Thailand's beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej (R) died Thursday, ending his 70-year reign. Though his successor has been announced, allaying some fears of a destabilizing power struggle, a smooth transition is not guaranteed.
(PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)
Thailand is entering a new chapter in its history. The country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej died Thursday after a long battle with illness, ending his 70-year reign as the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty and opening a new era of profound uncertainty for Thailand.
During his time on the throne, King Bhumibol witnessed the development of modern-day Thailand and the emergence of Southeast Asia from the tumult of the Cold War. He wielded power sparingly, focusing primarily on preserving the delicate balance of power among the monarchy, the military and the political classes. In doing so, the king managed to maintain his popularity and sway -- and that of the Chakri dynasty -- in his country, even as royal families across the globe saw their own influence wane. It would be difficult to overestimate the place King Bhumibol holds in the modern Thai psyche....
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