For anyone who has visited or lived in Thailand over the past few decades, they fully understand the importance of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. As the country’s ruling monarch for 70 years, he was credited for ushering in a wave of peace and relative prosperity to the people of Thailand. Which is why, after he passed away last year at the age of 88, the Southeast Asian country spent 12 months in mourning. Today, that mourning will come to rest in the most spectacular of ways: by setting fire to a structure within a $90 million complex which holds the remains of the late king.
On Wednesday (EST) in Bangkok, the former ruling monarch will be cremated before millions of onlookers. In order to provide their much-beloved king a proper farewell, the country spent an entire year preparing for this moment. That included the creation of a vast cremation complex near the Grand Palace, where the late king ruled. The cremation will begin when King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the late monarch’s son, will set flame to a part of the structure. Designed by architect Theerachat Weerayuttanon and art technician Korkiat Thongphut, the nine-spired structure consists of golden pavilions adorned by thousands of elaborate sculptures, textiles, artworks, and flowers. Much of the pieces that have been installed around the complex have to do with the king’s successes during his reign, such as agricultural advancements. In an interview with the local publication, BK Magazine, the duo explained how they began creating the design a few hours after they heard of the king’s passing. “We were crying while making the designs,” Thongphut explained. “We wanted to believe he hadn’t passed away but had to face the truth and do our duty.”
While the cremation will begin today, the ceremony will last through the week, as members of the royal family and dignitaries from more than 40 countries will attend the event. When the celebration comes to an end, the king’s ashes will be collected and transported back to the palace where they will remain.