Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has died after being hospitalized for a longer time.
He was the world's longest-reigning, living monarch after he took the throne at the age of 18 in 1946. He was formally crowned in 1950, and has been Thailand's king for 70 years.
The 88-year-old has had poor health for several years, and rarely showed himself public. He has been hospitalized since January, and this weekend doctors warned that his health condition had become very unstable.
Hundreds of Thais have in the last few days gathered outside the hospital where the king was admitted. On Thursday afternoon the Thai royal family came with a statement about the king's death.
- His Majesty died peacefully at the Siriraj Hospital, said the statement.
The death occurred 15.52 local time.
It's King Bhumibol's son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, who takes over the throne, says Thailand's prime minister.
The Crown Prince is not particularly popular among the people, and there has long been talks of alternatives. But Thursday, Thailand's prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, confirmed that it is the son who takes over from his father.
He also said that the country now goes into a mourning period of one year, and that all forms of entertainment must be toned down the next 30 days.
The king was immensely popular in Thailand, and was seen as a stabilizing figure in the country that has been ravaged by political unrest and several coups during his 70-year reign.
It is forbidden to criticize the monarchy or the royal family in Thailand, and critics are punished hard. Last year, two people were sentenced to 28 and 30 years in prison for having attacked the monarchy in social media. People can be found guilty of insulting the royals in student revues, from toilet wall-scribblings, or by speaking carelessly in a cab. The law that forbids criticism of the royals can not be criticized either.
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