Thailand's crown prince returns from abroad for official duties: sources

November 11, 2016 12:13 AM EST

Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attends an event commemorating the death of King Chulalongkorn, known as King Rama V, as he joins people during the mourning of his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok, Thaila

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BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn returned to Bangkok on Friday, just weeks before he is due to ascend the throne, four senior military sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Fresh questions about the succession arose when the prince flew to Germany last month to attend to personal business.

Thailand is making preparations for the prince to ascend the throne on Dec. 1, though a formal coronation will be at least one year from now.

The country has been without a monarch since revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Oct. 13 and has been ruled by regent Prem Tinsulanonda, the 96-year-old former head of the royal advisory council.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said last month that the prince had asked to delay his ascension to the throne while he mourns his father.

"His Highness has arrived back in Thailand from Germany and will attend an event this evening at the 1st Infantry Regiment, King's Own Guards. This is confirmed," said a senior military source who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The prince's return to Thailand, will likely ease any concerns about the succession, said Bangkok-based lecturer and analyst Gothom Arya.

"His return will likely stop any lingering rumors that the ascension process, when it happens, will not proceed smoothly," he told Reuters.

The prince has spent much of his adult life abroad, and has a home in Germany where his son, Prince Dipangkorn, is enrolled at a private school.

Thailand's military government submitted a new constitution for royal endorsement on Tuesday. Prayuth Chan-ocha has said that only the new monarch can approve the charter.

By law, the monarch or regent, has 90 days to approve the constitution after it is submitted.

(Reporting by Bangkok Bureau; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Michael Perry and Neil Fullick.)

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