King Bhumibol: Mourning continues for Thai monarch

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By Luke Barber
King Bhumibol: Mourning continues for Thai monarch

Thailand’s citizens began the first day in close to a century without King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Friday morning.

Crowds gathered in the streets from the early hours of the morning after a late-night vigil in Bangkok for the world’s longest reigning monarch.

Many regarded the late king as a father-figure who stabilised the country through decades of coups, political turmoil and civil unrest.

Some of those who had gathered outside the hospital where the 88-year-old king died broke down in tears.

Queues began forming this morning at Bangkok’s Grand Palace where people took part in a ritual cleansing process to mourn the monarch.

Thailand’s cabinet declared Friday a government holliday, and flags will fly at half-mast for 30 days.

The government has also asked for people to wear black, and avoid “joyful events” during this period.

Eyebrows raised over successor

The heir apparent, the three-times divorced Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, famed for making his pet poodle an air chief marshal in the Thai military, has asked for privacy in a time of grief.

He said he would not formally take the crown until he has finished mourning.

He has raised eyebrows in the past for his apparent lack of interest in the public duties expected of a Thai monarch.

The future king is not best liked by many of Thailand’s people.

In 2010, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed members of the Thai privy council discussing their concerns about the crown prince.