Thailand’s king, world’s longest-reigning monarch, dies at 88

FILE - In this May 25, 2012, file photo, Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, center, is pushed in a wheelchair as he arrives at a rice field in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand. Thailand's Queen Sirikit, in purple, is walking at rear with Princess Sirindhorn. Thailand's Royal Palace said on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, that Thailand's King Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, has died at age 88. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this May 25, 2012, file photo, Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, center, is pushed in a wheelchair as he arrives at a rice field in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand. Thailand's Queen Sirikit, in purple, is walking at rear with Princess Sirindhorn. Thailand's Royal Palace said on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, that Thailand's King Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, has died at age 88. (AP Photo/File)

BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand’s Royal Palace says King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at age 88.

The palace said the king passed away peacefully on Thursday at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital.

“Even though the board of doctors has closely monitored and treated him to the best of its abilities, the king’s condition never improved but deteriorated until Thursday,” it said in a statement.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will be the new monarch in accordance with the constitution. He said government officials will observe a one-year mourning period.

“He is now in heaven and may be looking over Thai citizens from there,” he said of Bhumibol.

Bhumibol Adulyadej (pronounced poo-mee-pon ah-dun-yaa-det) became king in 1946 and was revered in Thailand as a demigod. He anchored the Southeast Asian country through violent upheavals at home and communist revolutions next door with a blend of majesty and a common touch.

The once-vigorous king had withdrawn from public life over the last decade due to his ill health. He lived at a Bangkok hospital and had been notably silent about the political upheaval that has shaken Thailand in recent years.

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