Thailand's cabinet has acknowledged the appointment of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to succeed his late father as the new king. He has been formally invited by the president of the parliament to ascend to the throne.
"The prime minister's secretary will notify the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)," deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters on Tuesday after hosting a brief meeting Thailand's cabinet. "I expect the NLA president could be granted a royal audience either tomorrow or the day after."
According to procedure, the prince will have to now accept to the president's invitation to finally be proclaimed king. Vajiralongkorn is expected to fly back to Bangkok from Germany, where he spends most of his time, for an audience with the president later this week.
Once he accepts the invitation, the prince will be formally known as King Rama X - the 10th king of the 234-year-old Chakri Dynasty. He can only be crowned, however, following his father's cremation, which is scheduled to take place next year.
Vajiralongkorn's appointment put to rest any uncertainties concerning over the Thai monarchy's succession. Tough lese majeste laws - which criminalize anything deemed to be an insult to the monarchy - have made the public reluctant to speculate over matters concerning the royal family.
However, Vajiralongkorn has spent most of his adult life abroad and does not generally command the same devotion his father did.
Concerns were also raised after prince had reportedly asked Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to delay the succession to grieve with the public. However, Vajiralongkorn's proclamation is now expected to go ahead as soon as this week.
A nation mourns
Vajiralongkorn's endorsement comes several weeks after former king Bhumibol Adulyadej died, plunging the country into a period of intense mourning. His death marked the end of a seven-decade long reign, making him the longest serving head of state in the world.
As the kingdom saw decades of violent of conflict and military rule, Bhumibol's reign often served to stabilize the highly divided region.
Thailand's government announced last week that will begin building a funeral pyre for the late king next year, with some 8,000 people expected to be involved in the cremation ceremony.
dm/kl (Reuters, AFP, dpa)