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Ailing Thai king advised not to appear for 87th birthday
The king, who is the world's longest-serving monarch, has spent most of the last few months in hospital as fears over his health mount in a nation where he is seen as unifying, father-figure throughout a turbulent six-decade rule. "A team of royal physicians examined the king on Thursday evening... and agreed that he is not ready to grant a royal audience therefore they have recommended he cancels royal activities," the Royal Household Bureau said in a statement early Friday. In October the king underwent an operation to remove his gall bladder after tests revealed it was swollen. The king's birthday - also known as "Father's Day" in Thailand - is a public holiday and Thais traditionally wear the royal yellow as a sign of devotion to the monarch, while roads are lined with royal flags. Elaborate celebrations were expected at the royal palace in Bangkok, where the king traditionally makes an appearance and gives a brief statement to his subjects. He last failed to make an appearance in 2008 for his 81st birthday celebrations following ill health. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was already expected to carry out some official ceremonies to mark his father's birthday. Most Thais have only known King Bhumibol on the throne and anxiety over the future once his six-decade reign ends is seen as an aggravating factor in Thailand's bitter political divide.

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