Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, has died. He was 88.
His death Thursday marks a potential new period of instability for the politically volatile country and its military rulers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
News from the royal palace Sunday that the revered king, who suffered for years from numerous ailments, was in unstable condition triggered outpourings of grief and days of anxious vigils outside Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, where he had been placed on a ventilator, the report said.
The country’s stock market swooned and some Thais took to wearing pink, considered an auspicious color, to speed his recovery.
As news of his passing circulated Thursday evening, many cried out in despair.
“The king is the heart of the Thai people. I’ve lived long enough. I’ve lost before. But I’ve never lost my king,” said Akarawat Teera-areeyawikul, 62 years old, one of the many who converged on the hospital.
“My single most important memory about growing up is that we have him. He’s an important figure to us. He makes us feel warm,” said Sawalee Boontam, 54, who lives near the hospital.
“I wanted him to live to 100 years old.”
The government declared King Bhumibol’s only son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, would succeed his father, in accordance with the constitution.
King Bhumibol reigned over the country for 70 years as it passed through the Cold War and conflicts in nearby Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as well its own upheavals, including a military coup in May 2014—the 12th since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
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