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Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927 - 2016)

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Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927 - 2016)

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the highly revered king of Thailand and the world's longest-reigning monarch, died Oct. 13, 2016, according to multiple news sources. He was 88.

His death comes after a period of failing health during which Thai citizens wore pink, the color associated with him, to show their support and affection.

With the king's death, the world's longest-reigning monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended to the British throne in 1952.

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King Bhumibol was born Dec. 5, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his father, Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, was studying at Harvard. The family returned to Thailand when he was young, though he was educated in Switzerland. He took the throne June 9, 1946, after the death of his brother, who was the reigning monarch. With his reign of 70 years and 126 days, he was the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.

The king of Thailand is a constitutional ruler who holds less power than the prime minister and the national assembly. Yet King Bhumibol was a popular monarch who was considered semi-divine and was looked to in times of crisis for his unifying influence.

King Bhumibol served during times of immense political upheaval in Thailand, with the political climate changing again and again during his reign. He presided through times of martial law and during coups, and in 1992, he helped bring democracy to Thailand.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha declared a year of national mourning for King Bhumibol. The announcement of his death was met with deep grief by the people of Thailand. King Bhumibol named his successor more than 40 years ago: his son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. 

King Bhumibol is survived by his wife, Queen Sirikit, as well as by their four children.

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