THAILAND ROYALTY KING.jpg
The convoy of vehicles carrying the body of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej crosses the Pin Klao bridge as it travels towards the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand 14 October 2016.
Photograph: EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

Former Thai prime minister and Head of Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda has assumed the role of regent for the country's vacant throne in accordance with the constitution, the Thai government confirmed late Friday. 

Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krua-ngam said that according to the country's 1991 constitution, the current head of the privy council automatically assumes the role of regent pro tempore in the event of the absence of a ruling monarch.

Prem, 96, has been the head of the privy council that advises the king since his appointment in 1988, following his time in office as prime minister between 1980 and 1988. 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters Thursday that Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn wanted to delay being proclaimed king so that he can join Thais in mourning the death of his father.

"He requested time to deal with his grief and express his sadness alongside the people across the nation at this time," Prayut told local media.

On Saturday, mourners dressed in black gathered in front of the grand palace in Bangkok as the royal funeral rites proceeded.

Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the morning funeral rituals, including prayers and breakfast, at the palace.

In the afternoon, the palace was opened so that mourners could sign a condolence book, local media reported.  

Royal funeral rites are scheduled for 100 days, the Royal Household Bureau confirmed, however no date for the cremation was given.

The grand palace remains closed to tourists for seven days, the Royal Household Bureau and the Tourism Authority of Thailand said.

Thailand plans to observe 100 days of official ceremonies and religious rites and mourn the death of their beloved monarch for one year.

The government Friday asked the public to suspend celebrations and festive activities for 30 days in the wake of the king's death, with several social events being cancelled.

Popular entertainment areas of Bangkok were noticeably less patronised Friday night as businesses were uncertain about what constituted "celebrations and festive activities."

No official alcohol ban was issued, however some local stores voluntarily restricted sales.

Thailand's tourism authority issued recommendations for overseas visitors in this time of mourning.

Visitors were also advised to refrain from "any inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour" during the time of heightened sensitivity.

Thai television channels resumed their regular broadcasts Saturday morning after being suspended. Historical footage of the late king's biography and documentaries was played on all television channels, including foreign ones, as soon as the prime minister announced the king's death.

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