Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has died
People mourn after an announcement that Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has died, at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok, Thailand October 13, 2016 Reuters/Jorge Silva

Thailand has been pitched into a national year of mourning after the country's long-reigning king passed away at the age of 88.

The country's Prime Minister said that king Bhumibol Adulyadej's death will be marked with a year-long commemoration after the news broke on Thursday evening (13 October). In a televised speech PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said all events in the country will be "toned down" and flags will fly at half-mast over the next month. The Thai English language newspaper Bankok Post turned its website grey in remembrance.

Bhumibol's son, the crown prince asked for a delay in proclaiming him king so that he can mourn with the rest of Thailand. People gathered around the nation in vigils Thursday evening.

Bhumibol was the ninth king in a 234-year-old dynasty and a symbol of stability for many. He weathered the ups and down of two coups in the past decade and conflicts like the Cold War, and wars in Vietnam and Cambodia.

People were sobbing amongst a large crowd holding vigil outside Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital where the king passed away.

"I lost one of the most important people in my life," Gaewkarn Fuangtong told ABC News from the capital's commercial district. "I feel like I haven't done enough for him. I should have done more. I will do good, do better for his sake."

Bhumibol was a Buddhist and even monks nearby Bhutan lit thousands of candles and said prayers in his honour. When the king's grandmother died in 1956, he became a monk for 15 days, a custom for some Buddhists when an elder relative dies. It isn't known yet whether his son will do the same.

Bhumibol's birthday was coming up December 5. Since it is already marked as a national day, that may mean special celebrations. His body is expected to be embalmed and then cremated in a multi-day ceremony.

After Bhumibol's cousin's death in 2011 she wasn't cremated until 10 months later. The older and more revered people are when they pass away in Thailand, the longer and more elaborate mourning will be and a king means there will be a state funeral.

Bhumibol was coronated in an elaborate ceremony in 1950 where planes dropped flowers by parachute. His funeral will be no less elaborate.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Well-wishers hold a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok, Thailand Jorge Silva/ Reuters