Thailand’s venerated king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at the age of 88, the Thai Royal Palace announced this evening. King Bhumibol passed away at Bangkok’s Siriraj hospital on Thursday.
The palace did not give a reason for his death. “His Majesty has passed away at Siriraj Hospital peacefully,” a statement said, adding he died at 3:52 p.m. local time (8:52 a.m. GMT). King Rama IX spent the last seven years at Siriraj Hospital for a variety of ailments, including kidney and lung problems. The palace recently said the octogenarian had been in an “unstable” condition for several days after receiving hemiodialysis treatment.
On Thursday evening, hundreds of people starting filling the center of Siriraj Hospital to pray and give respect to their King. An announcement by the royal palace was planned originally for 5:30 p.m., but was delayed until 8:52 p.m. That announcement came as a shock for everyone, as the news of the passing of the King finally swept through the crowd, wails of grief and crying washed through the hospital grounds as the realization finally set in that their King had finally passed away.
Shortly after the palace announced the death, parliament held nine minutes of silence in respect of the king. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha confirmed the succession in a statement broadcast on all Thai television channels. “The government will proceed with the succession. The government will inform the National Legislative Assembly that His Majesty the King appointed his heir on Dec 28, 1972,” the prime minister said, referring to the date that Vajiralongkorn, 64, was made Crown Prince.