Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away peacefully after doctors lost the last battle to stabilize the King’s fragile health. King Bhumibol accessed the throne back in 1946 and was, until Thursday, the world’s longest reigning living monarch. He was revered by Thai people and seen as a unifying and calming influence in times of turmoil in the kingdom. The emotion is immense for Thais who considered the King as their “Spiritual Father and Guide”. Three generations of Thais have only known the late King.
The King’s health has been fragile in recent years with brief improvement of his condition. For over a year, he was under constant monitoring at Siriraj Hospital, across the Grand Palace. He was last seen in public in January of this year.
On Sunday, doctors at the hospital announced that the King’s health was in an unstable condition after haemodialysis treatment.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayut Cha-ocha came back abruptly from a trip to Kanchanaburi while the Royal family gathered at the hospital. Well-wishers started to gather outside Siriraj Hospital. On Wednesday, all official engagements by the government were called off.
On Thursday October 13th, at 3:52 local time in Bangkok, a palace announcement said that “His Majesty has passed away at Siriraj Hospital peacefully”. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was 88 years old. His son and heir apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vijiralongkorn is to become Thailand’s new king. The information was confirmed by Thailand Prime Minister on television. The Crown Prince is 63 years old.
A long period of mourning will now start while the Government has indicated to assure stability for the Kingdom. On Friday, the body of the late King will be taken from Siriraj Hospital to be ritually washed. He will then lie in state for an unspecified time, after which preparations for the royal cremation ceremony will then begin. The ceremony could however happen as long as one year from now.
There will be a year of mourning in Thailand for government officials and flags across the country will fly at half-mast for 30 days starting October 14, 2016.
Although tourism activities will continue despite the sorrow of Thai people, it is however likely that many entertainment venues as well as events will be closed or cancelled to observe one-month mourning, according to a statement from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha.