Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies aged 88

Born on December 5, 1927 in the US state of Massachusetts, King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the world’s longest-serving head of state and the longest reigning monarch in Thai history.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

King Bhumibol Adulyadej is credited with restoring the influence of Thailand's royalty during his 70 years on the throne and earning the devotion of many of Thai citizens.

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, considered a unifying figure for many of his country's people, died in hospital on Thursday, the royal palace has announced.

The cause of his death was not given. He was 88 years old.

"His Majesty has passed away at Siriraj Hospital peacefully," the palace said, adding that he died at 1552 local time (0852 GMT).

The king was last seen in public in January. He had been receiving treatment for various health problems over the last two years, including regular infections, breathing difficulties, renal failure and hydrocephalus.

Princess Ubolratana was born in Lausanne, Switzerland on April 6, 1951, 11 months after the marriage and coronation of her parents King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit in Bangkok.

He was born on December 5, 1927, in the US state of Massachusetts, and was the world’s longest-serving head of state and the longest reigning monarch in Thai history.

His parents were Prince Mahidol Adulyadej and his commoner wife Mom Sangwan. He was educated in Switzerland.

On May 5, 1950 he was crowned king of Thailand after his brother Ananda Mahidol was found shot to death. Two royal pages and a former private secretary to the king were executed for the murder, but there has been speculation – including from the late King Bhumibol himself –that they were not responsible.

The King reigned through 10 military coups, and his death marks the end to seven decades on the throne. 

For the majority of the country's 68 million people, the king was a pillar of stability in rapidly changing times. Thailand embraced industrialisation during his reign but also saw its parliamentary democracy interrupted by 10 military coups, the most recent of which took place in May 2014.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej was an avid photographer and also enjoyed playing the saxophone. (File photo)

The king was the only Thai monarch to hold a patent. He was a jazz enthusiast, loved photography and authored a book.

Although he was held in great respect by many Thais, he was also protected by laws which allowed his critics to be jailed from three to fifteen years.

The laws were later toughened to prevent criticism of any member of the royal family, royal development projects, the royal institution, the Chakri Dynasty or any previous Thai king.

Poor health

Bhumibol had been in poor health for some time and spent most of the past six years in Bangkok's Siriraj hospital.

Thailand is mourning the loss of its beloved king. He had been in poor health for some time and has spent most of the past six years in Bangkok's Siriraj hospital.

King Bhumibol was re-admitted in May 2015 and was last seen in public in January, when he spent several hours visiting his Bangkok palace.

The Royal Household Bureau in its statement on Thursday did not give a reason for the king's death. The king had been treated for a respiratory infection, a buildup of fluid surrounding the brain and a swollen lung in the past few months.


His son and heir apparent, the 63-year old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, is expected to become Thailand's new king.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (left), is the presumed successor to the Thai throne, but there is uncertainty among the Thai people. Most of them have only lived under Bhumibol’s rule.

He has taken a more prominent part in royal ceremonial and public appearances in recent years, but does not command the same level of devotion as his father.