Thai King Bhumibol: Mourners allowed into Grand Palace

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Media captionMourners formed long queues to enter the Grand Palace on Saturday

Thousands of mourners are being allowed to enter the throne hall of Bangkok's Grand Palace where the body of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is lying in state.

Crowds have gathered outside the palace since the king died two weeks ago, but it is the first time they have been allowed to see his coffin.

Authorities say 10,000 mourners will be allowed into the throne hall each day.

Official mourning for the king is to last a year.

"I have been waiting here since 01:00," said 84-year-old Saman Daoruang, who was sitting in a long queue outside the palace holding portraits of the late monarch.

"I haven't been able to sleep because I was so thrilled and proud to come here."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many carried pictures of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The king was widely revered by his subjects

Many mourners wiped away tears as they left the Grand Palace.

King Bhumibol, who died aged 88, was widely respected across Thailand and was thought of by many as semi-divine.

So far there has been no word on when Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will formally ascend the throne. The government says he wants time to mourn the death of his father.

Nation absorbed by memories - By Jonathan Head, BBC News, Bangkok

This morning a thick line of black-clad people stretched across and around the huge royal park next to the Grand Palace.

The authorities say they will allow just 10,000 a day to view the elaborate gilded urn in which in older times the king's remains would have been interred - King Bhumibol requested that his body be placed in a coffin instead, which is concealed behind the urn.

Many more people are expected to come, straining the resources outside the palace: new toilets are hastily being built and rubbish disposal is proving to be a challenge.

Images of the late king are everywhere in this city - screens at train stations and shopping malls play continuous reruns of old films showing him at work.

The first stage of official mourning is due to end in two weeks, and life is supposed to return to normal.

But with the heir to the throne still not formally anointed the country is absorbed by memories and prolonged grieving for the old king, whose cremation won't take place for at least a year.

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