On a cue from the royal astrologer and with a special blessing from the mother of the bride, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn today married his cousin in a court ceremony that marked an official holiday in Thailand.

The ceremony in Srapathum (Lotus Pond) Palace was solmenized by the princess' mother as she poured lustral water blessed by Buddhist monks over the heads of Vajiralongkorn and the new princess, Somsawalee, 19, a childhood playmate of the groom.

The wedding was held at exactly 8:49 a.m., the time appointed by the royal astrologer.

Vajiralongkorn, 24, will become the next king of 43 million Thais when the throne is vacated by his father, King Bhumibol. The crown prince, whose name means "bedecked with light," is the only direct heir to the throne.

Thousands of citizens from Bangkok and the provinces were entertained outside the royal palace by bands and dancing troupes after the ceremony.

When the private ceremony was completed, a blare of conch shells, bamboo xylophones and brass gongs formally announced the wedding.

Soldiers and cadets in ski blue, pink and scarlet blazers paraded near an official grandstand filled with government officials in the white dress uniform of the civil service and their wives, mostly resplendent in primary hues of Thai silk dresses.