Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha: Elaborate funeral begins for Leicester owner

An elaborate funeral began yesterday for Thai billionaire and Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died last week when his helicopter crashed in a car park next to the English Premier League club's stadium.

The royal urn with the remains of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is displayed at a Buddhist temple next to his portrait. Picture: AP

The royally sponsored funeral was being held at a Bangkok temple and its guests included top government officials, businessmen and other public figures. The first ceremony began yesterday, with other ceremonies scheduled throughout the week.

“It’s a very difficult time for his family and I’m here to show support,” said Kiattisak Senamuang, a former Thai national football team coach and player who noted that Vichai was always supportive of footballing projects in Thailand.

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“May Vichai rest in peace.”

The grounds of Wat Thepsirin were guarded by scores of security officers. White sheets were lowered to block outsiders and media from viewing the proceedings.

However, the chanting of monks, amplified by loud speakers, could be heard resonating around the temple’s grounds.

Leicester City’s players travelled to Bangkok to attend Vichai’s funeral after their match with Cardiff City last night.

Vichai was killed in the 27 October crash, which occurred about an hour after a Leicester City home match.

The Thai billionaire, pictured left, oversaw one of the greatest underdog successes in sports when his 5,000-1 outsiders won the English Premier League title in 2016.

In an era of often-absentee foreign owners in the Premier League, Vichai also broke the mould by forging close ties with supporters and the local community.

The business world remembers Vichai as the retail entrepreneur who grew Thailand’s massive King Power duty-free chain.

Today the King Power empire is worth £3.8 billion, according to Forbes, with Vichai having been named as the fifth-richest person in Thailand.

A devout Buddhist who had monks bless his team’s King Power Stadium regularly for good luck, Vichai had four children with his wife, Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha,

He was born Vichai Raksriaksorn, but in 2012, the king of Thailand recognised his achievements by bestowing on his family their new surname, which means “light of progressive glory.”