His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital at 3.52 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, according to a report by the Royal Household Bureau.
The world’s longest reigning monarch, 88, who was widely revered by the Thai people and seen as a stabilising figure in the politically divided nation, died after 70 years on the throne.
The sad news were announced on national television at 7 p.m.Thursday night.
While the cause of his death was not specified the royal palace had reported last month that Bhumibol was being treated for acute kidney failure. On Sunday and again yesterday, the Royal Household Bureau reported that the beloved king’s condition had not stabilised and that doctors were closely monitoring his condition.
“Although the team of doctors have provided close care and treatment to their utmost ability, his illness did not subside and worsen in sequences,” today’s statement said.
Shortly after the official announcement of the much revered monarch’s death prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced in a televised address an official one-year mourning period to mourn the death of His Majesty. The general public is urged to decide on an appropriate duration of mourning.
According to The Nation, Prayuth also urged all sectors of Thai society to “refrain from holding entertainment activities for one month.”
While most bars around Pattaya appear to be closed tonight it still remains unclear what this order will mean for the local bar and entertainment industry over the coming days and weeks. An alcohol ban does not appear to be in place.
In another statement broadcast live on national television, the junta chairman also confirmed that Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the official Heir to the Throne, would succeed his father after his death.
“The government will proceed with the succession [and] will inform the National Legislative Assembly that His Majesty the King appointed his heir on December 28, 1972,” The Nation quotes the prime minister as saying in the official statement.
Following an audience with the crown prince however, Prayuth quoted the Heir as saying that he would rather “wait for an appropriate time” before assuming the throne as he wishes to join the nation in mourning the death of his father. After all religious and funeral rites have passed – an elaborate ceremony that usually lasts for a year or longer – he would however be ready to assume the throne. (More recently, however, Prayuth has indicated that Vajiralongkorn could ascend to the throne as early as late October.)
Until then, Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda has reportedly been named Regent pro tempore, i.e. Prem will temporarily be exercising royal authority on behalf of the Crown Prince.