Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away peacefully on the Thursday, 13th October 2016, at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. King Bhumibol was much loved by the Thai people and was the world’s longest reigning monarch. He was coronated in 1946 at the age of 18 and was the Thai constitutional monarch for seven decades.
The King’s passing will be recognised with flags flying at half-mast for 30 days and the country will observe a year of mourning. His body will lie at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, inside the Grand Palace complex for an undisclosed duration. No date has been set for the cremation. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will ascend the throne, however he has requested time to mourn with the country before his coronation.
While the Thai nation is in mourning, the government has requested that “joyful events” are avoided and that the public not hold any “entertainment activities” during the month. Sombre, black or dark, clothing will be worn by the Thai nation during the mourning period and visitors to the country are advised to do the same.
If you have already planned your diving holiday to Thailand, there should be no reason to change your plans. Along with your dive gear, sun block and guidebooks, it is more important than ever to pack some cultural sensitivity. The advice for UK citizens, “if possible, wear sombre and respectful clothing when in public; check local media regularly and follow the advice of the local authorities”. “Access to entertainment, including restaurants, bars, and shopping areas may be restricted and you should behave respectfully when in public areas,” says the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). There may be some disruption of commercial and public services, especially during the next 30 days. Thailand’s lese majeste laws are among the strictest in the world. The Dutch foreign ministry also reminds travelers to Thailand to avoid any “declarations or discussions critical of the royal family”.
During your diving vacation to Thailand be respectful in dress and conversation when in public areas, keep updated with local announcements and seek confirmation on appropriate attire in resorts and on liveaboards.