Mourning period for HM officially begins

Prior to the palace's announcement of His Majesty's passing, well-wishers at Siriraj Hospital were already weeping as they waited for health updates. Chanat Katanyu

The passing of His Majesty the King has brought tears and profound sadness to people across the nation as the mourning period officially begins.

After the announcement by the Royal Household Bureau of His Majesty's passing was televised yesterday evening, the public reactions were one of grief, disbelief and shock.

Within minutes of the announcement, most personal Facebook pages went black, a switch from the pink background with messages saluting the King and praying for His Majesty's recovery from illness earlier on.

The outpouring of grief was witnessed at the centre of the public gathering at Siriraj Hospital.

A wave of emotion swept the crowd. People broke down in desolate sobs as they learned the news.

Suwannee, a 60 year-old Bangkok resident, had no words to describe her feelings in the minutes that followed the announcement.

"Every December 5 I came here," she said.

"Every time time there was news of His Majesty the King's illness, I came to pray as well..."

Her voice trailed off, as she looked above her and joined others in singing the Royal Anthem.

Two women comfort their friend who burst into tears as they gathered at Siriraj Hospital. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

People continued chanting "Long Live the King", holding pictures of the King high above their heads, while others took to their phones to inform friends and relatives.

"At what time did he pass away? I don't have internet on my phone," Ms Suwannee exclaimed, tugging her daughter's arm to have a look at the official announcement by the Royal Household.

Thousands of Thais from all walks of life at Siriraj Hospital cried unrestrained as they learned of the news. Many wept and wailed.

Many bowed their heads to the King's portrait to show their last respect to the King who has for decades been revered as the father of the nation.

After a while, people started to sing the Royal anthem and chanted "Long Live the King' repeatedly.

Lamai Chanpha, a 57-year-old woman from Nakorn Pathom province, said His Majesty had been the heart of the nation for so long. "Without this heart, I don't know how the country can survive".

"I want to see him turn up and grant an audience to the Thai people again, but that's not possible anymore," she said, sobbing.

Women console each other at Siriraj Hospital as they grieve while holding a picture of Their Majesties following the King's passing. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Nauvarat Srithong, a 66-year-old woman from Ratchaburi province, said she simply could not believe the day would come when the Thai people have to live without the King.

"All of my life, I have seen only him as the King. I was hoping and praying so hard it was just a dream. I don't know what to do next," she said while wiping tears from her cheeks.

Patraporn Pakorn, 32, a private employee, said the King will live forever in her heart and he will be remembered as the world's longest-serving monarch.

"I'm proud to be his subject. May His Majesty rest in peace and ascend to heaven," Ms Patraporn said.

Throughout the day, a grim atmosphere descended on the crowds with speculation mounting over his Majesty's fast deteriorating health. The plaza outside the building where the King was treated and resided had quickly filled up with people.

The large turnout was prompted by news that the government was announcing an important statement about the monarch's health.

Prior to the palace's announcement on the King's passing in the early evening, hundreds of people in a visibly sombre mood sat in front of the hospital's 100th anniversary building and delivered a mass prayer for His Majesty.

The prayers were broken by the sporadic chants: "Long Live the King".

An old lady passed out and had to be helped by those around her.

Before the news of the King's passing was made, Sansanee Kiratichaikul, 52, from Nakon Sawan, said she was not ready to hear the bad news.

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