Thailand has lost its beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the age of 88yo.
Locals here are understandably extremely upset at the moment, many are openly weeping, and the streets are very quiet tonight, such was their King held in such high esteem.
King Bhumibol was one of the worlds longest reigning monarchs, reigned through an era of rising prosperity and frequent political turmoil, including the Cold war and 10 military coups, along with many lengthy and deadly street protests.
His seven-decade reign began in the aftermath of Thailand’s occupation by Japan during the Second World War, and ended deep into the Internet age. Many Thais have known no other monarch, and he was revered, almost as a deity.
His picture hangs on a wall in every shop or house!
During the upheavals of the 20th century, he skilfully charted a course that put the monarchy at the center of Thai society, acting as a force for community and tradition even as the country lurched between political crises and military coups.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and after his brother King Ananda died of a gunshot wound in 1946 under mysterious circumstances, he did not take up the crown immediately, instead deciding to complete his studies.
He was crowned on 5 May 1950, a week after marrying Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, daughter of the Thai ambassador to France.
He was an accomplished jazz musician and composer, an avid photographer, accomplished sailor, painter, author, and sportsman. A man dedicated to the common man, he held a lifelong commitment to the improvement of the Thai people.
In his later years he suffered poor health and was in and out of hospitals for over a decade.
Toward the end of his reign, as his health declined, the King’s presence in public life waned. Before his death, analysts expressed concern that his passing will remove a vital point of unity in an increasingly divided country.
He lived a fairly frugal life compared to other people of power throughout the world, and for this alone he was universally loved throughout the country.
His expected successor and designated heir is Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.
As well as the Crown Prince and his wife, Queen Sirikit, Bhumibol is survived by three other children: Ubolratana, Chulabhorn and Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.