King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has made a rare public appearance, amid concerns for his ailing health.
In TV footage released on December 14 by the palace he is seen swearing in judges at a Bangkok hospital where he has been staying.
The 88-year-old king has received treatment for a number of ailments including a lung infection.
The health of the monarch is of public concern as he is widely revered and seen as an arbiter in the country’s divided political arena.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who is the world’s longest serving monarch, was last seen in September in a video released by the palace.
The king missed his birthday celebrations for the second consecutive year on December 5. The event was marked by a cycling event last week in Bangkok led by his son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Palace officials did not give any further details of the king’s health on December 14.
King Bhumibol has been in and out of hospitals for the past few years and has had operations to remove his gallbladder and to treat hydrocephalus – an excessive build-up of fluid on the brain.
The monarch was re-admitted to Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok in June, shortly after he was discharged.
King Bhumibol’s popularity stems partly from his long reign, but he is also seen as a pillar of stability in Thailand which has been wracked by political strife in recent years and is currently governed by a military-led government.
Strict lese majeste laws ban any criticism of King Bhumibol or the royal family.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has cancelled a public appearance to mark his 87th birthday, on medical advice.
The news comes amid growing concern about the health of the king, who is highly revered by Thais.
Thousands of people had turned out in the capital, Bangkok, in the hope of seeing the king at the Royal Palace.
Events are also being held across Thailand, which is still under martial law after the army ousted the government in May.
In a statement released on December 5, King Bhumibol’s office said doctors had examined the him and “agreed that he is not ready to grant a royal audience, therefore they have recommended he cancels royal activities”.
King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, was last seen in public in November.
He has spent the past few months in hospital and recently underwent an operation to remove his gall bladder.
Crowds of supporters massed outside the hospital on December 5 to wish him well.
There is deep affection for the king in Thailand, but the country is also governed by harsh lese majeste laws which punish any criticism of the monarchy with up to 15 years in prison.
King Bhumibol’s heir is Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, but the laws mean any discussion of succession is extremely sensitive issue, and many aspects cannot be reported from inside the country.
In late November, it emerged that the crown prince had asked the government to strip his wife’s family of their royally-bestowed name.
The move is widely expected to be a first step to divorce – the couple were already known to be estranged.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn ‘s order followed the arrest of seven of the princess’s close relatives in a purge of officials allegedly involved in corruption.
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