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Coronation of Thailand's king set for May 2019

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Thailand's 66-year-old King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne following his father's death in October 2016, which ended a tumultuous seven-decade reign over the South-east Asian kingdom.

Bangkok

AN elaborate three-day coronation ceremony for Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn will be held in early May, more than two and half years after the death of his revered father Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The 66-year-old ascended the throne following his father's death in October 2016, which ended a tumultuous seven-decade reign over the South-east Asian kingdom marked by coups and rounds of violent street protests.

King Vajiralongkorn, formally known as Rama X of the Chakri dynasty, has since dramatically reorganised palace affairs.

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He has bolstered his own security detail and granted himself personal stewardship of the crown's multi-billion dollar assets, which include swathes of prime real estate and major investments in banks and companies.

Thailand's monarchy - one of the world's richest - is shielded from criticism by a harsh royal defamation law punishing any transgressors with up to 15 years per charge.

It is also butressed by the conservative, ultra-royalist army which has ruled Thailand since seizing power in 2014, banning protests and political rallies, but which has pledged to restore elections early this year.

In a televised announcement, the Royal Household Bureau said the coronation will take place between May 4 and 6.

"It's a suitable time to hold the coronation in accordance to the tradition and for national celebration and joy of the people," the bureau said.

The "coronation ceremony" will be held on May 4 with an audience granted to "the royal family, privy councillors and Cabinet members", it explained.

The following day a ceremony will "bestow the royal name" according to traditions governing the monarchy, then on May 6 the king will hold a "grand audience" with members of the public and diplomats.

Frank discussion of Thailand's monarchy is off-limits in Thailand, where all Thai-based media must self-censor to avoid falling foul of the broadly interpreted lese majeste laws.

Convictions under the law soared during the initial years of military rule but have eased since King Vajiralongkorn ascended to the throne, with charges in several high-profile cases also dropped. AFP