Thailand celebrates king's 66th birthday

The king of Thailand has turned 66 and many locals paid tribute to him by undergoing Buddhist rites.

Thailand has celebrated King Maha Vajiralongkorn's 66th birthday with Buddhist rites.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha led 3,500 government officials and members of the public in giving alms to 670 Buddhist monks from across Bangkok at an open field close to the Grand Palace early in the day.

Throughout Thailand, people flocked to temples to pray and give alms to monks in yellow shirts, the colour signifying loyalty to the monarchy.

Almsgiving is a typical practice in Thailand where the majority of the population are Buddhists.

It signifies an auspicious beginning of the year for those celebrating their birthdays.

The only son of late king Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October 2016 after seven decades on the throne, King Maha Vajiralongkorn has made several moves to assert political influence and consolidate power within the palace.

In mid-June, he was granted full ownership of the Crown Property Bureau, which holds combined assets of up to 30 billion dollars, making him the richest monarch in the world.

There has not yet been a coronation ceremony for Vajiralongkorn and the timing remains unknown.

Prayut said in June that much-awaited elections will be held after the coronation, leading to uncertainty if the elections can be held early next year as promised.

The ruling military regime has postponed the elections at least four times since coming into power in a May 2014 coup, citing the need to ensure smooth royal succession and complete national reforms.

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