Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has returned to Bangkok to ascend the throne as King Rama X. Two days ago, the country's parliament said it had invited him to become the new king following the demise of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
According to reports, Vajiralongkorn will meet the head of parliament, Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, later on Thursday (1 December) evening. It has been 50 days since the revered king died and a Buddhist ritual has been planned to mark the day, following which the prince is expected to formally accept parliament's invitation to become the next king of Thailand.
The prince arrived in Bangkok from Germany, Reuters cited two senior military officials as saying. He has spent much of his adult life outside Thailand.
"We can confirm that His Majesty arrived safely this morning," a senior military official, who has knowledge of the matter, said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
A palace schedule said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Prem Tinsulanonda, a former head of the royal advisory council, who has also been standing in as regent, will be attending the ceremony on Thursday.
According to palace protocol, an official announcement from the royal family is expected soon after Vajiralongkorn accepts the invitation of parliament. The prince will be the 10th king of the 234-year-old Chakri Dynasty. However, an official ritual will take place only after King Bhumibok is cremated next year.
The prince will succeed his father, the late king, who had ruled for 70 years and was the longest reigning monarch of the world. He died on 13 October at the age of 88 after years of illness.
Vajiralongkorn's ascension is thought to allay the concerns of millions of Thais who feared the succession might not happen as planned. Earlier in October, Prayuth said the prince wanted to take time off to mourn his father's death along with the public.
Under Thai law, any insults or criticism of the royal family are considered a criminal act. Public discussions about the future of the monarchy or any criticism about the crown prince are prohibited.