Bangkok (AP) — Tens of thousands of mourners have been rushing to Bangkok’s Grand Palace to pay their respects to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, as a period of nearly a year for his body to lie in state ends ahead of his cremation on Oct. 26.
Since the revered monarch’s death last Oct. 13 at age 88, more than 12 million people have visited the golden Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, where his coffin is kept behind a symbolic royal urn. The hall was closed to visitors at midnight Thursday.
The throne hall has been kept open 24 hours a day since last Saturday to accommodate the high number of last-minute mourners. Officials said the palace received over 96,000 visitors Wednesday, a record number for one day.
One group of visitors said they had waited outside the palace walls from 9 p.m. Wednesday until Thursday morning. But the wait did not faze most mourners, who still feel distraught over the loss of their beloved king nearly a year after his death.
“I still can’t accept it. Every time I think about this, I feel so sad,” Watchiraporn Daengsomboon said as she lined up outside the palace Thursday. “Today, I’ve come to pay my respects for the last time. We won’t have this chance again.”
King Bhumibol was succeeded by his son, current King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarankun, who will preside over commemoration ceremonies on the anniversary of his father’s death. That will be followed by an elaborate royal cremation ceremony from Oct. 25 to 29.
The crematorium, situated on a public field near the palace, is a representation of mystical Mount Meru, where gods reside according to Buddhist and Hindu legends.