Thai princess declares king's health improving

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The Independent Online

Thai newspapers on today prominently featured the first public remarks by a royal family member on the health of the world's longest reigning monarch, after rumors about the 81-year-old king's condition sent Thai stocks plunging.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej's health continues to improve even though he remains hospitalized, Princess Chulabhorn said yesterday at the Thai Embassy in Germany. Bhumibol was hospitalized in Thailand on September 19 for fever, fatigue and lack of appetite.

"The doctors say there is no danger," the princess said.

The king's health is an extremely sensitive topic in Thailand, in large part because of concerns about his succession. Bhumibol's son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, does not yet have the stature or moral authority of his father, who has been a unifying figure during his 63 years as head of state.

Statements from the royal palace have said the king had inflammation of the lungs, a possible symptom of pneumonia.

His doctors have said Bhumibol's condition is good, but rumors about his health sent Thai stocks Wednesday into their largest decline in nearly two months.

Chulabhorn, the king's youngest daughter, said he needs physical therapy so "he can stand and walk like normal," which is why he's still in the hospital.

"These days, his majesty can talk and eat almost normally," she said.