Despite years of political instability in Thailand, one thing has remained constant in the country's government for more than 70 years: the monarchy, led by beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The king's visage adorns Thailand's money, posters of him hang everywhere, and a tribute to him plays before every movie shown in theaters. But the king has been in poor health for a long time, and now he has failed to stabilize after a medical procedure on Saturday, NPR reports. The 88-year-old's kidneys are reportedly not functioning properly, the AP reports.
The issue of succession is a tricky one, as the crown prince isn't as well respected as his father. Thailand's royalty is protected by very stringent anti-defamation laws, which make it illegal to speak ill of the king or the royal family. This generally hasn't been an issue, as the current king is well-loved and has been around as long as most people can remember. But the looming specter of a transition has clearly spooked the country, as the Thai stock market dropped nearly 3% on Monday, and the Thai baht also fell to a 2-month low against the US dollar, according to Sky News. (Read more Thailand stories.)