World's longest-reigning monarch, King Bhumibol of Thailand, dies at 88

FILE - In this June 9, 2006, file photo released by the Thai Government Public Relations Department, Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej acknowledges the crowd in Bangkok during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne. 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. (Thai Government Public Relations Department via AP, File)

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the world's longest-reigning monarch, died on Thursday at 88, the palace said in an announcement. He reigned for seven decades after ascending the throne in 1946. The palace did not give a reason for his death but he has been sick in hospital with various ailments for much of the past year. Bhumibol's son, the 63-year old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, is expected to become Thailand's new king. The assembly is due to hold a special session later on Thursday.

Long live the king!

Thai crowds outside the hospital where Bhumibol spent most of the last two years

Officially known as King Rama IX, Bhumibol descended from the Chakri dynasty which came to power in Thailand in the late eighteenth century. He was Thailand's lone constant as the country hurtled from a traditional agrarian society to a modern, industrializing nation, and as myriad governments rose and fell. He was seen as a force for unity, and there have long been concerns that without him the country's divisions could worsen.

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King Bhumibol's passing

More than 1,000 people gathered at the hospital where the king had been staying. Many of them started to cry as the news of his death broke.

Bhumibol Adulyadej

Bhumibol Adulyadej was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty as Rama IX. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he was, at the time of his death, the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, serving for.In 1957, the military overthrew the government with allegations of lèse majesté, which is an offense against the dignity of the monarch, punishable under Thai law, starting a new and long-lasting relationship between the monarch and military in governmental matters.