Bangkok, Oct 24 (IANS) Thousands of Thai citizens on Tuesday camped outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok to attend the upcoming funeral of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last year at the age of 88.
The mourners came dressed in black and were equipped with umbrellas and mats for the late monarch’s funeral, scheduled to start on Wednesday, Efe news agency reported.
The King is to be cremated in a Buddhist ceremony on Thursday at the Sanam Luang square.
Some of the people arrived on Monday night and plan to remain until Sunday, when the five-day funeral programme is to conclude with the transfer of the sovereign’s ashes to the Rajabopit and Bowonniwet temples.
Some 250,000 to 300,000 people are expected to attend the funeral rites around the square, close to the Grand Palace, amid tight security.
A spokesperson for the funeral’s organising committee told Efe that around 58,000 police officers are to maintain security during the five-day programme in Bangkok and roads close to Sanam Luang will be closed for traffic.
Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Maxima of Netherlands, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Prince Andrew of England and members of various Asian monarchies are planning to be present on Wednesday to bid the Thai monarch farewell.
According to Thai authorities, more than 12 million people have visited the mortal remains of the King since they were opened to the public at the Grand Palace after his death on October 13 last year.
The monarch died in a Bangkok hospital after a year of illness, having ruled for seven decades, one of the longest reigns by a Thai King in history.