Hundreds of anxious supporters filed patiently onto the grounds of Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital on Thursday to continue their prayers for Thailand’s ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The nation is on tenterhooks following last night’s announcement that 88 year-old Bhumibol, the world’s longest reigning monarch, remains in an “unstable condition.” The King’s medical team said there were problems with his kidneys, for which he was given dialysis, and that his liver was not functioning normally.
Since Sunday, when the palace announced the King’s health had taken a turn for the worse, Thais have been keeping vigil outside the hospital, some lighting incense, others clutching images of the monarch. Many of the well-wishers who showed up to the hospital on their lunch breaks Thursday wore pink shirts — an auspicious color meant to bring good health to the King.
Young and old recounted their memories of the monarch, who is widely revered in Thailand.
“I was in the area that was flooded in Bangkok,” 70-year-old Naree Puangsombat told TIME, referring to extreme flooding that hit the capital 20 years ago. “At that time the King himself came to check out the flooding and he solved the problem. I have heard all good things about him since I was young. He always went to the poor, rural areas to help people.” She said she was born in 1946, the year of Bhumibol’s coronation.
Twenty-year-old student Damrongsak Sattabut remembers being fascinated as a child by images of the King, which typically adorn every Thai household and business. “When I was young I saw the picture and the sculpture in my home. I asked my parents, ‘Who is this?’ and they said, ‘He’s the king, and he is a great man,’” he told TIME. “If I had one wish, I want the King to recover soonest.”
Many Thais on social media have changed their Facebook profiles to show their name followed by “Love the King” or “Long Live the King” with a yellow heart on a pink background. Yellow is associated with the royal family; traditionally, every day of the week is assigned a color and Monday — the day Bhumibol was born — is represented by the color yellow.