Gripped by grief, Thais mourn death of beloved monarch

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)

Huge crowds of black-clad Thais lined Bangkok's streets Friday hoping to see King Bhumibol Adulyadej's body borne to his palace, as the nation grieved for a monarch whose death leaves the country facing an uncertain future. Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, died at age 88 on Thursday after years of ill health, ending seven decades as a stabilizing figure in a nation of deep political divisions. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, is the king's named successor but has made a surprise request to delay formally assuming the throne, according to Thailand's junta leader, who appealed for citizens to "not cause chaos."

I'm lost for words because since I was born, I had him as a father of the nation and he unified us. I've never been in this situation before. I don't know what to say.

Siwanee Varikornsakul, on office worker in the financial district

The government declared a public holiday and people across the shaken nation dressed in black, their eyes swollen and red with hours of weeping. The 88-year-old king had spent much of the last decade hospitalized for a variety of ailments, and the momentous news, announced in a palace statement Thursday, had long been both anticipated and feared. But the nation remained stable and life continued largely as usual with most shops, banks and tourist sites open.

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Bhumibol Adulyadej

Bhumibol Adulyadej, known as King Bhumibol the Great, 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.