Thailand is in mourning after earlier today His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej has passed away, aged 88, at the Sriraj Hospital in Bangkok. It is the single greatest moment of sorrow for the Thai people in the past 70 years. Loved and revered by people of all conditions in Thailand, his realm has seen the transition from the Japanese occupation of the Second World War to becoming one of the leading countries of the world in the 21st century.
The longest-reigning monarch of the world at the time of his passing, King Bhumibol has overseen his people through a lifetime, nurturing and bringing stability to the country through some of the most decisive moments of the past decades.
Wearing black, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appeared on television to announce the tragic news to the Thai people.
“His Majesty the King brought people from their hopelessness to their determination, security and courage to cope with obstacles.(…) He is now in heaven and may be looking over Thai citizens from there,” Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said.
The King passed away at the Sriraj Hospital in Bangkok, after months of hospitalisation. “Even though the board of doctors has closely monitored and treated him to the best of its abilities, the King’s condition never improved. (…) His Majesty has passed away peacefully” a statement from the Royal Office said.
Across the country, the terrible news have been received with disbelief, sorrow, wailing and despair. Many Thais considered the late King as a father figure and looked up to him, in some cases even seeing him as a divine figure.
“We lost our father today. He is a father … that wanted to do everything, the best thing, for his kids. With all my heart I hope that miracle will happen. I want to believe in miracles… I still believe up until now that this is a lie,” said Ovartvoraporn Bhakchuda, a Thai woman who was outside the hospital where the King of Thailand has deceased.
“There is no word to explain my feeling right now. I lost one of the most important people in my life. I feel like I haven’t done enough for him. I should have done more. I will do good, do better for his sake,” said another Thai man, tears in his eyes.
Across the world, leaders paid tribute to His Majesty the King, sharing in the loss of the Thai people.
“His Majesty the King was a close friend of the United States and a valued partner of many US presidents. I had the honour of calling on His Majesty the King during my visit to Thailand in 2012, and recall his grace and warmth, as well as his deep affection and compassion for the Thai people,”said the U.S. president Barack Obama, in a statement.
“King Bhumibol Adulyadej or Rama 9, was widely revered by his people. My thoughts are with his countless well-wishers & family”, said the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, in a tweet.
“My heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and people of Thailand on the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej,” said the Malaysian head of government Najib Razak.
According to the Kingdom’s royal tradition and constitution, the crown will pass to Prince Maha Vajralongkorn, the heir apparent and the Crown Prince of Thailand.