- Title: Huge crowd of mourning Thais sing royal anthem in honour of late king
- Date: 22nd October 2016
- Summary: BANGKOK, THAILAND (OCTOBER 22, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE GATHERING IN FRONT OF GRAND PALACE
- Embargoed: 6th November 2016 09:35
- Keywords: Thailand king Bhumibol anthem mourners singing
- Location: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- City: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015535EMF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A huge crowd of Thais gathered on Saturday (October 22) outside Bangkok's Grand Palace to sing the royal anthem in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Oct. 13 after seven decades on the throne.
Police said more than 150,000 people were in Sanam Luang, a tree-lined open space in Bangkok that has been used for royal cremations outside the river-side Grand Palace, and side streets with more people expected through the day.
The government has declared a year of mourning for the 88-year old king, who was seen as a father figure for generations of people, and, though a constitutional monarch, a calming influence over the country's often turbulent politics.
People dressed in black travelled by bus, boat and on foot to attend the event which brought the area to gridlock well before the start of the singing.
The royal anthem, known as Sansoen Phra Barami, is played before the screening of every cinema show in Thailand, when the audience stands to honour the king as pictures of his life and work are shown on the screen.
Saturday's singing was recorded for use in cinemas, organisers said.
"We're here to express our loyalty (to the king). This song is often sung by singers and celebrities, but this time we ask the people to sing from their hearts," Prince Chatri Chalerm Yukol, a movie director in charge of the filming of the singing, told reporters.
Since the king died, people from across Thailand have flocked to the gilded Grand Palace to pay homage to the only king most of them have ever known, who is lying in state there.
"I never have thought this can happen (the king passed away). I want him to live another 100 years with happiness because he had done so much for his people," said 71-year-old Wanida Thongnopnua.
"I have to be here today to express my loyalty to him. He (the king) must look down (from heaven) and hope that one day people will be united," said 43-year-old Watcharapon Kerdpong.
Buddhist monks have been chanting prayers beside his coffin in an imposing throne hall, and they will chant for 100 days as part of the funeral rites.
The military government has not set a date for the royal cremation but it is expected in about a year.
The government has said Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will ascend the thrown soon but he had requested that his succession be delayed for an unspecified period, so he can grieve with the people.
The government has moved to quash uncertainty surrounding the succession and to reassure the country that the king's death will not derail plans for a return to democratic rule, which include a general election in late 2017.
It has stressed business and government should carry on as normal and tourism should not be affected.
The Grand Palace is a former royal residence that is used only on ceremonial occasions.
The royal anthem was the national anthem of what was then Siam until 1932, when young army officers and bureaucrats staged a coup to end absolute monarchy.
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