BANGKOK: The world’s longest-reigning monarch, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Thursday (Oct 13) after 70 years as head of state.
“His Majesty passed away peacefully at Siriraj Hospital,” the palace said in a statement in Thai, adding that the king died at 3.52pm local time.
King Bhumibol had spent much of the past year at Siriraj Hospital, where he was treated for various ailments. The last palace statement issued prior to his death said that the king’s blood pressure had dropped, his pulse had quickened, his liver was not functioning normally, and a blood test showed signs of infection.
“Even though the doctors tried their best to save His Majesty, his condition deteriorated,” Thursday’s statement said, in announcing his death.
The king’s body will leave Siriraj Hospital at 1pm Bangkok time on Friday. It will be taken to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, next to the Grand Palace, in a procession.
Starting on Friday, flags will be flown at half mast at all government buildings and schools for 30 days, and Thai government officials will mourn the king for a year.
Thais have also been urged to refrain from festivities for the next 30 days and to wear black for a year.
In a statement that was broadcast on all Thai television channels, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that King Bhumibol was beloved by many Thais.
“The government urges you to pray that His Majesty will rest in peace in heaven. We were blessed to live under his reign,” he said.
“Do not let his death stop you from following his priniciples and continuing to be good citizens.”
Thailand’s National Assembly held a special session in which assembly members stood and observed a nine-minute silence in memory of the king.
The number nine is significant as King Bhumibol was the ninth monarch of the Chakri dynasty, or King Rama IX.
However, the special session ended without assembly members inviting a successor to King Bhumibol to ascend the throne.
The Thai Prime Minister said the appointment would be made later.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is widely expected to succeed his father but has asked for time to mourn with the Thai people, Gen Prayut said. “Let us wait for the right time,” he told reporters.
In addition to the Crown Prince, King Bhumibol leaves his wife Queen Sirikit, 84, as well as three daughters, Princess Ubol Ratana, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhorn Walailak.
“GIVE ME BACK MY KING”
Thais gathered at Siriraj Hospital broke down in tears on hearing the announcement. Many got on their knees and bowed in front of the building where the king had been receiving medical treatment.
Hours after the king’s passing, hundred of people at the hospital compound continued to sing songs praising King Bhumibol. Many wept uncontrollably and some fainted.
On social media, many users shared the King’s biography and photographs, with messages such as “I love the King” and “May I be your subject in every life”.
At Siriraj Hospital, many still refused to believe the king had passed away and continued praying for miracles.
“I still believe there can be a miracle,” a man said, shouting: “Long live the king!”
“Give me back my king,” another shouted.