government has said the Crown Prince wants to grieve with the people and leave the formal succession until later, when parliament will invite him to ascend the throne.
Meanwhile, deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Privy Council, the royal advisory board, will choose a new president among themselves now that their chief, Prem, has become the regent.
“When the regent is relieved of duty, he will be reinstated as president of the Privy Council automatically without the need for a royal appointment,” Wissanu explained.
He said late King Bhumibol already appointed his heir on December 28, 1972 so there was no question as to who is going to be the new king. The steps to be taken are just a formality, he said....