(ShareCast News) – Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has died after a 70-year reign as head of state, passing away at the age of 88 after a lengthy battle with illness.
The King was a hugely popular figure in the country throughout his tenure, being viewed as a stabilising presence during turbulent political periods in the south-east Asian region.
Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will take over the throne, according to the country’s prime minister, Prayut Chan-ocha.
Bhumibol came to power aged just 18 years old, and has survived a plethora of coups and political vacuums, the most recent of which in May 2014 when the military seized power.
His death was announced by the prime minister at 3.52pm local time on Thursday, as well as a full year mourning period.
“He is now in heaven and may be looking over Thai citizens from there,” he said of the deceased monarch.
The King had not made many public appearances in the last number of years due to his poor health, with only the occasional visit to a palace or place of public importance in his wheelchair.
Thailand has a zero tolerance level of any inkling of criticism of its monarchy, with a recent sentence of 30 years in prison being handed out to a 48-year-old man.
Thai baht strengthened against the US dollar in the wake of the announcement, and is now at 35.453THB, and was up by 0.67% on the day.