The world’s longest-reigning monarch, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has died, the royal palace confirmed this evening (Oct. 13). The news caps days of speculation about his health, after the palace issued an unusual series of bulletins about the king’s health since Sunday.
Born in the US and raised in Switzerland, Bhumibol ascended to the Thai throne in 1946 after the death of his brother, Ananda Mahidol. A keen saxophone player and dog lover, King Bhumibol was dearly loved by Thais, and has remained a symbol of unity despite the multiple military coups and protests that have roiled the country over the decades. In recent days, Thais had
gathered outside his hospital, crying and praying for his recovery.
King Bhumibol’s named successor is his only son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who spends much of his time outside Thailand.
Thailand’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had the following statement on the king’s death:
Here’s King Bhumibol’s life in photos:
The king photographed with his brother, Ananda Mahidol, while playing with presents Ananda received on his tenth birthday, on Sept. 22, 1935, in Lausanne, Switzerland. King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his fiancee, Princess Sirikit, in Lausanne, Switzerland on Sept. 13, 1949. The 21-year-old king was studying law in Switzerland. The daughter of Prince Kitiyakara, the Thai ambassador in London, she was at a Lausanne boarding school. They met in Paris. Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej during his coronation in the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, 5 May 1950. Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej greets one of his loyal subjects in the central region of Thailand in this undated file picture. Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej plays the saxophone during a jam session with legendary jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman and his band in New York on July 5, 1960. Wieland Wagner, grandson of German composer Richard Wagner, left, watches as West German president Heinrich Luebke, center, talks to Queen Sirikit and King Bhumibol of Thailand after the performance of the opera “Lohengrin,” at the Opera House in Bayreuth, West Germany, August 1, 1960. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi of Iran, left, and King Bhumibol of Thailand, at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 23, 1968, after the Shah received an honorary degree as Doctor of Political Science. US president Bill Clinton shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej photos of famous American jazz musicians as they exchange gifts at Bangkok’s Grand Palace Tuesday Nov. 26, 1996. Thais gather to light candles and sing anthems to honor the Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej during his 82nd birthday at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 05 December 2009. Supporters of exiled former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, known as “Red Shirts,” hold pictures of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, as they prepare to present a petition asking the king to pardon Thaksin, at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, 17 August 2009. Pro-government and royalist supporters hold posters of Thai King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit at Royal Plaza in Bangkok, Thailand, 2 May 2010. The political crisis, which escalated into clashes between police and anti-government protesters, claimed dozens of lives. Thai royalists protest outside the US embassy against US comments about Thailand’s Article 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law, in which it is forbidden to criticise the Thai royal family, in Bangkok, Thailand, 16 December 2011. In this photo taken on Nov. 14, 2011, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is pushed on a wheelchair to watch the water level on the Chao Phraya river at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. He had recently suffered a health problem that caused him to temporarily lose consciousness, his daughter Princess Chulabhorn revealed, linking the incident to stress over the country’s flood crisis. Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is seen on TV while his end-of-year message to the nation is broadcast at a restaurant in Krabi, Thailand December 31, 2015.
Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, pictured here in Bangkok, on May 9, 2016, has been named King Bhumibol’s successor.