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Thailand’s Long Serving King Dies


13 October, 2016

Thailand is mourning King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

King Bhumibol died Thursday in Bangkok. He was 88 years old.

In recent years, the king suffered from a series of age-related health problems that mostly kept him in a Bangkok hospital.

Last weekend, Thai officials announced that his health had worsened and his condition was "not stable."

Officials said on Thursday his health never improved and that he died peacefully.

A large crowd had gathered outside the hospital where the king was being treated. Many in the crowd broke down with emotion after hearing of his death. Some held photographs of the king and wore yellow or pink clothing in his honor.

King Bhumibol came to power 70 years ago. He was the world's longest serving monarch.

He was born in 1927 in the American community of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his father was studying medicine. The future king was educated mostly in Europe, attending secondary school and a university in Switzerland.

He studied music, and was a skilled saxophone player and composer of jazz. He also liked sailing and wrote several books, including a best-seller about his favorite dog.

This photo released by Thailand's Royal Household Bureau shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, second from left, along with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, third from left, Princess Chulabhorn, Princess Sirindhorn, and Consort Princess Srirasm.
This photo released by Thailand's Royal Household Bureau shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, second from left, along with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, third from left, Princess Chulabhorn, Princess Sirindhorn, and Consort Princess Srirasm.

He became Thailand's king in 1946 after the mysterious shooting death of his older brother.

King Bhumibol was greatly respected and beloved in Thailand, a deeply Buddhist country. He was known as a humble leader who directed many social and economic development projects.

His wife, Queen Sirikit, is also a beloved figure in the country. She has been in poor health for several years.

The Thailand Royal Family walks through the gardens of their residence at Sunninghill, Berkshire, United Kingdom on July 27, 1966 where they are staying during their private visit to Britain.
The Thailand Royal Family walks through the gardens of their residence at Sunninghill, Berkshire, United Kingdom on July 27, 1966 where they are staying during their private visit to Britain.

Supporters believe King Bhumibol provided unity and stability at a time when Thailand faced many social and economic problems. The country experienced political unrest several times during his rule. The current leadership took power after the military ousted the civilian government in 2014.

At times, King Bhumibol acted as a negotiator in disputes between competing military leaders. Sometimes, he approved army requests to overthrow elected governments.

The 70th anniversary of the king's rule was celebrated in Thailand in June, when millions of people wore yellow shirts to show their support.

In a nationwide broadcast, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha called the death a tragedy for all of Thailand.

Thais cry as they pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital where the king is being treated in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 13, 2016.
Thais cry as they pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital where the king is being treated in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 13, 2016.

"He was a king that was loved and adored by all. The reign of the king has ended and his kindness cannot be found anywhere else," he said.

Next in line to Thailand's royal throne is the king's son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. The crown prince, who returned home from Germany on Wednesday, has yet to gain the same respect in Thailand as his father.

The prime minister confirmed on Thursday that the crown prince will become the new king. Prayuth added that the government will observe one year of mourning for King Bhumibol.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for Learning English. His story was based on reports from VOA correspondent Steve Herman, the Associated Press and Reuters. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.

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Words in This Story

monarch – n. a king or queen

saxophone – n. musical instrument with a curved metal tube at the bottom played by blowing into mouthpiece

composern. someone who writes music

circumstancen. a condition or fact that affects a situation

humbleadj. not proud or believing you are important

stability – n. the state of something not easily changed

adorev. to like something very much

reign – n. period of time a king or queen is ruler of a country

mr007