Thailand's day of mourning for late King Adulyadej

  • 15/10/2016
Thailand's day of mourning for late King Adulyadej

In the sultry heat of a Bangkok afternoon, the convoy bearing the body of King Bhumipol Adulyadej made the short journey from the hospital where he died to the Grand Palace, accompanied by his heir apparent.

As tributes flowed in from around the world, tens of thousands of his tear-streaked, grief-stricken subjects lined the route, kneeling in reverence.

Down by the magnificent Grand Palace complex gathered a multitude so vast, it was impossible to move.

The mood was black. This was not the state-mandated mourning you'd see in North Korea. For Thais, it's personal, genuine bereavement - it's as though they've lost their father.

Earlier, many had taken part in Buddhist funeral bathing rites, including Thailand's military ruler. Over 70 years, King Bhumipol had been a constant, as governments came and went.

The day was declared a national mourning holiday, after most had already gone to work. But as they mourned, a problem emerged, an unexpected turn - Thailand is today a kingdom without a king.

A couple of days ago, a constitutional explained it's like in the United Kingdom, where "the king is dead, long live the king" coronation is merely a formality. But Thailand's heir apparent apparently wants to wait.

It's not clear why, but strict lese majeste laws that are rigorously enforced, criminalise public speculation.

During the night, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the bathing of his father's body in the palace.

He's not loved like his father was. On Friday, he would have seen just how deep that love was.

Channel Four