King Bhumibol Adulyadej, dead at 88
BANGKOK (AFP) – Millions of Thais donned black Friday as the grieving nation prepared to hold traditional Buddhist ceremonies for revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose death leaves the country facing an uncertain new era.
Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, passed away at 88 on Thursday after a long battle with ill health, removing a stabilising father figure in a country where political tensions are still raw two years after a military coup.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, is the king’s named successor, but has made a surprise request to delay formally becoming the next king, according to the junta leader who appealed for citizens to accept the decision and “not cause chaos”.
Officials prepared to move the monarch’s body on Friday from the hospital where he died to the Grand Palace, a complex of glittering temples and pavilions in the heart of the capital.
I was in Thailand once and the respect and adoration the Thais gave their King was quite something. It’s taken seriously, you definitely wouldn’t say anything against the monarchy as it’s defended by a quite draconian ‘lese majeste’ law, besides that the people of Thailand seemed to really like their King – a lot of people wore yellow as a sign of respect as it was his favourite colour. I can only imagine what a sense of loss the death of such a constant presence can be.