The news from Bangkok as to the health of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is getting increasingly grim. His Majesty has not been seen in public in months and has spent the last several weeks battling a series of illnesses in the city's Siriraj Hospital.
The King's son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent abruptly cancelled an engagement on Wednesday afternoon and arranged an emergency meeting with the country's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Meanwhile, thousands of the King's subjects are gathering outside the hospital fearing the worst but praying for the best. The crowds are wearing yellow and pink; yellow to represent the King and pink as a colour to promote good health and recovery. As the world's longest reigning monarch, his passing would mark a major watershed in Thai, Asian and world history.
It's difficult for westerners to understand the relationship between the Thai king and his subjects. He's far more than a mere constitutional monarch such as we see in the Netherlands or Sweden. In many ways, he defines what the Thai nation is and represents - even superseding the democratic will at times and we have seen examples of this in the last few years when the Thai military intervened to defend the status quo from democratically elected governments.
The nearest analogy I can think of is the traditional Catholic view of the Pope. It doesn't matter what the majority of Catholics think. The leader is supreme.
Sydney Morning Herald: Emergency meeting called as Thais pray for king's 'unstable' health