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.