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The funeral proceedings to bid farewell to HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda have begun with thousands taking part. The princess was the only child of former king, Rama VI, and a cousin of Thailand’s present monarch, HM Bhumibol Adulayadej (Rama IX). The princess died last July at the age of 85. When such prominent people pass away in Thailand it isn’t unusual for the cremation to take place a long time after the actual death. This allows time for appropriate arrangements to be made, an auspicious date and time to be chosen and for the various merit-making ceremonies which, in Buddhist belief, help the deceased in their next life. Since her death, the princess has been lying in state at the Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall which is located within the Grand Palace compound in Bangkok. The last major royal funeral ceremony in Thailand was for the king’s sister, HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, which took place in November 2008.

The day will begin at 7am when the royal urn is carried from Dusit Maha Prasart Hall atop the royal golden palanquin to an area in front of Wat Phra Chetupon, or Wat Pho.

There, the urn will be transferred to the Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot, or royal chariot, for the one-and-a-half-hour procession to Sanam Luang.

The chariot was built from gilded teak wood during the reign of King Rama I, and was used for the funeral of Her Royal Highness The Princess Mother and Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana. It weighs around 13 tonnes and requires 216 men to pull.

The chariot will set off along Sanam Chai Road towards Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

When it arrives at Sanam Luang, the urn will be returned to the palanquin for the third and final procession.

The palanquin will circumnavigate the phra meru, or royal funeral pyre, three times, with each lap covering 260 metres, before the urn is placed on the pyre.

Members of the public wishing to pay their respects may leave paper and sandalwood flowers for the cremation at 4pm at five points around Sanam Luang and at 46 temples in Bangkok.

The ceremonial cremation will go ahead at 4:30pm, followed by the more private official cremation at 10pm and a programme of cultural events for the public through the night.

The funeral is the culmination of about eight months of work by the Fine Arts Department and Religious Affairs Department, which allocated a budget of 218.1 million baht for the preparations and ceremony.

Princess Bejaratana was the only child of King Vajiravudh, Rama VI, and Phra Nang Chao (Queen) Suvadhana.

Her royal father, seriously ill at the time, passed away just one day after the princess was born, and it was her grandmother, Queen Savang Vadhana, who took the baby princess under her wing.

The princess spent much of her formative years in the United Kingdom after the 1932 revolution which toppled the absolute monarchy and led to the abdication of her uncle, King Prajadhipok. By the time she returned to Thailand in 1959, her cousin, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was on the throne.

She spent the rest of her life at Ruenrudi Villa, working on behalf of various charitable organisations and projects that were established and initiated by her royal father as well as her grandmother, Queen Savang Vadhana, with her mother constantly by her side.

Princess Galyani Vadhana of Thailand

(6 May 1923 – 2 January 2008) was a Princess of Thailand and the elder sister of King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) and King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). She was also a direct granddaughter of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

Funeral Temple of Princess Galyani Vadhana

The ceremonies for the Princess, the full mourning period runs from 13th to 19th November. After the mourning is over, the funeral temple, temporarily constructed at Sanam Luang by the Grand Palace after months of work by hundreds of craftsmen, will be demolished. Onlookers can only see the temple from the pavement that runs around the oval parade ground, as it is shut to the public.

Thousands of mourners turned out to watch the ceremony, which came a day after more than 100,000 Thais attended the lavish US$8.9 million (S$13.5 million) cremation of the princess, the elder sister of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. On Saturday 15, 3 processions (from the royal throne hall, where she had lain in state for 10 months) were composed of 3,294 soldiers, flanked by conch shell-blowers, drummers and musicians. Two of the processions involved Phra Yannamas Sam Lam Khan, an 18th century, seven metric ton palanquin carried by 60 men. The two-century-old sweet-smelling sandalwood golden teak urn hold Galyani’s remains in upright position, on top of an elaborately decorated 14-ton golden carriage Phra Maha Phichai Ratcharot.

Both dressed in white ceremonial dress, Maha Vajiralongkorn, Crown Prince of Thailand and Somchai Wongsawat, inter alia, took part in the procession, in Sanam Luang parade ground. In Uttaradit, black-dressed Thais flocked to the royally-sponsored Wat Klong Poh in the provincial sea to place 400,000 sandalwood flowers at the crematorium. At 10 pm Saturday, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will, with the help of a hydraulic tappet, set light to a 40m (130ft) high funeral pyre, modeled on Mount Meru. The $5.7m (£3.8m) temporary royal crematorium, a complex of pavilions, constructed on the Sanam Luang parade ground 7 months, had been lavishly decorated with flowers, garlands and carved banana stalks. Soldiers pulled the royal chariot carrying the funeral urn slowly past the Grand Palace to Sanam Luang, as Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and Princess Sirindhorn followed, paying final respects to their aunt. After the cremation, the funeral buildings will be torn down, as reminders of a beloved royal’s death. Galyani’s spirit will then return home to Mount Meru, where all deities eternally live, per Hindu beliefs.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s only sister, Princess Wattana, who died from cancer in January at age 84, is mourned by millions in Thailand.

The elaborate funeral, nearly a year in the making, involves thousands of soldiers in dress uniform and a gilded, ornate crematorium.

This majestic tribute, Thais believe, befits the princess’ place in the revered monarchy.

The king and queen will preside over the actual cremation in a private ceremony.

Thousands of people came, bearing offerings of sandalwood, and lining up to pay their final respects. Those who were not able to be at Sanam Luang will have an opportunity to pay their respects at monasteries around the country.

A group of women had journeyed from Chumpon Province in the south on an overnight trip to attend the funeral.

One of the woman said: “I loved the princess because she was down-to-earth… I came to lay sandalwood flowers below her portrait.”

A member of the public said: “She worked very hard for people, so that made me want to attend this funeral… to pay a final tribute.”

Another said: “As a Thai, I am proud of the small part I can play by coming to her funeral.”
Is the first full royal funeral since 1996, when the king’s mother Srinagarindra was cremated. It had been performed for only four royals in Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 62-year reign. A rare glimpse of the pageantry of the House of Chakri, the royal funeral tradition dated back to Ayuthaya period is influenced by 1,000-year-old India’s Hindu traditions that treat kings as incarnations or descendants of deities and Buddhism’s merit-making ceremonies. The 6-day funeral ceremony and ritual officially started on Friday November 14, 2008, at the Grand Palace, and terminates on November 19 when Galyani’s ashes will be transferred to a nearby temple.

Posted by Evgo